The Falcon Forum

Issue #2 - March 2019

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The Universal Academy of Florida Newsletter, The Falcon Forum, is thrilled to return with its second issue of the 2018-2019 school year. Take a peek inside to see updates on UAF Clubs, Athletic Programs, The Annual Banquet, and more!

IN THIS ISSUE

Banquet

Clubs

Field Trips

NHS Quran Night

Library Book Tasting

Teachers Spotlight

Athletic Programs

Pastries with Parents

Walk-A-Thon

Middle School Spelling Bee

AP Exams

Behind the Scenes

Cici's Fundraiser

Riddles/Jokes/Brain Teasers

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UAF Banquet

By: Aishah Aidoo


The 2018 UAF Annual Banquet was held on a Saturday evening on December 8th. Alhamdullilah, like previous years, the banquet was a success. Sr. May introduced the banquet stating, “It is an honor to welcome you to our UAF Banquet… UAF is a place where dreams are created, nurtured, and launched. UAF will continue to succeed as long as we continue to work together as one”. There was a range of entertainment at the banquet, some of which included: the hysterical MC’s, Abdullah Islam, Maleeha Ahmad, and Diban Sabbagh, who kept the crowd entertained throughout the night; performances from elementary and the hifz program; musical performances from the world-renowned performer Raef Haggag; the heart-warming banquet video where students displayed their love for UAF; as well as empowering speeches from Dr. Suzy Ismail and Dr. Abdul-Hakeem where they spoke of the success for the future of Muslim Americans that attend UAF. Alhamdulillah, an immense amount of donations that were raised will go towards the building of the gym which is currently being developed, as well as towards the expansion of the school for the continuous progression of UAF. Throughout the night, members of the UAF board really stressed the idea of instilling the core principles of Islam, while providing the best education for our students. Many of UAF’s outstanding high school students were awarded and recognized for being AP (Advanced Placement) Scholars, because of their hard work and successes in the rigorous AP classes and AP exams that they chose to take. Superintendent, Dr. Kem addressed and honored the UAF parents describing their UAF kids as, “your most precious gifts you’ve entrusted in our care in the Academy, with all its staff, faculty, and administrators we endeavor to do our best in ensuring a high-quality program of studies for them”. The MC’s kept the eager crowd on their toes towards the end of the night as they announced the lucky winners of the door prizes which included an Apple watch, Playstation 4, Samsung 4K Television, etc. Inshallah, the UAF community is excited to see these funds that were raised, taken into action for even greater achievements from the upcoming future UAF generations.

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Clubs

By: Atqiya Fairooz


With the growth of student’s inspirations and creativity, clubs are places where students look to invest their time and energy. Clubs are outlets for students to contribute to the community while having fun. Some clubs that UAF has for their students are Humanitarian Outreach Club, National Honors Society, and Booster Club.

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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 class and learn, so 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/children excited and interactive in their

education. Field trips teach students valuable lessons while allowing them to grow and form

their own ideas.

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

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NHS Quran Night

By: Serene Masri



This year on Friday, February the 22nd, NHS held Quran Night, an annual event that celebrates the students who have memorized the Quran while also giving families the opportunity to come together and enjoy each other’s company. Not only does Quran Night acknowledge students that have memorized the Quran, it also provides a wide array of fun and games for kids and parents alike to enjoy such as the scavenger hunt, trivia game, and raffle. Kids were having a blast during the scavenger hunt, running around the school building, extremely excited to find the treasure which was a goody bag full of delicious treats, something the kiddos were quite exuberant about. Next they had the trivia game and boy were these kids in it to win it. The competition was fierce because Mashallah these kids are geniuses when it comes to knowing everything and anything about the Quran. I know I was certainly equal parts impressed and intimidated, and while only one person can win all the kids were having a blast showing off their knowledge. Last but not least, the tamest, yet most foreboding event, the raffle. Everyone obviously wants their number to be called, but only one lucky winner gets to go up and receive their prize, if you are interested in being the lucky winner make sure to come to Quran Night next year for the fun, games, prizes, and most importantly the opportunity to spend time with your family while appreciating Allah’s gift to this world, The Quran. If all of the above is not enough to convince you of the utter brilliance that is Quran Night then at least come to support UAF and for the scrumptious food: falafel sandwiches, chicken shawarma, meat pies, baklava and cupcakes for dessert. What other incentive do you need? NHS was able to not only honor the students who have pleased Allah by memorizing the Quran, they were also able to provide families with the opportunity to gather together and have fun with each other while also worshiping Allah, something that is very important and should be a priority. Overall this year's Quran Night was a huge success with an extremely large turn out that exceeded the NHS board’s expectations something they are extremely pleased with and grateful for. To continue to support your children and NHS I highly encourage families to attend next year’s Quran Night, Inshallah.

