By Maham Haq –
The Arizona Cultural Academy, an Islamic school located in Phoenix, celebrated its 10th consecutive graduating class, the class of 2015, on the evening of Friday, May 22.
Zayed Al-Sayyed, an alumni of the first graduating class of 2006 and current board member of ACA, moderated the event. After the 11 members of the graduating class walked down their red carpet and took their seats on the stage, a short recitation of the Qur’an was performed by one of the graduating seniors, Talha Abid, followed by a talk by Dr. Salaheddine Tomeh. Tomeh, who founded ACA in the ’90s, attributed the success of his school to hard work and the support of many. He said his dedication to the students was further strengthened when he had the opportunity to travel on Umrah with many of the graduating students. He credited the students with sparking the enthusiastic Muslim in him he hadn’t seen since he was a young adult and was impressed by their diligence and dedication to their faith and friendship.
One of those students was Mahleej Zara, who graduated on the Honor Roll, with an associates in arts, and a Provost Scholarship to Arizona State University, as well as the ACA loyalty award for attending ACA for 14 years.
“I have attended Arizona Cultural Academy since I was four years old and ever since then it’s been a part of me. ACA has allowed me to create everlasting relationships with wonderful people. I have made friends that mean the world to me and I am so grateful to have them in my life. It’s amazing to always be surrounded by people who understand your faith and constantly support you every step of the way. It gave me comfort to be in such a familiar environment and I thank Allah for giving me the privilege to grow in a school dedicated to keeping us close to our faith,” said Zara.
Aside from the rigors of high school and preparation for their futures, some of the ACA gradutes believe the uniqueness of their school is not just in its academic flexibility, but in its roots as an Islamic school. Many of the students appreciated the atmosphere ACA allowed them to experience their high school years in and felt that it made their transition into adulthood a lot simpler. The small graduating class size of 11 created a very special bond among the students in which many of them described each other as family.
For the graduates, “ACA is a home away from home,” said Zara.