The Falcon Forum

Issue #2 - March 2020

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The Universal Academy of Florida Newsletter, The Falcon Forum, is excited to present you with the second issue of the 2019-2020 school year. Open and see the new additions to UAF!


New Gym

New Head of Upper Elementary

New Academic Director Highlight

New Teachers Spotlight

Arabic, Quran, & Islamic Studies Teachers Spotlight

UAF Banquet

Elementary Spelling Bee

Middle School Spelling Bee

Islamic Workshops

Fajr & Pancakes

PTO Muffins With Moms

Spirit Week

Senior Night

New Addition to Secondary Clubs


Field Trips

Library Happenings


Faculty Garden

Short Story

Fun & Games


New Gym

By: Vaniza Atiq & Nuzat Indawala

For years students and staff members alike have been waiting for the day with their anticipation

and excitement thrumming through the air. The day for UAF to finally begin building a gym, and

that day finally came during the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, and since that day

UAF’s building crew has made incredible progress in such a short amount of time, it is truly

admirable. This new gym will serve as a science lab, cafe, sports arena, and much more. The

science lab will be much bigger than the one in Building C, allowing the science classes to do

more projects, receiving abundant hands-on experience. Students will no longer have to worry

about the weather or bees during their lunch period, as the cafe will provide them with the shelter they need to relax and enjoy their lunch. Most importantly, it will also open up many opportunities for our incredible athletic department. There will be a larger basketball court for UAF’s basketball teams and now UAF’s volleyball teams will also have a proper court to play on. None of this would have been able to happen without all of the generous people who donated money to UAF, who helped make this dream a reality, and they all deserve a special thank you.


Head of Upper Elementary

By: Serene Masri

Sr. Hamdh has been honored to become the new Head of Upper Elementary and is so very proud to be a part of such an amazing team of teachers, supportive staff, parents, and students. Before she took up this job title, Sr. Hamdh had worked at UAF for fourteen years as a second-grade teacher, with her overall experience at UAF having been amazing Alhamdulillah. Sr. Hamdh wouldn’t have stayed at UAF for this many years if her heart wasn’t connected to this school and most importantly the brilliant students who constantly leave their special footprints on her heart. Sr. Hamdh had decided to become an educator and now an assistant principal to make a difference and improve the lives of children and the education process. Sr. Hamdh believes that education is vital to a student’s future success in life and that a school should be intellectually challenging, motivating, safe, and supportive of students regardless of their needs, and she wants to help UAF live up to these standards. When it comes to the future of UAF and things she wants to help UAF accomplish, Sr. Hamdh held that she would like to continue the wonderful work which has been paved for her by her amazing colleagues. She would like to add to their contributions by having an open-door policy not just for parents, but for her students as well, believing that children should be seen and heard. She would especially like to open that line of communication with her elementary students in hopes of starting conversations that can positively alter the course of their time here at UAF. Sr. Hamdh emphasized the importance of communication stating that “I truly believe that communication is the key to unlocking doors, minds, and these precious hearts which Allah SWT has entrusted me with”, a sentence I could not agree more with, as communication truly is the best way to accomplish one's goals in an effective and efficient manner.


New Academic Director Highlight

By: Rand Shahrour

Meet UAF’s very own Academic Director, Dr. Berthena Nabaa-Mckinney. Upon walking into the high school building, you will find her working diligently in her newly renovated office. Dr. Berthena is from Nashville, Tennessee, where she travels back and forth from to Tampa. In December of 2019, she moved to Florida in order to assume her new role at UAF, upon Sr. Eman’s invitation. As for Dr. Berthena’s backstory, she is married with three girls and two boys, the oldest being 27 and the youngest 6. She grew up with 8 brothers and a sister, and her father worked as an Imam. For three and a half years, Dr. Berthena worked on her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Professional Practice. Her degree comes with an emphasis on K-12 administration, supervision, and care. She has a wide range of experience in the field of education, with some of the careers she’s had in the past being a teacher, a director, a principal in both a Public and an Islamic school in Tennessee, a school board member, and finally an Education Consultant. Her role at UAF is to improve academic programs and learning spaces to ensure that quality educational experience is being provided to students. Dr. Berthena’s passion and grit is inspiring, and upon being asked about her main reason for pursuing a career in the field of Education, she unhesitatingly replied, “I love kids, I love making an impact in their lives, and I love working and partnering up with people to do the same thing. It's an Amanah that Allah SWT entrusted us with. You guys are our future, and what better way to provide for our future than to make sure we are forming well-rounded and globally aware citizens?” Since her arrival in UAF, Dr. Berthena says that she has loved every part of it. She especially loves working with administrators and teachers, whom she had found enthusiastic to coordinate on providing the best possible academic program for students. Dr. Berthena’s advice for these teachers and all teachers worldwide is: Realize that every student can learn. Build relationships with them and help them become successful, no matter where they are on the learning curve. As for students, her advice is to be the best you can be. Anything is possible-the sky's the limit. Dr. Berthena’s typical day is pretty busy- packed with meetings, observations of classrooms, and finding ways to improve the academic programs in UAF. “UAF is doing great”, She states, “We are working as a team to ensure the best opportunities for students.” So far, Dr. Berthena’s favorite memory in UAF is playing Volleyball with the girls. “I love the people!” , She adds, “This is such a nice, friendly environment, and you feel instantly part of a family.” When speaking of her plans for the future, she states that she is open to whatever Allah SWT has in store for her. We pray that Allah SWT rewards Dr. Berthena for her kindness and all the work that she has done in such a short amount of time.


New Teachers Spotlight

By: Serene Masri

Br. Adam Shehub is one of UAF’s new and dedicated teachers. Br. Adam is currently teaching 9th Grade Biology and 11th and 12th Grade Genetics. When asked why he decided to become a teacher Br. Adam stated how he believed teachers hold an immensely important role in shaping the next generation, and that being able to transfer knowledge to the next generation of Muslims is an opportunity and privilege that he could not pass up, showing a true passion for having a positive influence on the lives and futures of his students. Another influence on his decision to come specifically to UAF was the fact that UAF is his alma mater, telling me that coming back to teach has felt like coming back home. The teachers he had when he went to UAF left a palpable impression on him, and he now wants to serve as a positive influence for the next generation of Tampa Muslims. One of his favorite things to experience since coming to UAF has been being able to interact with the youth in the role of a teacher, which has been a beautifully illuminating experience for him. Every one interaction with every student in every age group is unique and leaves Br. Adam feeling fulfilled and excited for all the things that they are going to accomplish. When asked about one interesting fact or hobby about himself Br. Adam mentioned how he still thinks about terrible endings to series sometimes, and it leaves him feeling embarrassingly upset, which is something many students can relate to, as they most likely, also have a show or book series they did not enjoy the ending of that they randomly think about, leaving them annoyed and unsatisfied. I know I can certainly relate.