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Library Book Tasting

By: Aishah Aidoo



The UAF library in “The Library Transformation” featured in the previous edition of The Falcon Forum, was successfully transformed into the 'UAF's Library Café' by our new librarian, Sr. Maria Perez- Belkherroubi. Not only has she made the UAF library visually appealing, but she has brainstormed numerous ideas to give all UAF students more of an encouragement to be engaged in the library. One of these ideas that previously came to life was the prosperous Book Tasting aimed for Middle School, held on Wednesday, February 20th and Thursday, February 21st.


Although, the name of the event alone might not sound appetizing, you’re not quite literally tasting books. What exactly is Book Tasting then? Sr. Maria describes Book Tasting as, “a fun way to get students interested in a variety of book genres and out of their comfort zone of reading the same type of books all the time”. This event was aimed for Middle School because it is typically the time where a student's reading habits starts to gradually diminish. Sr. Maria went out of her way to transform the library into a restaurant/café themed environment as shown in the pictures above. She very much had fun bringing her very creative ideas to life with the use of restaurant-like props. To really set the mood, she even played relaxing café music to make it as authentic as possible for the students. As you walked into the restaurant/café themed library you’d walk up to your reserved seat at one of the 6 tables. UAF's Library Café consisted of 6 tables where each table is a different genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Sci-Fi, Adventure and Realistic Fiction. Each red checkered-cloth table had a book and an extra stack of books in the center where students “sample” the book in front of them and after reviewing the exterior of the books, students spent a few minutes browsing through the inside of the book to develop their first impressions. After about 3-5 minutes, the students wrote down their observations in a menu along with answering a few questions and making note of whether or not they want to add the book to their reading wish list.


Alhamdulillah, Sr. Maria is thrilled to say that this event has been a success for the UAF Middle Schoolers. After the Book Tasting event, Sr. Maria noticed a massive influx of Middle Schoolers the following Friday, who returned to check out the books they had been exposed to during the Book Tasting. Sr. Maria says, “I believe it was a success for two reasons: One being Movement - Our class periods are short (about 43 minutes) I like to try to incorporate movement into my lessons whenever I can. So, instead of delivering each "course" to the table, students had to move through six different tables to look at all the genres. The movement helped them re-focus on a new book for each course. The other, Engagement - I don't know if I can attribute it to any one thing (the table setting, the background music, the vibe in general), but all of our students were so engaged and mindful throughout the whole day. At the end of the event there was a yellow napkin labelled the "Reflection Napkin”, which I collected the following day where I asked their English Teachers to have them write what they thought of the event and if it changed anything for them. Many wrote that they had no idea that our Library had so many good books but not only that, many also mentioned that they were actually surprised to discover that they like other genres, especially Historical Fiction. They mentioned that they really liked the environment of the event and how it was so much fun for them to experience it.”


After the positive and heartwarming outcome, Sr. Maria is delighted to not only offer the Book Tasting to Middle Schoolers, but as well as 5th graders and possibly High Schoolers in the near future. Sr. Maria also plans to incorporate other genres such as Non-Fiction and based off the interests of the students.

