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Lindon kids swear allegiance

LINDON — Clayton Meeks' father says his boy understands what it means to "absolutely and entirely renounce any allegiance" to his homeland of Mexico.

But that doesn't mean Clayton enjoyed all the hoopla surrounding his decision Tuesday to become a naturalized American citizen.

"I want to go home," the 11-year-old said after he and Cheyenne Bobo spent an hour in front of students at Lindon Elementary School being congratulated and photographed.

"He's very private, very shy," said his father.

Not Cheyenne, who is 14 and a little more comfortable in the spotlight. "It's great. I like it," Cheyenne said.

Cheyenne was adopted at age 4 from Bulgaria by Marcelle and Doug Bobo. James and Patti Meeks added Clayton, who is from Mexico City, to their family in 1990.

Both children were sworn in Tuesday after teachers, senatorial aides and school officials worked for nearly 18 months to make it happen.

"We are so excited," said Patti Ratliff, the school resource teacher who took on the project after she talked with Cheyenne about some of the limits she expected on her life because she wasn't a citizen.

Ratliff wrote a letter and ended up involving a Brigham Young University college class, U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch's office, and Immigration and Naturalization Service officials.

John Seggar's BYU sociology class helped raise money to pay for all of the fees and costs along the way.

Hatch's office helped streamline the process, which was facilitated by the new Child Citizenship Act passed by Congress in February.

"These kids represent the kind of situation the bill is trying to address," said Melissa Bowman, state director for Hatch's office.

Throughout the process, Ratliff and teachers at Lindon helped those at the school understand what was happening. They studied citizenship, the U.S. Constitution and discussed what it means to be a patriot.

Tuesday, it all came together.

With flags flying outside and schoolmates singing and cheering inside, Bobo and Meeks accepted the Oath of Allegiance along with flags that have flown over the nation's Capitol, blankets embossed with flags and certificates of citizenship.

First-grader Jamie Bevan took it all in and decided it means the big kids "like the state." Mitch Houston just thought it was fun.

Patti Meeks said the whole family is more aware of what it means to be an American citizen.

"Our oldest son is on a mission (for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in Norway," Patti Meeks said.

"He just wrote to Clayton, and he expressed his new appreciation for citizenship because he's seeing it now from outside the country."