Sr. Eman Danon is another one of our new and dedicated teachers to be welcomed to UAF. Sr. Eman is currently teaching the core classes (Math, Reading, Writing, Grammar, Science and Social Studies) to the 5th graders, specifically class 5B. Prior to this job she used to be a private tutor and loved seeing the students that she worked with excel. She described how that ‘Light bulb’ moment when a student understands the content is the most heartwarming feeling any educator could feel, and is part of the reason she decided to become a teacher. Sr. Eman, herself, is a UAF alumni and it only made sense for her to teach at the school she graduated from. Sr. Eman also decided to teach at UAF because the wonderful Islamic environment really helped her realize that UAF would be her best option. Entering the real world after graduating from UAF made her realize how the fact that we can pray Salatul Dhur together, have Muslim friends and our girls can wear hijjab with confidence was a blessing she was happy to return to. Sr. Eman has found the staff and admin to have been more than welcoming and helpful. Her co teachers: Sr.Rema (5A) and Sr.Tara (5C) have been especially helpful in helping her out with anything she needs. But, the students are definitely the highlight of working at UAF, for Sr. Eman, making every day as a teacher so fun and worth it. When asked to give a fun fact about herself Sr. Eman revealed that she owns an Islamic Holiday Decor shop called: ‘ Eman’s Eid Shop ‘. She came up with this idea when she was just a student at UAF. Ever since then, she has been brainstorming some ideas on how to bring the love to our Islamic Holidays and celebrations back and make them more joyful for our future generations. She felt that we needed to do more to encourage our students to fast, and love our Islamic Holidays. Other hobbies that Sr. Eman have are party planning, and baking. Mix those two together and it calls for the best weekend ever.


Arabic, Qur'an, & Islamic Studies Teachers Spotlight

By: Vaniza Atiq, Asma Abdallah, & Sabrina Atiq

Arabic Teachers

The Universal Academy of Florida is a private Islamic school that specializes in not only teaching their students the required curriculum but also teaching them subjects that will help maintain and strengthen their faith, which is why UAF teaches the beautiful and unique Arabic language. Many other schools offer languages, but UAF prioritizes Islam and as such, specifically teaches Arabic as it holds a high status in our religion and helps students know the meaning and translation of the Quran, making sure the next generation of Muslims are not left clueless and ignorant of Allah’s words. Educating students on the Arabic language also has a myriad of benefits educationally speaking. Teaching Arabic helps children educationally as learning another language helps stimulate their brain and improve their comprehension skills, while also helping them in their future, as being able to speak another language, especially one as sought out for as Arabic will give them an edge in the university and job interview process. UAF begins its teaching of Arabic at a young age, with Arabic classes starting in Kindergarten, where they begin with the basics and advance as they proceed through the grade levels. The school has hired elite teachers with the qualifications to teach Arabic to their students three times a week. Some of these teachers also teach Islamic Studies to our Elementary students. These wonderful teachers employ many different methods to assist their students in learning Arabic and advancing their knowledge on the language using activities such as practice workbooks, games, and quizzes, reading passages, a variety of projects, and many more. The goal of our teachers is to keep students away from ignorance and teach them the language that holds such a high status in Islam. Many of our wonderful teachers are incredibly proficient in the teaching of writing and reading Arabic. The Arabic teachers have the ability to broaden students' understanding of the Arabic language and help the students foster an appreciation for it. ~V.A.

Qur'an Teachers

UAF is blessed to have many Quran teachers who can imperatively teach the Holy Book and accommodate every student’s needs. Along with Quran classes twice a week, the Hifz program afterschool further provides the opportunity to complete the memorization of the Quran. Each and every valuable Quran teacher has greatly contributed to teaching the youth the words of Allah (SWT).

Every Quran teacher deserves the recognition for teaching the Muslim youth the importance of the Quran. Sr. Amani, for example, teaches 3rd-11th grade and has taught for 10 years. She hopes that all of her students will gain the ability to read the Quran by themselves with the proper tajweed and harakat. As her method of teaching, Sr. Amani explains the verses in English so that her students can better relate to the Quran and implement that knowledge in their lives. As Ramadan approaches, she wants her students to aim to read the whole Quran. Her favorite surah is Qasas because it includes the story of the Prophet Musa (as), who’s mentioned the most in the Quran. She tells the story of Musa (as) in detail through Surat Al Qasas and has told his story (as) countless times that it has become ingrained in her mind. She has many favorite ayat because she believes that the Quran is rich with meaningful verses that inspire you. She hopes that she can instill the love for the Quran in their hearts. She wants that love to stay with them even as they leave/depart and continue on with their lives. ~ A.A.

When asked about why she teaches the Quran, Sr. Doha gave a beautiful response that she’s never considered teaching the Quran as work but rather a passion of hers. She does it not only for Allah’s reward but for the happiness she feels when her students have learned from her how to read the verses. She feels that it’s her responsibility to give back the knowledge she’s acquired. Sr. Doha finished her memorization for the whole Quran and was tested by her teacher in Syria before graduation. She has also received her ijaza in Quran MashAllah. Sr. Doha teaches a variety of students from elementary to middle school who differ in their level of knowledge and skill. She started her Quran teaching journey at UAF in 2016 by participating in the Hifz program afterschool. The joy of teaching led her to start her full-time adventure in 2017. Sr. Doha strives to build a strong connection in the hearts of her students towards Allah (SWT) through knowing His attributes. Sr. Doha’s favorite Surah Al Baqarah, while her favorite ayah is 153 because it reminds her to seek help through patience and prayer. ~ A.A.

Br. Mamdouh is yet another great addition to the Quran teachers. He teaches 6-12th grade and has been teaching for almost 15 years. He has a strong passion for teaching the Quran as he believes it is an obligation on every Muslim to learn and teach it to others as it is the light that guides the hearts, minds, and souls. As much as he focuses his teaching on tajweed and proper recitation, Br. Mamdouh says that he tries to connect the students to the Quran through the reason of revelation, the meaning, and the stories behind it. The Quran had impacted Br. Mamdouh at an early age, by giving him self-confidence, eloquence, and respect. As he got older, he had the opportunity to study tafsir, which to him, was life-changing. He then started pursuing the field of da’wah and became the imam of the masjid. What drew him to love the Quran was not only the rich Arabic language, but his blind sheikh whom he felt inspired by, to memorize and excel. His mother also contributed to his love for the Quran, as she was happy to see him succeed in the Quran competitions held in different villages and cities. Surah Al Maryam is his favorite, as well as aya 3 from Surat Al-Ikhlas. ~ A.A.

Sr. Samar is another lovely Quran teacher at UAF that we are blessed to have. She currently teaches 4th, 5th, and 7th-10th grade and has been teaching Quran for 20+ years MashAllah. She learned the Quran back home and taught in Jordan, her teaching precisely began in her freshman year. When asked about why she teaches Quran, Sr. Samar passionately replied saying that the Quran is a gift of Allah (swt) to us. Her purpose for teaching the Quran is not about memorization, but reading and fully understanding the verses so that we can apply it to our lives. She believes that the Quran can unite and strengthen the ummah. She teaches the Quran because of the love she has for it and the barakah of it. She cannot imagine life without the Quran. Sr. Samar realizes how teachers can make a student’s love for the Quran grow as her teachers have made her love the Quran. She began teaching in 9th grade. She teaches because of the enjoyment she feels when her students succeed in truly understanding the meaning behind every verse. She wants her students to gain that indescribable feeling when reading the Holy Book. Sr. Samar’s favorite surah is Maida and Al-Furqan because of the beautiful stories behind them, and her favorite aya is 35 from Surah Al Nur. ~ A.A.

Sr. Maha teaches elementary and has been teaching the Quran for 13 years. She teaches the Quran for the reward and for her students to learn to love and appreciate it. She feels that the significance behind teaching the Quran is so that younger generations can learn about Islam. Her favorite surah is Surah Al-Furqan and her favorite ayat is Ayat-ul-Kursi. What drew her to love the Quran was the feeling of having a stronger connection to Allah and the rewards for completing it. ~ A.A.