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Teacher Spotlight!

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Br. Syed Qadri

By: Serene Masri


Syed Qadri is one of UAF’s new and dedicated teachers. This is Br.Syed’s first year teaching academics, but he has been an Islamic Studies and Quran teacher for over seven years. Taking a different route from his usual position as an Islamic Studies or Quran teacher, this year he is currently teaching Physical Science and Biology. Br. Syed decided to go into education and become a teacher because he felt it was his obligation as a Muslim to spread knowledge and Quran to the next generation of the Muslim Ummah. He was most directly influenced by this quote from our Prophet (SAW). "The best amongst you is the one who learns the Quran and teaches it.", in his decision to become a teacher. After spending seven years as an Imam, Br. Syed felt that he had carried out part of his minimal obligation towards the trust that Allah had placed upon him. He wanted to come out towards the secular side of the world, and UAF provided him with the opportunity to retain the best parts of being an Imam, namely, the Islamic environment and serving the Muslim community, whilst also allowing him to launch into the next phase of his career, a large factor in his decision to come and teach at UAF. Br.Syed has thoroughly enjoyed the new atmosphere that is UAF, one that combines religion with education at the benefit of the students. He has loved lending an ear to the students when they want to vent and is fascinated by their thought process and how seemingly trivial issues are so important to them. Br. Syed wants to advise the students to focus on the bigger picture and hopes to give them the guidance they need. A little fun fact about Br. Syed is that he loves to travel and has spent years backpacking across the world, just imagine all of the real world he has experienced and is able to relate back to his students, providing them with an even better education.

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Athletic Programs

By: Omar Shahwan


Senior Night is the last home game of the season which is meant to commemorate the Senior players who've been committed to their team. Laughter, cheers, and tears filled the air as the Senior players were cheered on by their family and friends throughout the night.


On Tuesday, February 5th, was the Varsity Boys and Girls basketball team’s very own Senior Night. This was the Senior Varsity player's last basketball game and they versed the North Tampa Christian Academy High School. There was a huge turnout with it being the most crowded and attended game this season, all of UAF showing their support. As a reward, Sr. Rosaylah (Head of High School) excused all students in the crowd from any homework due the next day giving them an extra day to finish it! When asked if she had any last words after her last game as a senior on the Girls Basketball team, Maleeha Ahmad stated, "Being on the basketball team for 3 years didn’t just teach me about basketball. It taught me how to be a leader, how to work as a team, how to take initiative, and how to manage my time wisely. It taught me that practice is the key to success and it enabled me to learn how to discipline myself. It taught me to never give up on anything even if you failed 100 times because you will make it in the end. Being on this team not only gave me confidence but gave confidence to many others with low self-esteem. To me , it was never just a game that I had to win, it was making sure that I do my best and push my teammates to do their best. I hope that a lot of young girls decide to pursue a team sport because I believe that it will really help them build an identity for themselves and become a stronger human being. I believe that there should be more female representation in the athletic part of school. Being on the basketball team was one of the most important parts of my High School years and it made me who I am today."


The High School Girls Soccer Senior Night took place on Friday, January 18th. As for the High School Boys Soccer team, their Senior Night took place on Friday, February 15th, where the UAF high school team played against the UAF alumni team. The UAF High School team won with a score of 7-6 making it a very close call. Masha’Allah it was a very entertaining game and we can’t wait till next season’s first game.


As the season for basketball and soccer come to an end, a new sports season has begun, or has it? On Monday, February 11th, tryouts for the High School Boys Volleyball team took place at UAF with around 18 students trying out. Alhamdulillah, all students trying out made the team and have recently begun practicing at the Temple Terrace recreation center. Sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances the season was cancelled and UAF will not be having a volleyball team this year. Insha’Allah the boys’ volleyball team will work out better next year.

