The Falcon Forum

Issue #1 - Dec 2018

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The Universal Academy of Florida Newsletter, The Falcon Forum, is thrilled to present its first issue of the 2018-2019 school year. Take a peek inside to see what's going on in UAF Clubs, Athletic Programs, the transformed Library, and more!
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Field Trips

Teachers Spotlight

Book Fair

Athletic Programs

Donuts with Dad

Traveling with UAF

Behind the Scenes

Special Recognition/Awards

UAF Clubs

By: Atqiya Fairooz & Monira Bush

While a student’s education is an important part of their school experience it is not everything. It can definitely be said that one of the most vital parts of high school are the clubs the school provides. Clubs allow students to interact with and contribute to their community; they allow them to get involved with their education; and allows them to do and practice the things they love. UAF has a variety of clubs for the students that allow them to do just that. The Humanitarian Outreach Committee, National Honors Society, Booster Club, and Student Council are wonderful examples of some of the clubs UAF has.

The Humanitarian Outreach Committee (HOC) is dedicated to improving the community and inspiring other people to give back to their communities. HOC does this by coordinating many events to bring the students together to achieve the goal they have set for whatever project they have taken on. HOC made sure to start this year successfully by raising Breast Cancer Awareness with their Think Pink week; not only did they spread awareness, but they also hosted several contests and bake sales to raise money for this honorable cause.

HOC is currently collaborating with Student Council to raise money for our brothers and sisters from Panama City, so they can join in on the fun at MIST. ~A.F.

Library Transformation!

By: Aishah Aidoo

“Wow! I have a lot of work to do!” were the first words of the new Librarian, Sr. Maria Perez–Belkherroubi when she first laid eyes on the UAF Library. Sr. Maria, who's been a Librarian for three and a half years, states that “As a Librarian I want to instill a love of reading in students”. With the help of fellow staff members and her good friend, Sr. Bonnie, Sr. Maria has designated an abundant amount of her time to reorganizing the library making it user-friendly for the UAF students and staff.

Where would you even start off making the drastic changes that were done to the UAF Library? It first starts off with a procedure known as weeding, which is an integral process of systematically removing resources/books from a library by ensuring the collection stays current, relevant and in good condition. This is done in order to open up the library’s limited space for even more books and clearly organize the books that pertain more to the students’ interest as well as convenience. As you walk into the now, vibrant, open, and comforting library, you see tables centered in the middle of the library for students of all ages to engage in their free time. The clear signage that organize the sections of books, range from Teacher References to Islamic Books to Non-Fiction Books. Sr. Maria not only has gone through many of these books organizing them into proper sections, but she also uses a successful system of marking some books on the spine with AR (Accelerated Reader) stickers as well as colored stickers that indicate different grade levels so students are able to know which books are allowed due to thematic elements, including the very popular graphic novel/comic book stickers.

Sr. Maria believes that it is crucial for students to have a Library because she feels that it is important for developing students to “improve verbal and vocabulary skills, even if a student is reading at a lower level than what they are, as long as they keep on reading”. However, she wants to give UAF students more of an encouragement to be engaged in the library not only by reading more but also having secondary students coming together and sharing educational games among friends. She is currently in the process of brainstorming numerous ideas to get students to be involved in the library such as: surveying students to determine what books they would want, author visits either in person or via Skype and a restaurant-like setting called Book Tasting, a great way to let readers sample different authors, genres and series.

Alhamdulillah, Sr. Maria is enjoying her time at UAF so far, despite the hard work she has dedicated to putting in the library. She says, “I've gotten help and support from staff for rearranging the library and I feel welcomed by everyone.” When asked what her first impression of UAF was, she answers “The staff/parents have been very inviting and being a convert, I feel comfortable being surrounded by people who share the same faith as me.” The UAF family is grateful to have such a dedicated Librarian this year who is willing to go the extra mile.

Field Trips

By: Dena Berhan

A wonderful education that teaches their children everything they need to know in life while also being enjoyable is what every parent wants. Sometimes it is difficult for children to just sit in a class and learn, but field trips allow students to take what they have learned or are learning and see how it can be applied in the real world. Field trips not only provide a valuable learning experience for students, but they also get kids excited and interactive in their education. Field trips teach students valuable lessons while allowing them to grow and form their own ideas.