Sr. Hanin is a beloved Quran teacher here at UAF and has been for the past 5 years. She has taught the Quran in numerous places for several years each. She teaches grade 7 and high school. She wants to enrich the knowledge of her pupils with interesting stories from the Quran and demonstrate how the Quran is applicable for every time and place. She also likes to highlight the scientific facts mentioned and to emphasize on the beauty and wisdom behind the language and words chosen by Allah. She also includes how the Prophet (pbuh), as described by Aisha (ra), is a walking Quran on Earth. Sr. Hanin’s purpose for teaching the most important book on Earth is because it’s an honor for her and she feels that it’s absolutely uplifting and quite rewarding. The Holy Book has made her life meaningful, productive, and happy. It’s given her the ability to understand the hardships and difficulties as she’s learned to accept the decree of Allah. Overall, the Quran improves her quality of life and has brought her closer to the Creator. Her older brother drew her to love the Quran as he is an example of an ideal Muslim. Her older brother had instilled the love of Allah and subsequently, the words of Allah in her heart. She was also blessed with teachers who were giants in their love and knowledge of the Quran. She owes her immense love to them. Sr. Hanin believes the whole Quran is beautiful but if she had to choose out of many of her favorite verses, it would be ayah 77 in Surah Ya-Sin. She also loves Surat Al-Israa. ~ A.A.

Br. Taibi shared that he had loved the Quran since he was a little boy. His father had a great influence on him, as he was a hafiz. When Br. Taibi graduated, he fulfilled his dream of the memorization of the Quran. Br. Taibi teaches from grades 3 to 12. He has been teaching Quran for 13 years, 11 in UAF, and 2 in Muslim Academy located in Orlando. Br. Taibi mentions that teaching Quran is one of the good acts of worship that a true Muslim can do. He teaches the Quran because it is the primary source of respect and integrity both in the present world and the hereafter. Br. Taibi encourages his students to read and listen to the Quran as it brings peace and comfort to a person’s state of mind and heart. He reminds them of the virtues of reading and shares the inspiring stories of the Quran to his students as one of his forms of teaching. Quran, on a personal level, has had a profound impact on Br. Taibi’s daily life as it compels him to always be in remembrance of Allah and to seek the rewards of this life and the hereafter. His favorite verses are Ayatul Kursi because it’s considered one of the most powerful ayat in the Quran. Br. Taibi loves all the surahs in the Quran because each has its unique virtue. He specifically loves Surat that depict stories from previous nations and teaches us morals. If Br. Taibi had to choose, Surah Ar-Rahman would be his favorite because of the Prophet (PBUH)’s words, "Everything has an adornment, and the adornment of the Qur'an is Surah ar Rahman.” ~ A.A.

Our very last, but certainly not least, Quran teacher at UAF is Sr. Khadija Hammida. She teaches 6th, 7th, and 11th grades. She has been teaching for more than 10 years now, MashAllah. Sr. Khadijah teaches the Quran because she feels that it’s rewarding. Every time she teaches her students how to read and the meaning behind the words of Allah (SWT), it helps both her and them to gain further knowledge. Teaching helps her revise the chapters she’s memorized by reading the tafsir that she teaches to her students. When asked about how she helps her students form a strong love for the Quran, Sr. Khadija replies, with the first step to nurturing that love of Allah (SWT), is that it’s placed in their hearts as a part of their fitrah (the innate nature). This will let their love grow by learning how to read and understand the Quran. Her second step is instilling in the students, the respect towards the words of Allah. The third step is to act and apply according to what they’ve learned in the Quran. The Quran has guided Sr. Khadija to feel the solace of being close to Allah. Her favorite surat is Surah Ad-Duha and Ash-Sharh. May Allah reward her for sharing the Quran with others. ~ A.A.

Islamic Studies Teachers

UAF’s Islamic Studies program is renowned for its success, as Brother Mamdouh, who has taught both Islamic Studies and Qur’an to secondary students at UAF since 2015, proudly revealed. “We seek to approach these subjects as priorities, similar to core subjects,” he says, pleased with incorporation of Islamic connections into the wide assortment of subjects offered and at various points in the day, with daily du’aa sessions and lectures given after Dhuhr salah.

Along with an environment that uplifts and stimulates the necessity of providing an Islamic education with regards to outside influence, UAF’s Islamic Studies program also places an emphasis on students’ embrace of their individualism and exposure as well as involvement within the community. This is enhanced through monthly thematic workshops that delve into the basics of Islamic fiqh and approach subjects from real word perspectives. One past speaker includes Shaykh Ammar AlShukry who integrated structured outlooks into his discussion and extended Islamic understandings to contemporary issues.

UAF’s Islamic Studies program distinguishes itself from that of other institutions by its teachers, who one staff member (who preferred to remain anonymous) quoted as “irreplaceable, precious gems.” The team’s firm conviction in the deen is admirable and helps provide the base for students’ attachment to it, as they seek to instill seeds of genuine love for Allah in their tender hearts. Sr. Hanin Kamal, for instance, has devoted her time to instructing secondary students in Islamic Studies for nearly five years and conveyed that she is driven by the importance of adhering to Islamic values in a time of rapidly increasing ignorance and greed.

She communicated the difficulties of maintaining an Islamic identity today, as Muslims in western society are subject to daily discrimination. UAF counteracts this, however, through ensuring a solid foundation for each individual’s religious mindset, and builds upon it with an in-depth understanding of its rulings. This allows them to have access to the skills necessary to overcome and conquer any future barriers, whether they be academic, financial, or physical, as they will not have to struggle with internal confusion or endure spiritual uncertainty in their path towards Allah. ~ S.A.



By: Rand Shahrour

On Saturday, December 7th, 2019, UAF had yet another one of it’s wonderful Annual Banquets. Families excitedly gathered at the DoubleTree hotel in downtown, as volunteers had been diligently working since the morning of that day. This year, UAF featured the well-renowned scholar and leader, Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed. The evening began with a meet and greet, where many youth and adults alike were able to converse with Ustadha and buy signed editions of her famous book, “Reclaim Your Heart”. After Asr, families found their way to their tables with the help of volunteers and enjoyed a pleasant dinner, while the evening was opened with a heart-touching Quran recitation by one of UAF’s students followed by welcome speeches given by our Principal, Sr. Eman and a chairman of UAF’s board, Dr. Mahmaljy. Right outside the hall stood detailed visuals of what the new Gym that UAF has been working hard to build for years looked like. Inside the hall, Shaikh Alaa carried the fundraiser to support the gym and other UAF projects, such as scholarships, to ensure the best opportunities for its students.

Shortly after, the keynote speaker, Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed, took the stage and delivered a powerful and inspiring speech on relevant issues and the unity of our Muslim and local communities. All throughout the event, door prizes such as Nintendo Switches and LG TV’s were awarded to attendees. UAF students made various presentations, including a nasheed presentation where parents excitedly gathered to watch their kids cheerfully sing together on the luminous stage. Two UAF alumnus, Nasreen Nimer and Mohamed Mahmoud informed the audience how their past at UAF helped them build a future and navigate the professional world while also maintaining a healthy relationship with Allah. Their speeches were then followed by the head of high school, Sr. Rosaylah Mahmoud, and the school’s guidance counselor, Sr. Hannan Danon, presenting various awards to AP Scholars who passed 3 or more AP exams. These awards were not the only ones given out that night. Masha’Allah, UAF after school Hifz team, was happy to announce and award two of its students, Syed Hussain and Hadi Qufatieh, who had completed the memorization of the Qur'an. Soon after, the Banquet’s MC’s introduced the amazing nasheed artist Ilyas Mao, who lifted the spirits of the crowd and provided wonderful entertainment. The event was then closed with a Dua by Dr. Mahmaljy and the night came to an end. We would like to thank all the volunteers, staff, and attendees who made this year’s banquet possible and, Insha’Allah, we hope to see you in the next one!


