Valedictorian Asks Peers to Remember Families

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sarah Plummer

g258000000000000000d2c85b229be3c9af2ee04c841eb213f9850da061Every parking space was filled at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center Saturday for Woodrow Wilson’s 85th commencement ceremony. Cars lined Armory Drive and parked in median grass. Without even entering the venue, it was evident many friends and family members came to support the 323 graduates of 2011.

Although the crowd had gathered to praise the students’ achievements, each speaker at the event expressed gratitude to those in attendance — family, teachers and friends — who supported them through their education.

Valedictorian Sania Rahim said she and her peers had “matured together.”

She asked her fellow students to remember their families and the many sacrifices that allowed the graduates to be where they are today.

She also requested that they acknowledge their teachers.

“They have seen us at our best and our worst,” Rahim said.

Salutatorian Emily Wright said the class has “spent the last 13 years heading toward their future.”

And after asking those present to think back on their first day of school, she told them what she has learned most was “to enjoy today while it lasts because the last 13 years have passed in a flash.”

Wright noted that each graduate has the opportunity to leave a mark on the world, “whether they become president of the United States or just volunteer locally.”

Another life lesson Wright said she has learned over the years is that “every bad experience is a chance to do better and learn from your mistakes.”

And finally, she said, she has learned, “some things do not have price tags — like love, honor freedom and peace.”

Woodrow Wilson High School’s 2011 honorarian is Tyler Bonnett.

Graduating seniors Leah Drumheller, Rebekah Stone and Morgan Wright sang “I’ll Always Remember You” with guitar accompaniment as a special musical selection.

Before presenting the senior class to Superintendent Charlotte Hutchens, principal Charles Maynard said his students achieved their recognition with “hard work,” and he asked them to leave knowing they had reached a great accomplishment.

“And I hope and pray that you continue to work hard to reach your goals.”

Hutchens added that, even though she has attended many graduations, she still enjoys them.

“I like graduations because it’s a time of excitement, anticipation and hope,” she said.

Board members Richard Jarrell and Jack Roop participated in the presentation of diplomas. Board member Larry Ford and Nelson Spencer, director of secondary education, were also present.

splummer@register-herald.com

Register-Herald

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Kerim Kerimov

April 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

Vostok-1 launch, 12 April 1961

vostok-1_launchKerim Kerimov was born in the year 1917 in a Muslim family of an engineering background in Baku, Azerbaijan then part of the Russia. After graduation from the Azerbaijan Industrial Institute in 1942, he continued his education at Dzerzhinsky Artillery Academy, where he committed himself to design and development of rocket systems. An expert in rocket technology, he worked during World War II on the inspection and acceptance of the famous Katyusha rocket launchers. His work was honored with the Order of the Red Star. After his  retirement in 1991 he worked as a Consultant to the Main Space Flights Control Center of the Russian Federal Space Agency. General Kerim Kerimov died March 29, 2003 in Moscow, at the age of 85.

Kerim Kerimov was one the great rocket scientist of the Soviet Union and he is considered as the father of Soviet Rocketry.  He was one of the lead architects behind the string of Soviet successes that stunned the world from the late 1950s – from the launch of the first satellite, the Sputnik  in 1957. The first human spaceflight, Yuri Gagarin’s 108-minute trip around the globe aboard the Vostok  in 1961,  the first fully automated space docking of Cosmos 186 and Cosmos 188 in 1967. He also involved  in building the  first space stations, the Salyut and Mir series from 1971 to 1991. Kerim Kerimov  was involved in Soviet aeronautics from its inception. After World War II, Kerimov worked on the Soviet inter-continental ballistic missile program, rising by 1960 to head the   Missile Weapons  Program.  Along with other rocketry experts, he was sent to Germany in 1946 to collect information on the German V-2 rocket. In 1964 he became head of the newly formed Central Directorate of the Space Forces  of the USSR Ministry of Defense. Following the death of Sergei Korolev in 1966, Kerimov was appointed Chairman of the State Commission on Piloted Flights and remained Chairman  for 25 years . He supervised every stage of development and operation of both manned space complexes as well as unmanned interplanetary stations for former Soviet Union. Kerimov was also the Head of Chief Directorate of the Ministry of General Machine Building in 1965-1974, which was engaged in creation of rocket systems.

As in the case of other Soviet space pioneers, the Soviet authorities for many years refused to disclose Kerimov’s identity to the public. At televised space launchings, cameras always focused on the cosmonauts and not the person to whom they reported their readiness to carry out the mission.  Kerimov was a secret general, he was always hidden from the camera’s view; only his voice was broadcast.  Until 1987, even Azerbaijanis did not know that the man holding the Number One position in aerospace was an Azerbaijani Muslim. His name remained a secret until era of glasnost in Soviet Union, when he was first mentioned in Pravda newspaper in 1987.

