COLUMBIA — Parents attempted to get last minute photos of their preschool and fifth-grade graduates before principal Aminul Islam asked everyone to take their seats during the Islamic School of Columbia's graduation Saturday.
In addition to celebrating the graduation of the school's preschoolers and fifth-grader, the ceremony at Smithton Middle School also highlighted the students' academic achievements. Students on honor roll and who excelled at the Iowa Test of Basic Skills were recognized.
This year, 10 students scored above the 90th percentile, which means they scored higher than 90 percent of students in the country. Three of those students, Maryum Khaja, Sidra Jawaid and Faiyaz Hossain, scored in the 99th percentile.
The students who made the honor roll were also recognized and given plaques for their achievement. These students maintained a 95-percent grade average. 29 students received this award.
11 of the graduates sat on stage in maroon robes as the ceremony began. Eight were graduating from preschool and four from fifth grade. One fifth-grader could not attend the ceremony.
Each fifth-grader presented a short speech about their experience at the school.
“In preschool, I thought fifth-graders were in college. I wondered ‘Why don’t I get to carry textbooks?’ and now here I am graduating,” Sheehan Parvez said.
Hossain and Zaid Khaja both spoke about what they learned. Hossain even thanked each of his teachers individually.
Jawaid, who was not available to attend the ceremony, recorded her speech earlier so it could be played during the ceremony.
“We wanted to show you her speech in order to make sure she was not left out,” Aminul Islam said.
After the fifth-graders' speeches, school board member Farrukh Jawaid presented the certificates to the graduates. He asked the graduates what they wanted to be when they grew up as they received their certificates. The top answers included doctor, firefighter and astronaut.
Despite the students' ambitious plans, the ceremony was not just about sending off the graduates. It also had significance for the the community.
"It's a community school, so we all help each other, and everyone pitches in," Samiha Islam, a volunteer at the school, said.
The school plans on eventually adding higher grade levels in the coming years. They are apprehensive but excited about the potential change, Samiha Islam said.
Administrators plan on offering sixth grade in the fall and adding seventh- and eighth-grade classes in the next two years, Aminul Islam said. However, these plans are not yet finalized.
Supervising editor is Ted Hart.