Walking into the school, I took in the smell of fresh new paint, bright colorful classrooms, and the look of excited children dressed in blue uniforms.
A typical day at LUA began with students meeting in the auditorium – not only for announcements – but to make a morning supplication.
Classes were next on the agenda – while traditional classes were covered, Arabic, Quran, and Islamic studies were added.
During the school day, another “class” was also included – afternoon prayer.
Muslims are required to pray five times a day.
Out of the four years I attended LUA, being able to pray together was one of my favorite things.
One of the other highlights of being at LUA was that looking around all you could see were people who believed what you believed, who dressed how you dressed, who came from the same places as you did.
I started wearing the hijab (headscarf) at the age of 12.
Going to LUA and seeing all the other girls around me wearing it helped make my decision.
Starting at a younger age gave me the strength to handle being the only Muslim girl wearing hijab at my pubic high school.
Looking back, I realized how lucky I was to be surrounded with people that I could be completely myself.
Being at LUA was most beneficial during the month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from food and drink from sunrise to sunset.
In public school, I would get questions of why I wasn’t eating lunch that day.
At LUA, no one had to ask. School was even let out early, to help fit parents’ schedules during the month.
As with every school, there are positive and negatives traits about LUA.
LUA is a small school. In fourth grade, we had 12 students — more than half related to me.
Give or take a few, I was with this group up until seventh grade. Being with the same people for a long time caused conflicts and drama.
Each of us longed to meet new people.
As my eight grade year approached, I begged my parents for a chance to experience public school.
My dad was chairman of the board at LUA and wanted me to continue.
But I prevailed and attended Southern Middle School. I’m now a senior at Dunbar High and have enjoyed my high school experience in public school.
Reflecting back at my time at LUA, I really do appreciate it. I learned so much more about my faith, which led to making me an overall stronger person.
Even with the ups and downs, the friendships I made there and experiences I had were all worth it.