The 12th grade journalism class went on a field trip to downtown Tampa and New Tampa. I spoke to Aishah Aidoo and this is what she experienced on her field trip:

Aishah Aidoo says, “Our journalism (yearbook) field trip to downtown Tampa and New Tampa was for getting pictures mainly for the transition pages of the yearbook that tie in with the theme of the yearbook that we’re going for this year. We visited the Tampa Theater which is a historical theater located in the heart of downtown Tampa that was built in the 1920's. A lot of the astonishing interior architectural work and decorations were original with minor changes, so it was awesome that we got a sense of ideas for the yearbook as well as really unique pictures that suit our theme. We kind of just strolled around downtown Tampa hopefully finding places that suited our yearbook theme, but with limited time we had to go to our last destination which was the AMC Highwoods Theater that has this really cool retro movie theater vibe. We got really good pictures there and we hope with the help of these places and the pictures we got from this field trip it’ll help bring our theme in the yearbook together.”

The 2nd grade class has been to Busch Gardens School Zoo. The zoo provides great lessons for the class that they are guaranteed to love. They were able to see animals that they probably never saw in real life, while also learning more about them, allowing them to make connections between real life and what they are learning.

Lastly, the 3rd graders went on a field trip to the Tampa Theater to watch a live show on body parts and how to take care of them. This taught them many different lessons that they could take home and apply in their day to day lives on how to take care of the body Allah blesses them with.

Alhamdulillah UAF provides the students with field trips that are not only fun, but also teaches us all different types of lessons. This can range from moral values to educational lessons. InshAllah we can continue to learn from these lessons and apply it to our day to day lives.

Teachers Spotlight!

Other new Teachers will be spotlighted in our future publications.

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Br. Ahmar Rana

By: Serene Masri

Ahmar Rana is one of UAF's new and dedicated teachers. This is his first full time teaching job, but he has done tutoring for standardized tests and led game design workshops at schools. Prior to working at UAF he worked in the education video game industry. Br. Ahmar is currently teaching: AP Literature and Composition (12th grade), STEM Skills (Kindergarten-5th grade), Design and Modeling (6th-8th), and Computer Science (11th-12th). Br. Ahmar has always enjoyed working with children and helping others however he can. He believes that it is the duty of all Muslims who are blessed with knowledge to share it with others and strengthen the Ummah. All of these are reasons that led to him teaching at UAF.

This decision was made easier for him because his sister is actually UAF’s resident
Art teacher, Sr. Marium, who actually recommended that he should come and teach at UAF. So far Br. Ahmar has found his experience at UAF to be tiring but utterly fulfilling. His favorite thing about working here is getting to know all of the other wonderful teachers, describing it as a big family united by Islam. When asked to give a little fun fact about himself to finish of the interview this is what Br. Ahmar had to say, "I'll admit I'm pretty eccentric and have a lot of interests so it's hard to know where to begin. The Rocky films are my favorite series of movies. Sylvester Stallone is a majorly inspirational figure and the movies speak so directly to the themes of overcoming adversity, making the most of every opportunity life gives to you and struggling against overwhelming adversity for those you love. 'It ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward'."

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Br. Shaheed Baker

By: Serene Masri

Br. Shaheed Baker is another one of UAF's new and dedicated teachers. This is Br. Shaheed’s first teaching job, but before he came to UAF he had worked as a Paraprofessional for the past 4 years while he was in school to become a teacher. He currently teaches 6th Grade World History and AP World History (10th). Br. Shaheed has always wanted to be a teacher and he has finally fulfilled his dream. He had recently gotten married and moved to the Tampa area; his wife has children who graduated from UAF and 2 still attending UAF, so it was a natural fit to come and teach at UAF; especially since he found that his family fit well with the family feel here at UAF. Br. Shaheed had wonderful things to say about his teaching experience here at UAF, considering the staff and the students to be extreme blessings and going on to say that the UAF parents and students were blessed to attend a school like UAF. When asked to give a little fun fact about himself to finish off the interview this is what Br. Shaheed had to say, “I was the Head Wrestling Coach at Eastside High School in Gainesville, FL and I love wrestling. Not the fake stuff on TV but the real wrestling that are in the Olympics. I would love to start a wrestling club team here at UAF in the future. Oh and Wrestling is a Sunnah!”

The Book Fair

By: Sabrina Atiq

Alhamdulillah, the Scholastic Book Fair was a major success! It was launched from October 30th to November 2nd, located in UAF’s Assembly Room for easy access to all grade levels. The book fair provided an extensive assortment of all types of books for the students to enjoy: including novels, short stories, poems, arts, dictionaries, cook books, encyclopedias, and a variety of other genres as well. Themed the "Enchanted Forest", it was beautifully decorated, and set up, making it seem as if its visitors were surrounded by mesmerizing creatures.

