2013 is banner year for Islamic school in Oklahoma City
Four students at Mercy School, a private Islamic school in Oklahoma City, are preparing to become the school's first graduating class.
When the calendar marked 2013, four students at a private religious school in Oklahoma City began their official countdown.
The exuberant quartet at Mercy School is set to become the Islamic school's first graduating class.
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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.”
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 four said they started their senior year with excitement in August, but as the months went by, they began to feel a little sad.
Now, they said the next couple of months until their May graduation will be somewhat 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.”
Mercy School was opened by the Islamic Society of Oklahoma City in a small building at 3900 NW 39. Over the years, the school offered Islamic studies for young people in prekindergarten through 10th grade.
It wasn't until the school was relocated to a new $9 million complex at 14001 N Harvey in 2010 that a senior class was feasible, Islamic Society leaders said. Leaders said the new building allowed the school to serve more students. The smaller building's size was so limited that many students were placed on a waiting list. The 11th grade was added in 2011, and the 12th grade was added in 2012.
Imad Enchassi, the Islamic Society's president and imam, said the metro Muslim faith community has come a long way to get to the school's first graduating class.
“This has been a journey,” he said.
“These girls are basically pioneers. They are trailblazing the way through for others.”
Enchassi said Mercy School's first seniors and the school's faculty had to figure out what their next steps were in their studies and overall curriculum. Enchassi said that, in the past, older high school students such as his daughter were homeschooled and took online classes.
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.
As for academics, each of the young women enrolled at a local junior college and has been taking concurrent college courses in addition to attending Mercy School. Shafik said each has between 40 and 50 hours of college credit.
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