Elementary Spelling Bee

By: Nuzat Indawala

Congratulations to all 41 participants of the Elementary Spelling Bee. There were 18 Spelling Bee winners, Alhamdulillah. The Elementary Spelling Bee took place over a span of a week from March 9th-13th. The judges consisted of teachers from the spelling bee committee, which were Sr. Dhuha, Sr. Yusra, Sr. Aseel, Sr. Henna, and Sr. Saima. Sr. Hamdh, Sr. Eman Elkholy, and Sr. Ezdehar also contributed to the major success of the Spelling Bee. In addition, Sr.Berthena announced all the words to the participants. In Kindergarten, first place went to Haroon Ali, second place went to Muhammad Syed, and third place went to Suad Darrat. In First grade, first place went to Leilah Razaqyar (1C), second place went to Ali Saadi (1C), and third place went to Nawshin Amir (1A). In Second grade, first place went to Mohammed Radwan (2B), second place went to Omar Rukieh (2B), and third place went to Zain Hashmi (2A). In Third grade, first place went to Muhammad Taha (3A), second place went o Aydin Hakim (3A), and third place went to Kholoud Ajose (3C). In Fourth grade, first place went to Firdous Ajose (4B), second place went to Muhammad Hashir Zia (4A), and third place went to Zehra Ali (4A). In Fifth grade, first place went to Nour Alhoda Tounssi (5B), second place went to Noura Bouslimi (5C), and third place went to Sababa Zeba (5B). Thankfully, by Allah’s grace, we had an incredible Elementary Spelling Bee this year.


Middle School Spelling Bee

By: Nuzat Indawala

The middle school spelling bee has been an annual tradition at UAF, where multiple students come together and compete for the title of spelling bee champion. These students put their brains to the test, studying for months at the chance to win first place. The spelling bee committee judges were: Sr. Hayat, Sr. Sadia, Sr. Jamilah and Sr. Rose. This year Sr. Jamilah was the speaker for the spelling bee, hosting all fourteen rounds, all of which in total lasted ninety minutes. The breakdown of the finalists for the 2020 Middle School Spelling Bee were 3 sixth-graders: Anaum Ali, Amine Bentahar, Rimas Saadi; 5 seventh graders: Sneha Kabir, Saniyya Kapadia, Zain Khan, Ramisa Rahman, Maira Syed; and 3 eighth-graders: Yasmina Belkherroubi, Adeeb Islam, Atqiya Labibah, all top spellers of their class, competing for first place after months of hard work. Even though all of these amazing students did an incredible job, there can only be one winner, and the title of Middle School Spelling Bee champion goes to Saniyya Kapadia! Following Saniyya in first place was Rimas Saadi in second place, and Anaum Ali in third place. Saniyya now has the privilege of going to the Regional Spelling Bee in Haines City; if she wins there she will then proceed to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, Inshallah. So far, in UAF history, only one student Ammar, now in 11th grade has advanced to nationals, carrying quite the legacy for other middle schoolers to try and follow.


Islamic Workshops

By: Tahreem Cheema

This quarter secondary students had the opportunity to listen to two amazing speakers. One was a renowned poet, Shaikh Ammar AlShukry, and the other was famed Lakers player and poet, Ibrahim Jabber. After an exhilarating teacher vs students basketball game, with Br. Jabber on the student’s side, he gave a lesson about dealing with an Islamic identity in an unislamic society. First, we watched one of his videos of spoken word, where he mixed both rhyme and Islamic facts to make impactful statements about what it means to be a Muslim. Afterwards, Br. Jabber gave several examples, whereas a famed basketball player, he struggled to stay true to his Muslim identity while still living his big dream. Sharing these personal stories really did help the students at UAF understand how to find a balance between the deen and the Dunya, of living this life while still appreciating Islam for its true beauty.

Shaikh Ammar AlShukry began his talk with a poem that could be summed up into one sentence: Even though we all are different, we are all humans in the very end and we will all answer to Allah on the Last Day. He spoke about the importance of patience through adversity and the power of dua. Relating the story of how a man was blessed with everything he wanted only because he made sincere dua and thanked Allah for whatever he was given. Both speakers truly had very meaningful lessons to share with the youth, and they did a fantastic job of keeping the audience focused on their words. Meeting two great Muslim poets not only taught us, students, important lessons, but also gave us an abundance of inspiration.


Fajr & Pancakes

By: Asma Abadallah

Waking up before sunrise to pray Fajr at the mosque with a group of friends is a great

way to start off the day. The annual event was held for secondary girls and boys at the Sligh

masjid, January 24th and the 31st respectively. The turnout was impressive as girls, parents,

and teachers participated in the prayer and halaqah that followed. After salah, everyone

gathered in a circle and closed their eyes. Sr. Ezdehar led the athkar and afterwards, gave a

halaqah about one of the 40 ahadith of Imam an-Nawawi. She discussed what it means to

have good character and the importance of keeping our hearts and souls purified and clean

through simple, consistent habits. Once the halaqah ended, the group collectively walked to the

school to enjoy a plate of delicious pancakes specially made by the staff/admin. Ayah

Tarabishy, a senior that attended the event, remarks, “you feel the spirituality beaming through

your heart” as she had felt blissful to be together with her Muslim sisters for the sake of Allah

(SWT). The boys' fajr and pancakes was successful as well. The halaqah was given by Br.

Hassan Sultan. Marwan Labban, an attendee, enjoyed the event.


PTO Muffins With Moms

By: Malak Abdulfattah

The Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) is a group of parent volunteers dedicated to supporting our children and school. They are an important part of the school community and their work has been exemplary in the past. The purpose of the PTO is to serve the Academy's best interests by supporting the school's mission, programs, and activities. They work closely with parents, teachers, and staff to enhance your child's experience at school. The PTO helps build school spirit, host activities that encourage family involvement and they raise funds in association with school-wide programs.

Our PTO Officers for this 2019-20 school year are:

Sr. Shaheen Motiwala: Sr. Shaheen is a mom of two (Humza and Inaya), a physician by profession, and has been part of our UAF family for almost 9 years.

Sr. Mehr Khan: Sr. Mehr has been associated with UAF since 2001. She currently has one child, Zain, in 7th grade. She has a degree in medicine from Pakistan and has recently graduated from USF with a Master's degree in Public Health.

Sr. Abeer Khalid: Sr. Abeer is an architect by profession and has been a part of UAF for almost 18 years. Two of her children have already graduated from UAF Alhamdulillah and has her third child, Karam, currently attending 6th grade.

Sr. Rana Almasry: Sr. Rana has been a part of the UAF family for 7 years Alhamdulillah. She has four kids Alhamdulillah: Adam in 5th grade and Rayan in 2nd grade.

The PTO hosted an event called Muffins with Moms on February 25, 2020. All of the elementary students go to the basketball court in the morning to enjoy some muffins, fresh fruit, coffee and juice with their moms or female guardian. This is a successful annual event that has been going on for many years that the kids look forward to.


Spirit Week

By: Ayah Tarabishy

Education is more than just learning, and it is clear that some of the most important

elements of education are the friendships that we cultivate, clubs that we engage in, and sports

teams that we play on. It's these things that make kids and teens enjoy school so they can

socialize with their peers and classmates, share their imagination, and display amazing talents.