Wanting to encourage the younger students and show them the utter enjoyment that came from getting lost in an incredible novel, Sr. Maria, our Librarian, and Sr. Souraya organized multiple activities, including the ‘Giant Blue Dragon Raffle’ and the ‘Guess How Much Unicorn Food Challenge’ in exchange for prizes. This brought students to the book fair allowing them to not only play a game and possibly win a prize, but to find a book they could fall in love with. Sister Wijdan from 1C conveyed her happiness when she said that she was very content with the event and anticipates next year’s. The winners of the activities mentioned above, Abdullah Sajid and Sana Melliti, stand proudly in the photo above. Overall the Book Fair was incredibly put together and succeeded in its goal of not only increasing sales by 58% but also encouraging students to read, getting them to love reading and seeing the value in a good book.

Athletic Programs

By: Omar Shahwan

UAF’s athletics program has begun! Br. Wael is in charge of the boys Middle and High School soccer teams, which have both finished conditioning and tryouts, and have started practice as the season begins. High School soccer tryouts took place at UAF’s soccer fields on the 17th and 18th of October. Middle School soccer tryouts were on the 15th of October. The first boys High School soccer game UAF has played so far was against Seffner, and Alhamdulillah UAF won 2-0. As for the girls Varsity Soccer team, Coach Sara Filali and Assistant Coach Mariam Saleh have conditioned and held tryouts at the UAF field as well. They have not yet won any games, but one of the Team Captains, Emna Gharsalli says, "We have a new group of girls who make up for lack of experience with determination and commitment. I'm excited to see another group of UAF soccer girls flourish into athletes and also watch themselves gain experience."

Middle School boys had basketball tryouts on the 11th and 16th of October, and the High School girls had basketball tryouts on the 28th of October at the Temple Terrace Recreation Center, where many of UAF’s basketball ‘home’ and ‘away’ games take place, as well as practices. The High School basketball team’s coaches are Coaches Asia, Ayah, and Deborah. The Varsity and Junior Varsity tryouts were on the 28th of October, and also took place at the T.T. Recreation Center. The JV team’s coaches are Coaches Ahmed, Isa, and UAF’s sports director Br. Mohammed Saleh with Br. Mohammed also coaching the Varsity team. As you will see in the UAF banquet video, and in the pictures above, all the team members are determined and are practicing hard.

Insha’Allah this will be a successful year for all of UAFs’ sports teams. The last sport teams whose seasons have not begun are High School boys volleyball and Ultimate Frisbee. Volleyball for High School boys is the most recent sport added to UAF’s athletic program. Tryouts for this team will begin later this year. We have also yet to receive news about our UAF chess team.

Ultimate Frisbee has previously been an athletic club at UAF and will be starting their practices soon at Davis Island Park. This team will be coached by UAF’s High School history teacher, Br. Mohammed Judah. The only thing left to say is, “Good luck Falcons, and have a successful year with many wins! Insha’Allah.”

Donuts with Dad

By: Ayah Tarabishy

On a Wednesday morning this past November, UAF's PTO hosted a sweet breakfast for fathers and their children as an opportunity to bond and eat a sprinkle-filled treat. In the bustle and hustle of the new school year, many parents have little time to spend with their children. Donuts with Dads was a precious opportunity for families to reunite and spend some much needed bonding time together, something that can be rare during the busy school year. Alhamdulillah, our Donuts with Dads this year was extremely successful, gathering families together to share a conversation, a laugh, and of course, a donut.

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Photo Credit: Redbubble

Traveling with UAF!

By: Rand Shahrour

Being able to travel throughout the world, experience different cultures, and see breathtaking sights is a blessing many people pray for. UAF brings these wishes to life and offers their students incredible opportunities by partnering up with EF tours, and taking their students to different places around the globe. So far UAF and EF tours have taken students participating to Spain and Italy, both were incredible experiences that the students will remember for the rest of their lives. These travels allowed them to enrich their cultural understanding as well as expand their base of knowledge about the world.

