Thursday, May 26, 2016

Graduation time!

Five years of a rigorous math and science curriculum at the Alabama School of Fine Arts ends in this! High school graduation at the beautiful and historic Alabama Theater, located just a few blocks from Hamza's high school, in Downtown Birmingham. Friday, May 20th was the big day. Getting ready to head out, in his graduation cap and gown:

In front of the theater:

Once inside, the graduates went to prepare for their walk on to the stage, while we waited to be seated.

Inside the theater the ASFA orchestra performed, as we waited for the seniors to file in.

The seniors stood on stage amidst applause from friends and family:

As you can see, there is no uniformity among what is worn to graduation at ASFA. The front row was represented by a rainbow of colors. Caps and gowns are actually not even required, although many students, like Hamza, chose the traditional black. That is quite the representation of a fine arts school, for sure.

Prior to distribution of the diplomas, the choir performed for the audience.

After the keynote address, by an ASFA alum, the ED presented the diplomas

Such a proud, and emotional moment to see Hamza come to the front to receive his diploma.

After the ceremony was complete and the students filed out, the street in front of the theater was blocked off by the police, so that everyone could regroup and take pictures.

Here is Hamza with one of his favorite math teachers. She had many complimentary things to say about how he has matured during the five years at ASFA. Mrs. L is probably one of the most beloved teachers at the school.

And with Mrs. C, the head of the Math and Science department:

And the outside of the Alabama Theater by night, as the crowds started to thin:

We followed the program with a delicious dinner at the nearby Fish Market Restaurant. A great end to a wonderful evening!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Love our neighborhood!

The Crossing at Deerfoot's homeowner's association picked a great way to honor all the 2016 high school graduates who live in the subdivision, and there are several. This banner is posted at the entrance to our neighborhood, for all to see.

All have been accepted to excellent universities, and will be starting in Fall 2016. Congrats to all the grads!

Monday, May 23, 2016

End of school fun

The last 5-6 days of fourth grade were full of lots of fun activities. I had the chance to volunteer for a couple of hours during the class party, which was more like a mini field day.

There were a couple of games set up for the kids, including water balloon toss and hula hoop toss. A few very talented moms also painted faces and nails.

Tossing the hula hoop over the balloon...

 Oh, not quite!

Cookie cake for dessert!

Bilal's class with their awesome teacher:

I also attended fourth grade assembly the same week, since Bilal was scheduled to receive a couple of ribbons. Here he is, receiving his ribbon for being a 'millionaire' (reading and taking AR tests on books that totaled at least 1 million words).

The other ribbon was for perfect attendance for the entire trimester. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay for the entire assembly, since I was scheduled to be at work, but Bilal was happy to oblige me by wearing his ribbons for a quick pic at home.

School is officially over for the 2015-16 school year, and with the neighborhood pool opening up, we are looking forward to a fun summer!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Honors Day at ASFA

ASFA's Class of 2016 Seniors were honored at their Honor's Day. The program started with a few words from the Executive Director, followed by awards presented by specialty.

In the case of dance, theater, visual arts, creative writing and music, there were no more than 10 graduating students each, so they were called up on stage to be recognized. However, the Math and Science specialty has more than twice as many students, so they stood up for recognition, and only select awards were presented on stage.

There was also a skit made by the juniors for the graduating class, as well as a slide show of all the seniors, with 4 photos each, from baby pictures, to their senior portraits. Of course, that slideshow generated the most 'oos' and 'aas'.

After the program, the math and science students got together for one more group picture, before wrapping up for the day.

Next up, graduation.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Educating the soul

Our youngest child goes to a great public school, and is receiving an excellent education. But raising kids is more about teaching them good math and reading skills. The spiritual education is more up to the family, and I spend time with Bilal at home, teaching how to read the Quran in Arabic, and helping him memorize certain verses of the Quran, as well as Arabic prayers, which comprise Salah, one of the fundamental pillars of Islam. Fortunately, we have help; we also have access to a weekend Islamic School on Sundays, where many volunteers follow an age appropriate curriculum to help nurture the religious components of young Muslims.