It is these clubs and sports teams that help the school spirit grow and spread: the most

important part of education. School spirit is the fuel that keeps the students going. It keeps them

passionate about the school and enthusiastic about academics and clubs involved. To hold

school spirit strong and to honor the outstanding achievements of the committed students of

UAF, the Student Council organized and conducted the annual Spirit Week of UAF. An

enjoyable week full of convivial contests and celebrations. Jersey Day, Twin Day, Blast from the

Past Day, Pep Rally Day, and Traditional Day were the events for this year's Spirit Week.

On Jersey Day, honor your favorite sports team by wearing their uniforms. You can

come dressed as a basketball star, soccer pro, or even your favorite hockey player by wearing

your copy of their jerseys.

Choose a friend or ten to dress up with for Twin Day. While wearing the same outfit as

your mates you can keep things simple or you can get imaginative and do a group costume

theme. I've seen a deck of cards in the past, an army of emojis, a party of French toast, PAC

Man and his friends and many more. We saw Crayola crayons, pirates, prisoners, Alvin and the

Chipmunks and countless other awesome community costumes this year that revealed just how

innovative students and teachers are at UAF. The Teachers vs. Students basketball game, one

of the students’ favorite event, took place on this exciting day. During the game, students

roared, hyping up the teachers and students to give them a great game. The teachers

dominated the Teachers vs. Students basketball game to the surprise of no-one, and everyone's

enthusiasm only lifted the spirits.

On Blast from the Past Day dress up as a historical figure you may look up to. Any

historical character that you have admiration for, figure out what they often wore and come

dressed the same. Some students dressed up as pilgrims while others wore clothing similar to

that of influential figures like Thomas Edison, Malcolm X, and our beloved Mus’ab bin ‘Umayr

(RAA). What a better way to appreciate those who made a difference in our lives.

Pep Rally Day is known to be the most exciting day out of the entire week. On this day,

students are required to unite with their classes and wear clothing all in the same color. There's

less to the theme this day and more to the pep rally. The joy of the younger years is

unmistakable, nobody yells as loudly in elation as they do, at this stage they are personified with

excitement and nothing can bring them down. A host of enjoyable games filled this year's pep

rally such as the game show featuring some families, an intense game of Rock Paper Scissors,

a “Who’s Most Likely To” segment with siblings as participants, and much more. Student

Council did an excellent job with all these fun social games and contests to get the students

hyped up for this Pep Rally. This Pep Rally was a huge success and got all the students

pumped with energy in the classroom.

The last day of Spirit Week allows one to reflect their ethnicity by dressing in the

traditional clothes of your family. This helps the students to take pride in their heritage and to

appreciate the uniqueness of the cultures of their classmates. Not only should everyone have a

sense of pride about where they came from, but it should also make communicating and

learning about other cultures a priority. The greater the knowledge about the universe, the less

likely they will fall into ignorance and bigotry, and the more valuable and strong the relationships

they will build with others.

Mashallah, the student council did an excellent job with Spirit Week, finding a way to

embody the spirit of the school and spread it to every student. This week, you could not help but

get excited. Among friends and classmates, so many wonderful memories were made that I

have no doubt will be cherished for years to come. Spirit Week helped students to forget the

stress that school can cause, and instead appreciate all the wonderful friendships they have

created at this school and all the clubs, events and classes they enjoy during the school year.

Spirit Week helped the students understand why they want to come to school, even with how

challenging education in itself can be.


Senior Night

By: Asma Abdallah

Senior Nights make a comeback, first celebrating our seniors on the basketball team and

another for the seniors on the Varsity Girls soccer team. Senior night for soccer took place at

UAF’s soccer field on January 7th. After the seniors' amazing play, they were congratulated by

their coach, Mariam Saleh, for the hard work and dedication that they have put in during the

season. Afterwards, each senior was given posters to show appreciation. Mouna Shuayb, a

defender, was recognized for her determination and enthusiasm on the field that helped carry

the team’s morale. Ayah Simrin, a center-mid, had great energy and hustle on and off the field,

whether it was coming to each practice and game, playing last minute, or staying after to help

booster club clean up. Hebah Ahmed’s drive to be the best in whatever position the coaches

had placed her in deserves to be acknowledged as well. She adapted so well to new positions

and roles on the field with no complaints, killing it in every game.

The second Senior Night took place at the Temple Terrace Recreation Center on

January 31. The Varsity boys basketball team successfully won against Parrish community.

After half time, the ceremony began. Flowers were given to each senior player and their

parents. There was a huge turnout and the rec was jam-packed with students, teachers, and

parents showing their support. The seniors on the Varsity boys team are Abdullah Hussaini and

Yousef Aref as centers, Zeyad Barakat and Mohammed Khan as forwards, and Laith Jones as


For Varsity girls, Nirmeen Mohammed- Ali played as a guard for her basketball team.

Nirmeen expressed that the ceremony was a bittersweet moment for her, as she loved the sport

but was upset to depart from high school.


New Addition to Secondary Clubs

By: Atqiya Fairooz

Throughout UAF’s history, most clubs have been catered to upper high school. With the start of

a new decade, UAF decided it was time for that to change. For the first time ever, UAF has

implemented a club, National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), catered to middle school and 9th


This incredible new addition allows for middle schoolers to become involved in extracurricular

activities as well as prepare them for their upcoming future. It is a prestigious club that has

handpicked its members for their academic success and commitment to the betterment of

society. These members have risen above and beyond and have exhibited the qualities of

scholarship, service, leadership, and character. NJHS will allow for these exemplary students to

further improve these qualities and strengthen them as a candidate in the future when they

apply for membership into NHS. Moreover, NJHS sets these young and ambitious students on

a road of improvement and success. By being involved in this club, these students learn the

honor and responsibility of being a leader, the importance of knowledge, the priceless value of

service, and the emphasis on having a righteous character.

These individuals have already impressed us from a young age and have shown us that no

matter how young you are, you can make a difference in your community. Thanks to Sr. Hayat

and Sr. Sadia who have taken the responsibility to nurture these students to soon become role

models for other students, we hope to see more clubs introduced to UAF in order to further

enhance middle schoolers’ education.



By: Atqiya Fairooz & Sabrina Atiq

As students engage themselves into their academic studies, they may need an outlet for them

to connect with others and get in touch with their creative side. This is where clubs come into

play, where students can invest their time and energy into something outside of their studies.

Clubs are an excellent way for students to pursue their interests by becoming involved with the

larger community. Students can also develop many great skills as well as priceless memories!

Clubs also allow students to have a voice and be involved in various projects to help in the

improvement of their community. Thankfully, UAF offers plenty of in-school and afterschool

clubs to cater to its diverse pool of students. These clubs include Student Council, NHS,

Booster Club, Humanitarian Outreach Committee, Environmental Committee, Frisbee, Art,

STEM Robotics, American Sign Language, Photography, and Drama. Inshallah, UAF continues

to add on to their selection of clubs for the enrichment of their students’ school experience.




Field Trips

By: Ayah Tarabishy & Tahreem Cheema

2nd Grade Field Trip to iFLY

On February 21st, UAFs 2nd graders took to the sky on a field trip to iFLY, an indoor skydiving park located in Tampa, Florida. Flying high in the sky, the students participated in the main attraction at the facility, sky diving. They were required to wear a suit that enabled them to skydive with ease. Once they were dressed, they entered into a chamber consisting of a large fan built into the floor, and upon entering, they were lifted into the air. They were able to experience a sensation similar to that of a free bird. It was an experience never to be forgotten. ~ A.T.

