OnIslam & Newspapers
Saturday, 05 January 2013 00:00
CAIRO – Senior students at Oklahoma’s first Islamic high school are preparing to be the first graduation class in 2013, filled with hope to serve their community and act as role models for their country.
“This has been a journey,” Imad Enchassi, the Islamic Society’s president and imam, told The Oklahoman on Saturday, January 05.
“These girls are basically pioneers. They are trailblazing the way through for others.
The historic class of 2013 includes Isra Cheema, 17, of Edmond; Jasmine Shafik, 17, of Oklahoma City; Areebah Anwar, 18, of Norman; and Zoha Qureshi, 17, of Oklahoma City.
The exuberant quartet at Mercy School is set to become the Islamic school’s first graduating class.
Celebrating the first graduation class, Enchassi said the metro Muslim faith community has come a long way to get to this stage.
Mercy School was opened by the Islamic Society of Oklahoma City in a small building to offer Islamic studies for young people in prekindergarten through 10th grade.
Relocating into their new $9 million complex in 2010, a senior class was feasible in the new building, Islamic Society leaders said.
The 11th grade was added in 2011, and the 12th grade was added in 2012.
In addition to attending Mercy School, the four students enrolled at a local junior college and has been taking concurrent college courses.
Shafik said each has between 40 and 50 hours of college credit.
Being apprehensive about attending college as high schoolers, students said the experience has helped them gain confidence that will help them when they become full-time college students.
“We were really nervous in the beginning to kind of branch out, but we were all together,” Anwar said.
Though there are no official figures, America is believed to be home to nearly eight million Muslims.
Muslims in Oklahoma are estimated at 30,000, less than one percent of the state’s 3.7 million population, according to CAIR.
Graduating with flying colors, the Muslim students quarto said the remaining days at mercy School would be bittersweet.
“None of us want to leave,” Qureshi said, smiling.
“Graduation is probably going to be all of us crying. Our school is more of a family — everyone here is looking out for you.”
Ahead of their graduation, the school’s first group of seniors said they started several extracurricular activities such as a newspaper and involvement in the Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST) to help diversify their high school experience.
The students said competing in subjects such as debate, science, math and Quran knowledge at MIST tournaments in Houston and Canada last year was particularly exciting, as they came back with 10 awards.
Their success added to the weight on their shoulders to work as role models for the younger Muslim students.
“When we’re here, it helps us realize that we are role models for the younger kids,” Cheema said.
“We don’t take this for granted,” Shafik said.
Shafik said she is thankful her parents were insistent that she attend Mercy School instead of transferring elsewhere or completing her high school career in another way.
“I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t come to Mercy School,” she said.
Buthiana Jwayyed, the school’s vice principal, also is proud of the seniors.
“They are so inspiring. It’s amazing to see their conviction — they want to learn,” she said.