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(Source: Google)

By: Ayah Tarabishy


On March 5th, Tuesday morning, UAF PTO hosted a wonderful Middle School event for parents and their children to enjoy a delicious, pastry-filled breakfast. Pastries with Parents is an annual event where students and their parents congregate to eat crispy warm pastries, a perfect start for a perfect day. From the cookies to the danishes to the organic milk and strawberries, I am proud to say that it was an absolute success. Children were laughing and parents were socializing, enjoying their time and spending precious, quality moments with them. That joyful morning was filled with many smiles, as well as pastries to go around.

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Walk-A-Thon

By: Serene Masri



Student Council is known for many things at UAF, but one event that takes the cake when it comes to student council is Walk-A-Thon. The Walk-A-Thon is an annual Student Council event that requires the time and dedication of the entire club to orchestrate it successfully. As a child I remember always getting so excited and hyped up for Walk-A-Thon, and it just shows how things come full circle; because now as a member of student council I help plan Walk-A-Thon. The little kids running around chasing dinosaurs at this Walk-a thon will be planning them too in a couple of years. This year’s Walk-A-Thon was different than the ones I experienced as a child though because Student Council did something they had never done before, they gave Walk-A-Thon a theme, hoping it would raise the kids excitement level and become more interactive. The theme they decided on was Jurassic Park and it was a huge success. The kids loved it and why wouldn’t they. There was an inflatable dinosaur or two running around causing mayhem, plenty of fun games to win, prizes to receive and a loaded snack stand with candy that had their names written all over it. Not only was Walk-A-Thon a success because the kids loved it, but also because of all the money student council raised for their charity of choice, so not only do the students get to have fun but they also get to help contribute to a worthy cause. This year the money made during Walk-A-Thon went to help our brother and sisters in Panama City whose homes and towns were devastated by Hurricane Michael. While planning Walk-A-Thon may be stressful, it is worth it to see all the little rascals running around, enjoying their life, trying to get more laps than their friends, and just having a great time overall because these are the memories they will look back on with fondness when it’s their turn to plan Walk-A-Thon. This along with knowing that the money is going to a good cause makes all of the planning and hard work well worth it, for there is no better reward than the satisfaction of helping your brothers and sisters in this world and bringing a smile to your fellow human beings faces.

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Middle School Spelling Bee

By: Sabrina Atiq


The battle arena isn’t a swimming pool or basketball court, nor are the competitors doing any sort of physical exercise. Yet, the atmosphere is just as, if not more, intense and fierce than a sporting event. Yes people, what I am indeed getting at is the infamous Spelling Bee.


The verbal fisticuffs of Middle School finally began on February 14th, after weeks of commitment and preparation. After 17 heated rounds, Akeel Hakim from 8th grade was the only one left standing. Coming in first with such tough competition was surely an admirable feat, and he smiles proudly in the picture above along with Dania Tarabishy from 7th grade, 2nd place, and Hana Alsabbagh, from 8th grade, who placed 3rd.


Although these three spellers were specially commended for their achievement and have earned their respective victories, the school congratulates all students who participated and worked hard, and hopes to continue to see more faces at these events in upcoming years. In our next edition we will feature the Elementary Spelling Bee.

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AP Exams

By: Rand Shahrour


With the AP exams drawing near, it is time for students to crack open their prep books and hone their knowledge for the big tests. Alhamdulillah, UAF was able to offer its students many AP classes including: AP Chemistry, AP Psychology, AP Art History, AP US History, AP World History, AP Biology, AP Language, AP Literature, AP Calculus, and AP Comparative Government. With AP Psychology being the largest class, and AP World History being the first AP class students are offered. With that being said, here are some of the most frequent questions students have:


What are the dates for each AP test this year?