3rd Grade Field Trip to ZooTampa

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! It was December 3rd when UAF sent it's 3rd-grade classes to ZooTampa at Lowry Park. There, the students were able to view real-life animals and enjoy an interactive experience outside of the classroom. Just simply by roaming around the park, the students learned a lot about a variety of animal species, their habitats, and daily activities. The weather was beautiful and the students were able to appreciate the incredible creation of their Lord. "It was a time of reflection and a time of bonding," as 3rd-grade teacher Sr. Panjeton Noor described. This field trip was both an enriching and enjoyable experience for the UAF 3rd graders. ~ A.T.

4th Grade Field Trip to the Florida Aquarium

On January 13th, the UAF 4th graders ventured to the Florida Aquarium, a field trip that not only entailed examining numerous species of fish but also dissecting a squid and examining its ink pod. They also participated in an exciting scavenger hunt that allowed them to learn about the deep depths of the ocean and the life that exists within. This proved to be both an educational and enjoyable experience for the fourth-grade classes. ~ A.T.

6th Grade Field Trip to Lowry Park Zoo

The sixth graders visited the Lowry Park Zoo to learn more about animals for an Arabic project. During the field trip, they learned about a myriad of different animals and used those observations to complete their Arabic projects. Even though the field trip was intended for students to gather information for a research project in Arabic, the students still had an incredibly fun time at the zoo. As not only did the get to look at so many beautiful and interesting animals they also got to ride a water ride and get hands-on with the animals, by feeding the birds. Is it not incredible how field trips are able to mix education and fun for the students, truly getting them excited about their studies. ~ T.C.

8th Grade Interfaith Field Trip

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) once said: “Convey from me even if it's one verse.” Every year, the eighth graders go on a field trip to speak about their religion in front of other eighth-graders from different schools and different religious backgrounds. These different religions include Christianity and Judaism. Along with other activities like an exciting drum circle and Tai Chi, the eighth graders had the opportunity to present some information about Islam. The presentation talked about basic principles like the five pillars of Islam and what Allah means to Muslims. Islam is truly a religion of peace and mercy, rather than hate and vengeance. Not only did they spread information about our religion, but they also learned from others. Both Christian and Jewish students also shared creative presentations about their beliefs as well. An eighth-grader said her favorite part of the field trip was the drum circle, saying it was both chaotic and interesting. Tai Chi, though pushing people out of their comfort zone, really set the tone for the get-together. To keep a sense of tranquility amongst several groups of eighth-graders. Overall, the field trip has become a tradition for UAF eighth-graders for roughly four years now and it has proven to be a really fun experience. From awkward greetings to possibly gaining a friend outside the Muslim community, the students were placed in an environment many were probably never exposed to. ~ T.C.

8th Grade Field Trip to JA Finance Park

Eighth grade visited JA Finance Park to learn the importance of balancing a budget and understanding how to stay financially stable. The experience was very interactive as students were given a job and family status, and then sent to different parts of the building to buy goods and pay bills. Afterwards, they were given a personality test that matched them to different job occupations they might be interested in pursuing in the future. A chaperone mentioned it was interesting to see how students realized how difficult it was to balance their needs and wants. In the end, the main purpose of this field trip was to educate the students about finance and healthy credit scores so that they may be financially educated in the future. ~ T.C.

9th Grade Field Trip to the Courthouse

Sr. Pilar takes the ninth-graders to the State Attorney’s office for the 13th district, the district that includes Hillsborough County, every year. This year the students got to meet the current state attorney, Andrew Warren, and he spoke to them about his job as state attorney along with answering questions posed by them. After the visit, they walked across the street to the Courthouse and were able to watch a Violation of Probation court. They learned as Sr. Pilar stated that the court system was not like the dramatized version shown on TV shows such as Judge Judy, but instead is a rather serious matter with many stringent rules that must be followed in court. The judge was firm in every decision and gave inmates chances to redeem themselves; and also warned that if a violation were ever to occur again, serious consequences would be given and the inmates would be sent back to prison. This field trip allowed students to witness how the executive and judicial branches work in unison to ensure security and peace, along with protecting rights and administering justice. Seeing the implementation of the law rather than just learning about the justice system in the book opened the student’s eyes to the government system they had not completely understood before. ~ T.C.

11th and 12th Grade Field Trip to TreeHoppers

11th and 12th grade visited an aerial obstacle course named TreeHoppers for their AP Psychology class. The point of the field trip was to show how our preconceptions of an action can affect our mindset, and how once one actually goes through with the action they may find themselves no longer as anxious when thinking about the action or thing. The students had a fun time as many faced their fears of heights while others raced to finish as many different courses as they could. Activities included platform ziplining, tightrope walking, and an array of different obstacles; all of which were completely safe thanks to a full proof safety system. All of which was made much more exciting since it was outdoors and all courses were strung through the trees. One student’s favorite moment was with her friends as they traversed through the ropes, occasionally getting stuck but quickly resolving every problem together. ~ T.C.

Senior Girls Field Trip to Universal Studios

Here at UAF certain privileges are granted to the senior students to help them celebrate and make the most out of their last year at UAF. One of these privileges is the right to have one senior field trip per semester per gender. The senior girls decided to visit Universal Studios Island of Adventures as it is an amusement park everybody enjoys with its abundance of roller coasters and heavily themed areas of fandoms many of the senior girls enjoy such as Marvel, Harry Potter, and Jurassic Park. The field trip was one that was quite memorable as the senior girls went on as many rides as they could and made memories with the people they truly enjoy spending time with, the classmates they grew up with, before soon moving on to the next chapters of their lives. ~ T.C.


Library Happenings

By: Malak Abdulfattah

Every year our library has a vast variety of interesting competitions and events. Our school

librarian, Sr. Maria, is the incredible mind behind these events and putting them into action. This year she teamed up with 2 other classes to help make these events special for the students. The first was a collaboration with the Art class, where they decided to collaborate and celebrate Dot Day by having a Read-Aloud of the book "The Dot" by Peter Reynolds, a picture book about a teacher who challenges a doubting student to trust in her abilities "to make her mark". Then our lovely Art teacher, Sr. Ameena, had the Elementary and Middle School students make "Dot-like" Art projects.

The second collaboration was with the P.E. class which consisted of Sr. Maria reading the book "The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors" by Drew Daywalt to Elementary and Middle school. The students really enjoyed learning about the tale of the classic game and then the following week during P.E. class with Br. Wael and Sr. Manal, they participated in a Rock, Paper, Scissors Hoop Game where they had a blast playing in a fun team environment.

Another event occurred back in September where Sr. Maria started a club for 4th & 5th graders called Library Leaders. The Library Leaders were required to attend 3 training sessions and then take a test before being chosen. They are scheduled to help in the library for about 15 minutes during their school lunch period. Their responsibilities include helping shelve books, keeping a sections tidy and in the correct order, help with library displays and activities such as Book Fair and other events, helping students find what they are looking for and any other jobs the librarian requests. This club not only helps the students develop their research and organizational skills but it also helps build their confidence and self-esteem. At the end of the Semester they all enjoyed a Pizza Party for their hard work!

Just like last year, on February 6th and 7th, the library also had a Book Tasting event which was held for 5th and 6th graders. Sr. Maria transformed the library into a restaurant/café where the students were introduced to a variety of different genres. After the event, many students came to checkout the books they had been exposed to and commented on how much fun it was.

