Houstonian Corner (V9-I20)

Darul Arqam North Houston Continues The Tradition of High Achievement

By Jamaaluddin AL-Haidar

History made and a new marker, as students from the Darul Arqam North Houston Campus captured an unprecedented 108 medals in the Private School Interscholastic Association (PSIA) competition. Since joining the organization in the Fall of 2001, Darul Arqam North students have indeed established a tradition of outstanding achievement. The word tradition comes from the Latin word traditio which means “to hand down” or “to hand over.” Traditions are not born out of ephemeral periods of success. They are developed through a pattern of sustained and elevated achievement. It is this tradition of high achievement that is handed down from one class of students to the next at this small Islamic School on the North Side of Houston.

Year after year, younger students, watching as honors are bestowed upon their older peers, have eagerly awaited their chance to meet and even surpass expectations in carrying on this tradition.

Principal Saboohi Adhami reflected on the mood of the students going into the competition:
“After belief in Allah and the fact that all things are possible with His Guidance, the main things we had going for us were motivation and a sense of responsibility. This year what I noticed among my students when we started preparing for PSIA was a lot more interest. Add to that just a bit of motivation and inspiration and they were all ready to compete in PSIA. The students knew and understood that it is their duty to bring honor to their school.”
If there were any doubts that the current body of students could live up to the expectations of those who came before them they were profoundly erased as Darul Arqam North students dominated the science categories en route to claiming 108 medals and an overall second place finish to perennial champion Holy Spirit Episcopal. The point margin separating the top two schools was so narrow that were it not for the Music and Theatrical Play categories (both of which Darul Arqam did not compete in) in which Holy Spirit Episcopal School competed and earned points towards their school total, the overall winner would have been Darul Arqam North. This was a fact that was not over-looked but in fact verified and duly noted by a PSIA official and representative of the 1st place school.

In years past, Darul Arqam North has always done well in science. However this year’s effort was especially sweet as Sixth graders finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, Seventh graders finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd and Eighth graders finished 1st, 3rd, and 5th in science competition. Modern oratory, creative writing, and prose categories were also dominated by Darul Arqam.

PSIA is a non-profit organization of over 200 private and predominately Christian schools with a stated mission “to inspire private, parochial, charter, and home school student achievement through academic competition.” With 19 contest categories covering a wide range of disciplines, PSIA is an exciting opportunity for private school students in grades 1 through 8 to engage in academic competition with their peers throughout the state of Texas.

When asked about the significance of a Muslim school competing in this event, Principal Saboohi Adhami was profound in her response:

“I think many of the people within, and most of the people outside of our community have an idea that the Islamic school is only focusing on Quran, Arabic, and Islamic studies with little to no regard for academic or secular subjects. So when our students compete in this kind of competition, they prove that the school is giving a wholesome, well-rounded education. In our school our goal is to insure that the students have the tools, knowledge, intellect and skills to compete with those from any school, public or private.”

She also referred to the need to serve the student’s personal development by competing in these kinds of events.

“When the Muslim student competes in this kind of competition, they build up their self-confidence. When they evaluate themselves they find that they are ready to face any challenge. These are healthy experiences of learning, and having fun while competing, that benefits the child. They are experiences that a child will remember throughout their life.”

The tradition of achievement doesn’t end with PSIA. When students matriculate into the high school grades they are no longer eligible for PSIA competition. However, as recent results suggest these students carry that same tradition into M.I.S.T. (Muslim Interscholastic Tournament) competition. Last year, Darul Arqam North students captured the regional and national championship trophy, after finishing second both of the two previous years.
Darul Arqam North is no pushover on the basketball court either. Last week in a MSA (Muslim Student Association) sponsored tournament at the University of Houston, the girls team finished 2nd in a field of 14 high schools. The boys’ team finished a respectable 4th in a field of 18 teams.

New projects are underway to further enhance school facilities. The air-conditioned indoor gymnasium with retractable basketball backboards has been remodeled. A soccer field and running track is currently under construction. Last weekend, the school hosted a successful event that raised over $120,000 for the construction of a new building that will house additional classrooms and science labs.

Principal Adhami admits that none of the successes that the school has had and continues to have is possible without the support of parents, volunteers, and generous individuals in the business and professional sector. Of special merit is the dedication and hard work of tireless volunteers like Sis. Rabia Iqbal. Amongst her many tasks as PSIA coordinator, were attending all the meetings with PSIA officials, guiding teachers on contest requirements, scheduling student practice times and providing photocopies of student resource materials to all contestants, as well as scheduling volunteer judges and contest directors. Her work is still not done quite yet. Darul Arqam North had 27 qualifiers for the state-wide PSIA tournament in Dallas in the coming weeks. With the staff of dedicated teachers, hard-working students, supportive parents and volunteers, the school is poised for yet even more success in the PSIA state competition.

For a complete listing of all medal winners visit the school website at www.darularqamschool.org

Note: Brother Jamaaluddin AL-Haidar is a free-lance writer and middle school science teacher at Darul Arqam North. He also presents Radio Raw Deen – A unique perspective on news, talk, and urban art forms at www.rawdeen.com He can be reached at 281-513-1645…