Like every year, All AP exams will be taking place in the month of May:

Monday, May 6
AP United States Government and Politics


Wednesday, May 8
AP English Literature and Composition


Thursday, May 9
AP Chemistry
AP Psychology


Friday, May 10
AP United States History


Monday, May 13

AP Biology


Tuesday, May 14
AP Calculus AB AP Calculus BC
AP Art History
AP Human Geography


Wednesday, May 15
AP English Language and Composition


Thursday, May 16
AP Comparative Government and Politics

AP World History


When will AP scores be available?
AP scores across the country will be available in early July. You will be able to see all your scores at once. However, The exact day they are released depends on the geographic location and time zone. AP scores will be available for Floridians on Sunday, July 7th, 2019. So make sure to mark your calendars and when the day comes, go to https://apscore.collegeboard.org/scores

Does it cost money to send scores to colleges?

According to College Board, you are allowed to send your scores for free once a year
only by choosing a specific college or institution on your AP sheet. However, if you want to send your scores to more than one college, it will cost you $15 per send. You can also pay a $25 fee for faster processing.


What is the benefit of sending scores?
AP scores are usually not a major weighting factor in college applications. However, reporting your high scores can potentially help you stand out to the college you are applying to. Students must be careful not to submit any low scores they have. Thankfully, the system is flexible in allowing you to pick certain AP exam scores that you wish to show to your college of interest.


If you don’t get a good score on an AP Exam, will it hurt your chances for college admission?
Getting a low score should never discourage students from continuing to grind on AP classes. Yes, perhaps it's not a great idea to send a low score to your college of choice, but nonetheless, colleges love accepting students who always look for the hardest courses offered and constantly challenge themselves. Thus, even if a student does not do well on the AP exam, their willingness to challenge themselves and the GPA boost that the AP class will provide can make them stand out.


Are students allowed to take an AP exam without having taken the course at UAF?
Absolutely! Just make sure to check what exams you wish to take when you are given the AP sheet. Of course, the usual exam fee applies to all the tests you choose whether you took the course or not. The reason College Board doesn’t require students to take the courses is so that home-schooled students and students who’s schools don’t offer these certain AP courses have an equal chance at proving their college level skills.


This is your chance to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the material you chose. Remember to make your final review schedules for the big tests and Insha'Allah your year-long hard work and preparation will pay off. It is highly recommended to relax the day before the tests, have a protein-rich breakfast the morning of, and of course, say your dua's.


Good Luck!


(Information taken from College Board website and Sr. Hannan/Guidance Counselor)

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Behind The Scenes

Starring: The UAF Cleaning, Lunch, and Security Staffs

By: Omar Shahwan

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THE CLEANING STAFF

Sr. Latifa is a one woman army during the day with her taking on the majority of the responsibility of the cleaning staff. She wipes down the tables every day at lunch, cleans the school buildings’ windows, and overall takes care of a vast majority of the tidying up throughout UAF. She cleans all the bathrooms and around all the elementary and high school buildings. Working diligently to make sure that UAF upholds and lives up to Islam’s emphasis on cleanliness.

Giving a friendly smile or simply saying “Thank you” to her in the hallways will surely make her day and show how grateful us students are for her hard work in keeping the campus presentable. Not only should we convey our gratitude verbally but we should also be sure to express our gratefulness by cleaning up after ourselves at the lunch tables and in the restrooms, doing our part and duty as Muslims.

The Lunch Staff

The lunch ladies play a key part in the school’s everyday routine. Five times a day, they prepare and serve food to students of all grades and ages. They heat up the food before every lunch, to make sure it’s good for when the students come in. If a student does not have enough money to purchase their food at the time, they kindly allow them to take their food anyways and just pay them back at a later date showing their kind hearts.


Reordering food all week, receiving, and preparing it all for students can be quite exhausting, so the lunch ladies have decided to build a new kitchen, so that they can finally cook their own food. Having their own kitchen would make the process much easier and increase efficiency.


The problem here is how they would raise enough funds for such an ambitious project. The kitchen would be too expensive to be made without the proper funding. Therefore, they are now trying to find ways to raise money for the project. Having a new kitchen to cook in would mean no more worrying about late deliveries and no more limiting a student’s choices of what they can buy because of a lack of food. So please make sure to keep a lookout for any events they might start to help fundraise for the kitchen!