During the Read Across America Week which took place on March 2nd - 6th, Sr. Maria started a Read Across America Bingo which encouraged all Elementary Homeroom classes to participate and compete with each other, encouraging them to read aloud in the classroom. All BINGO homeroom winners will receive a new book from the Book Fair for their classroom library. BINGO winners were also placed in a drawing where one lucky winning class Sr. Aseel's 3B class won a Pizza Party! Unfortunately our Jungle themed Spring Book Fair which was scheduled for March 30th - April 3rd is canceled due to the Corona Virus.

On March 6th, we also had the pleasure of having an Author Visit. Sr. Suad Sultan, author of 'Quran Princesses', visited UAF to talk to the elementary students about her new inspiring book. “I love how the book instills love for the Quran, our Elementary students had a great time!” said Sr. Maria our librarian. As you can see there were many events that took place this quarter in our wonderful library.



By: Nuzat Indawala & Vaniza Atiq

Congratulations to the Junior Varsity boys soccer team for winning all the games in their season.

As well as the Varsity Girls Basketball team for ranking number 1 in the Hillsborough district.

Senior Night, on January 31, has concluded the Basketball and Soccer season for both boys and

girls. On senior night, it was so beautiful to see so many of UAF’s students cheering on all of the

players, especially our beloved seniors. Fortunately, our incredible Varsity Boys Basketball team

won, and the crowd went crazy with excitement, cheering on our amazing players and their well-deserved victory. Furthermore, many new things have changed at UAF sports-wise. For instance,

UAF recently formed its one and only frisbee team, coached by Mohammed Judeh. They have

played vigorously in two tournaments and have won three games, starting off the season on a

great note. The Varsity Boys Volleyball season has also begun to the excitement of many.

According to Ali Chahbander, a former basketball player, they have not started on the best note

but will continue to train hard and put their one hundred percent into their games, inshallah

winning the rest of their future games. The last sports season was an incredible one, and

hopefully this season all UAF sports teams will do just as great.


Faculty Garden

Br. Nawawi and his amazing team made a faculty garden! A beautiful place for staff to go and relax during their breaks. May ALLAH reward them for all their hard work in making such a place of serenity.


Short Story

Here's the second part of the short story that was introduced in our first issue of the 2019-2020 school year!

By: Tahreem Cheema

“The story begins.” Cass smiled from the shadows of her hood. “Now.

The rain poured onto the wanderer as if they were needles, piercing into the drenched silk of the once royal cape. A flash of white blinded his vision, followed by the crashing of the thunder that made his ears bleed. He tripped into the waist-deep water. Too exhausted to stand, he remained on his knees.

“Fine!” He yelled over the anger of nature. “You’ve made your point!”

“Have I now?” The woman floated effortlessly over the rising water. Her

red leather trench coat whipped with the howling wind. The scarlet umbrella hid

her face, all except the small tight-lipped maroon smile.

“I’ll be a better leader.” The prince managed to say, losing his balance as a

mighty wave hit him in the chest. “Please. Just help me.”

“Do you give me your word?” The woman raised her umbrella so that the

young prince could see her striking eyes. One a deep blue and the other a sinister

shade of green. The prince, speechless, nodded his head.

She put forth a hand. The prince used all the strength he had left to reach the

act of mercy. Another flash of white. The prince’s vision went dark.

“Icarus, do not fly too close to the sun.” Those were the last words he heard

before the sounds of muffled arguing filled his ears.

The young prince awoke with a start, searching his surroundings with eyes

wide and breath gone. He relaxed, realizing he was in the grand throne room.

“Well?” He acted as if nothing had happened as he noticed the four pairs of

confused gazes set on him. The young prince adjusted the tilted crown of gold atop

his head of golden brown hair. “Have we decided?”

“Decided on what exactly?” The Knight of the Forgotten, Pedro, furrowed

his brow. The three others gave a murmur of approval.

“On how to...protect the kingdom.” Icarus defended himself though he

honestly could not remember what they were discussing earlier.

“Icarus, we were talking about the Warrior Four who now threaten to

invade.” Paladin of the Lost, Vera, practically shone in the light of the many

candles due to her extravagant and shiny silver armor. Her gray hair spilled out of

an equally extravagant horned helmet. “They will not only invade, but they will

destroy everything.”

“Which is why I asked if we had decided on how to stop them.” Icarus

refused to admit his fault.

“I have something to say.” The Great Scholar of the Past, Santiago, who

never spoke unless absolutely necessary, spoke after a pause. His aged violet robes

followed his movements. His satin headband held the small, ceremonial gold

crescents which hung from rusted chains. “Under your ‘amazing’ leadership,

Prince Icarus, we have lost all alliances. Everyone in this world practically looks

down on us. We stand no chance...not anymore”

“If I may, I don’t think you understand the gravity of this situation.” Pedro

stated, stroking his chin with an armored hand. His armor was similar to Vera’s,

being her brother, but instead of silver it was a rusted turquoise. “In years before,

I’ve held my tongue but I cannot any longer. Your people are dying. They are

suffering. And, yet you have the pride to wear the crown your mother once did?”

“As your prince I beg you to stop.” Icarus was hurt by the mention of his

mother. Pedro, understanding this, complied. The prince was hurt by the

comparison they made. Hurt by the fact that even he knew, he failed to live up to

her name.

Then, Icarus’ most trusted and closest friend rose and took a stand near the

fireplace. Cadence, Chieftess of the Western Borders, unsheathed her dagger and

examined the intricate red carvings on its hilt.

“Icarus. I have no idea what I’m going to do.” She kept her gaze on the

sharpened blade. “As a leader of an entire tribe I have a responsibility. My people

have told me they refuse to fight under your leadership, and I feel the same. You

are no leader, no prince. You are an arrogant coward.”

“Your people are outcasts.” Icarus was not silenced by the uproar and cries

of disapproval by the other three. Cadence just kept a smirk as he continued. “They

have no say in this anyways. This is my kingdom and as my subjects they owe me

their service and valor. I am your prince, soon to be coronated king, and I say we

need to face this threat right now.”

“If I may, your highness.” Vera stabbed her dagger into the mantle of the

fireplace, caring very little about the condition of the valuable wood. “The

Warriors Four want you dead and seeing that you’d rather sleep and let your people

die for you, I say we should just give you to them as a peace offering.”

The prince held his words as his four advisors surrounded him.

“But we give you a chance.” Santiago clasped a heavy hand on the scrawny

shoulder. “Choose to face them on your own and your people will remember you

in legend just like your mother.”

“Or, we’ll make you face them by force and die as the coward the lands see

you as.” Cadence’s words pierced Icarus’ heart like a thousand daggers. Even his

most trusted friend, the one he grew up with, wants him gone. Icarus frowned, heat

rising in his cheeks.

“It has not been easy ruling these lands after my mother’s death. I accept the

fact that I have seen the role I play as burden rather than blessing.” Icarus began,

tears welling into his eyes. “That I’ve ignored my responsibilities and have cost the

life of many of my mother’s people. And...I now accept my fate. This

is what I deserve.”

“Icarus...” Pedro sounded as if he were going to offer a form of mercy, but

Icarus did not want to hear it.

“As your prince, soon to be crowned king, I will face the Warriors Four by

myself. I leave my kingdom under the rule of Cadence, Cheiftess of the West, if I

fail to return.” Icarus stood from the gothic chair, firm in his final decision. “Now,

I must prepare for battle.”