The Birmingham Islamic Society's Weekend Islamic School has approximately three hundred students enrolled. Each Sunday during the regular school year they meet for assembly at 10 am, followed by three 45 minute classroom periods and recess in the middle. At 1:15pm, all the students gather in the main Musallah (prayer area) for Zuhr, which is the midday prayer.

This past Sunday was the 2015-16 school year graduation, where all the students receive certificates prior to being promoted to the next grade, and the teachers and volunteers are also recognized. There was also a video presented by the students, and some students sang a song, that they had also performed at a church during one of their interfaith activities for the year.

 Here are the students, preparing to sing:

There was an excellent talk given by a guest speaker, followed by distribution of the certificates.

Some students receive special awards, based on not just academic performance, but other aspects, including behavior and respectful attitude towards teachers and other students, and setting a good example. This year Bilal was nominated by all three of his teachers as an outstanding student.

We are very proud of his efforts in Sunday School, which he takes as seriously as his regular day school. After all, spiritual education nurtures the soul, and this is what will make our children more caring adults.

We will have the summer off, and will be back at school in the Fall.

Monday, May 16, 2016

I want this one to stick!

I am not an athletic person, and am pretty sure that I never will be, but I know it is important to get in shape for health reasons. So recently, when Safa took up a running challenge, I decided to give it a try too, although at a pace and schedule that is a lot more protracted that hers. I enjoy walking, and a brisk walk will do me wonders, but it does not challenge me to become healthier. And I'm pretty sure that the thirty or so minutes of cardio I get in the gym once or twice a week is not doing a lot to get me on track either. I admit though, it's better than nothing!

My downfall is carbohydrates, particularly desserts. The worst thing I can do for myself in my 40s, is to indulge in sweets on a regular basis, and remain quite sedentary. Not a good combination. Thinking that getting more active, plus perhaps cutting a wee back on my carbs will give me license to enjoy guilt-free, what I do consume.

So I am taking on something that I have never done in my life, and that is run. Or so far, limp! Because about a week into the program, all I feel is pain. I get winded, my legs ache, I don't feel great. And the reasons to quit trying seem so many more than the reasons to continue! But today I was particularly proud of myself. While Safa is enjoying spending time with her cousins in Atlanta and Auburn, I took Hamza along with me instead, although it seemed like a perfect excuse not to go! My son doesn't love running, but he does like it enough to want to run periodically. Plus, the exercise helps him get faster for playing Ultimate Frisbee, which is his new favorite activity. So today, between spells of brisk walking, I ran panting behind my seventeen year old, while he looked more like he was out for an afternoon stroll. Not very encouraging, I admit, although he was in no way trying to outrun me.

Tomorrow we plan to hit the gym together; using the elliptical cross trainer is something that even my sedentary self enjoys, and then, as long as I haven't given up by then, we will be back running/walking outside on Wednesday.

I think I can... I think I can...

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Senior year is wrapping up

With Science Fair and the ASFA Math/Science symposium behind us, the pre-graduation activities continue. Last week Hamza wrapped up his AP exams. Today was the Math/Science Senior parent luncheon at the Birmingham Public Library. It was a great great event where the students honored (and poked a little fun at) the M/S Department faculty, and the teachers had the opportunity to do a bit of the same. With a graduating class of only twenty-two,  it's a pretty close group of students.

The teachers shared excerpts from the students' eighth grade application essays, and everyone had a chance to guess which student they belonged to. Then the students were presented with very thoughtful graduation gifts, including this book, with notes from the M/S faculty pasted inside:

It is an adorable picture book, with a surprisingly poignant message. Mrs. Chin, the department head presented the gifts.

There are two finals left for next week, followed by the Mu Alpha Theta lunch for the inducted members. Thursday is Honors Day and that leaves graduation, which is scheduled for Friday. Then a long, relaxing summer, before Hamza starts college in the fall. We are so proud of the young man that he has become; he has matured a lot during his five years at ASFA. Best choice of high school for him by far!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

My heart is full

So blessed to be the mom of these precious kiddos!

All three of my babies at home, and smiling for my camera. I couldn't have asked for a better Mother's Day gift!

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