The Security Staff

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Br. Mohammed (pictured left) and Mr. Carlos (pictured right) form the UAF Security Staff. They keep the school safe from any and all dangers. At 7 AM every morning, Mr. Carlos comes out to the school and puts the cones in place to organize traffic. He opens Building A at 7:30 and then directs traffic with his stop sign until 8:30 by the crossway that connects the school to the big parking lot, making sure that all students and cars are passing the street safely. He monitors one of the gates to enter the school while Br. Mohammed oversees the other gate at the rear entrance to the school. Standing out there every morning requires one to be very observant, he recognizes every parent by face to ensure that they are truly here for their child or any business they may have at the school, keeping the campus and its students safe. He also monitors the playground by Building A to ensure the student's safety. “On Monday through Thursday I need to stay after school till 4, on Fridays, even though dismissal is at 1, I need to stay till 3, that is when Br. Mohammed comes to take over. He would stay after school for I don’t know how long”. To show appreciation for all, always be sure to smile and say thank you to Mr. Carlos and Br. Mohammed when crossing the street or campus parking lot.


Br. Mohammed is also a very important member of the staff. Day and night, he must work hard to ensure the school is safe. In the mornings, he must check all cars entering the school and make sure he recognizes all the parents to not let an outsider into the school. During soccer games after school at UAF or any other events that take place after dismissal, Br. Mohammed must stay behind until the event is over and make sure everyone leaves and goes home before he can. In an interview with Br. Mohammed, he gave a general example of what his daily routine looks like during any day of the week: “I start work every day at seven in the morning and walk around the school to watch all the kids and see that everything is fine. I need to know all the parents to make sure no one else comes into the school (unauthorized). I also need to make sure that Building A is locked so no one without the keys goes in it. I watch the school at night and through the cameras in the weekends, too. Every day I must stay at school until everyone leaves. All in all, Mr. Carlos and Br. Mohammed’s roles in the school should not go unappreciated and they should be given the proper thanks and respect.

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Cici's Pizza Fundraiser!

By: Omar Shahwan



Brought to you by: UAF Admin and the PTO


On Tuesday February 5th, the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) organized a fundraiser event at a Cici’s Pizza eatery, where many UAF families came out to support the cause. Students who participated in the event had a chance at winning their homeroom class a free pizza party by writing the name of their homeroom teacher on the back of their receipt and submitting it to a basket that was later tallied to see which class won. The winning class ended up being the homeroom of 4B in elementary, Sr. Aseel’s class.


The event was used as a fundraiser to help the PTO organize other events such as the Pastries with Parents, Donuts with Dad, and Muffins with Mom events. Alhamdulillah, UAF received about 15% of all profits and will put it to good use in the future Insha’Allah.

The event was a huge success where many UAF families participated and were lucky enough to get an all-you-can-eat buffet menu. There were also many arcade games for the younger students to play, which they really enjoyed. Looking forward to more fun PTO events in the future Insha’Allah!

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Riddles/Jokes/Brain Teasers

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Photo Credit: Brainzilla

The answers will be in the next Issue of The Falcon Forum.

By: Ayah Tarabishy



  1. What belongs to you but is used more by others?
  2. What occurs once in a minute, twice in a moment, and never in one thousand years?
  3. If you are running in a race and you pass the person in second place, what place are you in?





Answers to Riddles in Previous Issue:


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

Ans: A donut

2) Why did the donut go to the dentist?

Ans: to get a filling

3) What did one donut say to the other?

Ans: I donut care

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 mainland. Everyday a tractor and wagon gives hayrides around the island. Puzzled as to how the tractor had gotten onto the island, you ask around and found out that the tractor was not transported to the island by boat or by air. Nor was built on the island. Explain how the tractor got there.

Ans: It was driven over in winter when the lake was frozen.

Guess Who!!!

Can you guess the seniors from their baby picture?!


The answers will be in the next Issue of The Falcon Forum.

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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