Now As the Sun Begins To Set, Icarus dressed in royal armor made of the

best of gold walks out of the grand gates of his kingdom.

The young prince tried so very hard to stop his shaking. He tightened his

grip around the hilt of the jeweled sword in one hand and the same to the bronze

shield in the other. He forced himself to continue the dreadful walk as he saw four

silhouettes stand tall, all at least ten feet taller than him, in the storm of only dust

and violent wind. His knees were wobbly, his lips were trembling. The only sound

he could hear from the closed space of his war helmet was the howls of the winds

and the thumping of his heart.

“Warriors Four!” Prince Icarus yelled above the screams of nature herself.

He stabbed his sword into the damp Earth and knelt on one knee, the ceremonial

way to face an enemy. From the visor of his knightly helmet, he watched as the

four warriors did the same. One did so with a large ax, the other did with a teal

spear, and two did so with a sword.

“Have you come to pay for your crimes?” The fabled leader of the Warriors

Four, Kole kept his voice very low but loud enough to be heard. Icarus swallowed

as he stood and towered over him, so very intimidating in the black spiked armor

that glistened without the light.

“I--I have come to protect my kingdom.” Icarus struggled to keep his voice

from shaking. He also stood, raising his arm that was wrapped in chains that were

decorated with charms of silver crescents and stars. The sigils of his kingdom...of

his mother’s kingdom.

“All alone?” Kole’s deep voice shook Icarus to his core.

“I...have been a horrible leader.” Icarus retrieved his sword and got in a

defensive position. “This is the least they deserve.”

“Noble of you.” Dawn, the Warrior Four’s deadliest assassin, knelt closer to

Icarus so that he could see her striking green eyes from underneath her black

helmet. “But you have a heavy debt to pay, young prince.”

“What have I done to the likes of you?” Icarus took one small step back, but

regretted it as the four warriors surrounded him.

“The question is what have you done for the likes of us?” The third, Naveen,

the youngest but fiercest of them, spoke as he knelt once again near the grand gates

of the kingdom. “Your arrogance has cost us many losses. So devastating I refuse

to name them, but that is not why we have asked for your presence.”

“Then why? To kill me? To bring an end to my disgraceful reign?” Icarus let

his shield and sword drop to the cracked Earth, and raised his hands in the air. The

ceremonial chains following the wind. “Get it over with, then.”

Icarus grew angry as all Kole did was chuckle.

“We come with a choice.” The fourth, Chalet, the last to join their ranks but

the most determined of them offered a glass goblet full of a deep purple drink.

Icarus focused on Kole, who kept his sinister yellow eyes on the young


“You drink this and you’ll be the most famed king in the history of your

pathetic kingdom.” Chalet explained, twirling the cup. “Or you can give this to the

one man who killed your mother.”

That was enough to catch Icarus’ attention. His blood boiled at the mention

of the man who stole his mother’s life in the midst of battle.

“What?” Icarus asked through clenched teeth. Chalet waved a hand, and

from the storm of dust and stone came a limping man. He clenched onto his

armored side and stumbled to the Earth a few meters away.

“He is dying.” Kole’s voice brought about a silence. “And the only thing that

can save him is a sip of this drink.”

Icarus snatched the goblet from Chalet’s sharp fingers and did what was

unexpected. He was about to spill the drink onto the dry soil.

“Wait.” Wheezed the murderer. “I--I have something to tell you.”

“I don’t wish to hear it.” Icarus spat, refusing to even look at him.

“Your mother...I--I am so sorry.” The man did his best to stand, but couldn’t

manage with his growing wounds. “I...regret it.”

“The most vile of men will plead with repentance when their life is on the

line. You deserve this.” Icarus raised the goblet with an outstretched arm.

“You’re right.” The man said with a heavy sigh, remaining on his knees.

“You’’re right. But I--I just want you to know, I am truly sorry. For


Icarus’ hand trembled as something deep within him begged for mercy to be

shown. All the while, The Warrior’s Four watched with intent. Icarus didn’t know

what to do. He didn’t know what to say. All he could do was squeeze his eyes shut,

memories of his mother flooding his brain.

“Never forget, Icarus, as a leader you must understand that the hardest of

decisions fall onto our shoulders.” His mother’s voice echoed. “Lead your people

with both pride and humility. Fight your wars with both valor and mercy. But most

of all, forgive your enemies so that they may become ally. That is how a great

kingdom may rise.”

“You have a decision, young prince.” Kole shoved the prince out of his own

thoughts, nearly causing the goblet to fall. Icarus towered over the man who

murdered his mother.

“You killed my mother.” He spoke with a growing sense of grace. “But you

now repent. Take this, and I will welcome you as friend.”

The man reached for the goblet...”

“Wait a second.” Connor interrupted the story, much to Cassandra’s dismay.

She threw her hands in the air with frustration.

“Why?” That was all I could say.

“Hold on.” Connor defended himself, raising his twig for silence. “He’s just

going to forgive the man who murdered his mother?”

“Maybe if you had let me finish, you’d know.” Cassandra snapped causing

Connor to flinch.

“I’m sorry.” He quietly mumbled and gave an apologetic bow. “Continue.”

Cassandra cleared her throat and the story moved on.

To Be Continued.


Fun & Games

By: Sabrina Atiq

In celebration of March as women's history month, here are some fun-filled brain teasers and puzzles!

Match Each Woman to Her Achievements!

a. an escaped slave who became a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, leading slaves to freedom before the Civil War, all while carrying a bounty on her head

b. was the 32nd American first lady, helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

c. hospital nurse in the American Civil War who founded the American Red Cross in 1881 and president until 1904

d. poet and civil rights activist best known for her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

e. president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, contributed to the passage of 19th amendment

f. astronaut/physicist, first American woman in space

Word Search Time!

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Word Bank:

  • Amelia Earhart

  • Betsy Ross

  • Clara Barton

  • Dolly Patron

  • Georgia O’Keefe

  • Harriet Beecher Stowe

  • Harriet Tubman

  • Helen Keller

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder

  • Maria Tallchief

  • Michelle Obama

  • Rosa Parks

  • Ruby Bridges

  • Sacagawea

  • Sandra Day O’Connor

  • Sojourner Truth

  • Sonia Sotomayor

  • Susan B. Anthony


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2. She wouldn't give up her seat to a white man

5. "Birdwoman" - Famous Indian Guide

7. First Women to Cross the Atlantic Ocean by Plane

8. First Lady and Social Activist

9. Used the Underground Railway to help slaves

10. Women's Rights Activist


1. Founder of the Church of Christian Science

3. "Angel of the Battlefield" Founder of The American Red Cross

4. First Female Medical Doctor in the US

6. Famous educated woman who was blind and deaf and who overcame her handicaps


The Newsletter Crew

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From left to right:

Lead Editor - Serene Masri

Staff Writer - Rand Shahrour

Coordinator/Advisor - Sr. Maria Perez-Belkherroubi

Staff Writer - Tahreem Cheema

Staff Writer - Asma Abdallah

Junior Photographer - Malak Abdulfattah

Front Row:

Secretary - Sabrina Atiq

Junior Editor - Atqiya Fairooz

Lead Photographer - Ayah Tarabishy

Staff Writer - Nuzat Indawala

Not pictured: Staff Writer - Vaniza Atiq


Past Issues of Our Newsletter for the 2019-2020 School Year

To view our prior issue of our Newsletter from December 2019 (Banquet Issue), click on the link below: