“We were really nervous in the beginning to kind of branch out, but we were all together,” Anwar said.
This school year, the young women are not taking as many of their college classes together, but they said they communicate a lot through text messages. And they meet up at Mercy School for their high school classes.
Charting the course
Some of the seniors have younger siblings, and they realize the younger students look up to them.
“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.
She 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.
Qureshi's mother, Remeeza Qureshi, has taught the young women Islamic studies for two years. She said she is pleased with this first graduating class, particularly because the students have used their small class size to their benefit.
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.
She said the seniors have let their Mercy School teachers know that they have been well prepared for college and the world beyond the four walls of the school. Plus, she said the young women are helping other students by giving them guidance and offering tutoring.
Another growth sign
Meanwhile, Enchassi, the Islamic Society's imam, said the society recently opened a community center called Mercy Youth Club or MY Club, for short, at the Mercy School complex.
The community center was part of the master plan for the complex, which sits on 20 acres north of the intersection of Harvey Avenue and Memorial Road. Enchassi said the society has hired a youth director for the center and it is open to non-Muslim individuals and community groups as well as those within the Muslim faith community.
Enchassi said the center's completion, like Mercy School's first graduating class, is another sign of the Muslim faith's community's metro-area growth.
“It's fascinating,” he said.
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Graduation is probably going to be all of us crying. Our school is more of a family — everyone here is looking out for you.”