In July of 2019, UAF students will be able to take a ten to twelve day trip to the Capitals of the British Isles. Insha’Allah, the travelers will visit the capitals of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, and an optional extension to France. Each sight and entrance will provide a greater appreciation of the cultures, histories, and politics of the various countries. Full-time directors from EF tours will accompany the students as well as one of our high school teachers and coordinators, Sr. Pilar Saad. The trip will begin with a tour of Dublin, Ireland, where the students will visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is the largest and tallest Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. The next stop will be Belfast of Northern Ireland, where attractions like Giant’s Causeway and Titanic Belfast, a maritime museum and the site of the RMS Titanic’s assembly, will be visited. The students will then travel to Edinburgh, Scotland and take a ferry to Stranraer. They will be able to attend a Scottish Ceilidh and visit Edinburgh’s most prominent attraction: The Edinburgh Castle, known for its rich history of rulers like Mary Queen of Scotts and James I. Next, the travelers will take a train to London where they will tour the great city and be exposed to a melting pot of cultures and a vast history of royalty in Great Britain. London’s tour will include the Baroque domes, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Piccadilly Circus’ intersection, Windsor Castle, and a chance to see the changing of the Guard. One of three educational museums: The Natural History Museum, Victoria Albert Museum, or Science Museum will be selected for visiting. After that, ten days would have passed, and the students will either depart for home or choose to go on a two day extension of the tour to Paris, France. Paris will offer great opportunities and attractions like the Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, and of course the Eiffel Tower. The students will take a walking tour of Paris, where they will experience the rich and distinctive culture of France. Finally, they will Visit Notre Dame Cathedral, which would mark the end of the twelve day trip.

Alhamdulillah, these educational trips have shown to be immensely beneficial and have equipped travelers with much needed historical knowledge and deeper cultural understanding of the world.

To learn more, please contact the trip coordinator, Sr. Pilar Saad, and make sure to stop by her class to get a brochure for more information. Also, keep posted for any upcoming assemblies about the trip!

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Photo Credit: National

Special Recognition/Awards

By: Monira Bush

The Head of High School, Sr. Rosaylah Mahmoud, announced that Faatima A. Qaudeer has been named a commended student in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program. A Letter of Commendation from the school and National Merit Scholarship Program, will be presented by her to this scholastically talented Senior.

About 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise. Although they will not continue in the 2019 competition for National Merit Scholarship awards, Commended Students placed among the top 50,000 scorers of more than 1.6 million students who entered the 2019 competition by taking the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

“The young men and women being named Commended Students Have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success,” commented a spokesperson for NMSC. “These students represent a valuable nation resource; recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role their schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation. We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them as they continue their pursuit of academic success.”

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Photo Credit: Apptism

Riddles/Jokes/Brain Teasers

By: Ayah Tarabishy

1) I have no beginning, end, and nothing in the middle. What am I?

2) Why did the donut go to the dentist?

3) What did one donut say to the other?

4) You are on an island in the middle of a lake. The lake is in a remote part of the country and there has never been a bridge connecting the island to the main land. Every day a tractor and wagon gives hay rides around the island. Puzzled as to how the tractor had gotten onto the island, you ask around and find out that the tractor was not transported to the island by boat or by air. Nor was it built on the island. Explain how the tractor got there?

Find the answers on our next edition of the Falcon Forum!

Behind the Scenes at UAF!

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Starring: The UAF Maintenance Team from left to right:

Br. Hosam, Br. Ahmad, Br. Mohamad (AbuGhassan), Br. Mohammed (Nawawi)

Not pictured: Br. Hocine

By: Omar Shahwan

Introducing UAF’s hard working maintenance crew! Often under-credited, UAF’s maintenance team has done wonders around UAF. “We do everything from installing new sprinkler systems to cleaning (clogged and dirty) bathrooms,” states Br. Mohammed Nawawi, the supervisor/director of the crew. Just this month they fixed a clog that was overflowing the grass with water. As shown in the photo, the crew has done so much to improve the school and make it as great as possible for its students and staff. Some of the relatively new features of UAF that we can thank them for are the volleyball court, the basketball cover, the new plants and flowers, and many other small but important additions or fixes. These are hard working men who are dedicated to benefiting the school, and generally improving UAF.

Without these loyal and hardworking employees, half of which have kids who attend the school, UAF would not have been able to accomplish a majority of their goals. This group of hard working men are usually looked over or under credited which should not be the case because they take care of the school's needs and complete countless tasks to upgrade the school.

The Newsletter Crew

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Photo Credit: Sr. Rania

From left to right:

Staff Writer - Omar Shahwan

Staff Writer - Rand Shahrour

Staff Writer - Dena Berhan

Junior Editor - Serene Masri

Staff Writer - Monira Bush

Secretary - Atqiya Fairooz

Lead Editor - Aishah Aidoo

Coordinator/Advisor - Sr. Maria Perez-Belkherroubi

Front Row:

Staff Writer - Sabrina Atiq

Photographer - Ayah Tarabishy