He wrote a book; The Way to Space, a history of the Soviet space program in which he describes the entire birth and development of the aerospace industry of the former Soviet Union.  Kerim Kerimov was a Hero of Socialist Labor, laureate of Stalin, Lenin and State prizes of the Soviet Union..

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Abundant Faith, Shrinking Space

August 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Mosques Turn to Synagogues, Ballrooms to Accommodate Growing Membership

By William Wan, Washington Post

They stream in through the doors every Friday — a sea of Muslims pouring into a synagogue in Reston.

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Muslims facing a lack of worship space lease a Jewish synagogue in Reston, Virginia, prompting an unexpected cultural exchange.

The men roll out long prayer rugs on the synagogue floor. An imam stands up front and praises Allah. And as the faithful begin whispering their prayers in flowing Arabic, their landlord, a rabbi, walks by to check whether they need anything.

This unlikely arrangement between a burgeoning Muslim congregation and a suburban synagogue is what happens when you combine the region’s rapidly growing Muslim population with a serious shortage of worship space.

As area mosques prepare for the start of Ramadan this weekend, many are simply bursting at the seams. Every available inch — even in lobbies and hallways — is being used. Parking is impossible. Traffic afterward is worse than postgame gridlock at FedEx Field.

Nobody knows how many Muslims are in America — estimates range from 2.35 million to 7 million — but researchers say the population is growing rapidly, driven by conversions, immigration and the tendency for Muslims to have larger families. One study by Trinity College in Connecticut shows the percentage nationwide having doubled since 1990. In the Washington area, the increase might be even sharper, local Muslim leaders say.

A building boom has brought new mosques to suburbs such as Manassas and Ellicott City, but many have been full from the moment they opened. So, desperate for room, Muslim communities have started renting hotel ballrooms, office space and, yes, even synagogues to handle the overflow.

“We say our prayers, and a few hours later they meet for Sabbath and they say their prayers,” said Rizwan Jaka, a leader at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) mosque in Sterling, which added services at two synagogues last year. “People may think it’s strange or odd, but we are simply grateful for the space.”

The extra room will prove crucial this weekend with the beginning of Ramadan — a month of fasting that often draws hundreds to mosques in addition to regular members. Anticipating the throngs, many mosques have hired off-duty police and rallied volunteers to handle the traffic.

“Just like you have Easter Christians, Hanukkah Jews, we have what we call Ramadan Muslims. They just come out of the woodwork on the holy days,” said Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, outreach director at the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church.

Last year at the height of Ramadan, Abdul-Malik had to turn many away to avoid violating occupancy rules, which limit his mosque to 2,000 worshipers. When asked how many he expects this year, the imam chooses his words carefully: “I’d rather not say because of the fire marshal.”

“The prophet Isaiah said our houses would be houses of prayer for all people,” said Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk. “Now, I don’t know if Isaiah could have imagined us hosting Ramadan in the synagogue, but the basic idea is there.”

It turned out to be relatively easy. Their new Muslims friends didn’t need much: wide-open space, carpet to cushion the floor and a place for their shoes. The synagogue’s social hall suited them perfectly.

The arrangement has led to the unexpected benefit of cultural exchange. There have been pulpit swaps, with the imam and rabbi preaching to each other’s congregation and interfaith visits as well.

David Fram, 72, who sings in the synagogue’s choir, was recently invited to the Sterling mosque for daily prayers. It was an amazing, if somewhat awkward, experience. “I didn’t know quite what to do; there was a lot of bending and kneeling in their prayers,” he said.

Standing quietly in the back of the prayer hall, Fram decided to simply bow his head in reverence. He ate lunch (“some kind of spicy meat and rice”) afterward. And a few weeks later, he found himself at Barnes & Noble buying a Koran, out of curiosity.

“It’s not like the U.N. here. We’re not looking to draft some final settlement agreement between Israel and Palestine,” Nosanchuk said. “But we’re learning from each other, and we’re trying to give them the space they need and make them feel at home.”

ADAMS and other congregations are unlikely to solve their space problems anytime soon because of the long lag time usually required for new mosques. Because the Koran prohibits borrowing money at interest, congregations don’t use bank loans for construction. Instead, they fundraise over many years and then pay in cash.

The process can be excruciating.

It took Muslims in Prince William County 10 years before they accumulated enough money for a new home. While they waited, they crammed into a one-story house off Route 234. Each week, they somehow fit 50 cars into a space meant for 20. When services got too full, people knelt outside and prayed on the grass.

Women working minimum-wage jobs donated their family’s jewelry to the new-mosque fund. When construction finally began in 2004, families often drove out to the site just to watch and dream about a future of plentiful parking and prayer space.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

Almost as soon as the new mosque, Dar Al-Noor, opened three years ago during Ramadan, the building was packed with 1,200 people. So this year throughout Ramadan, members will continue praying and fundraising for further expansion, said the community’s president, Mohammad Mehboob.

“We are a community with many people but not so much money,” Mehboob said. “But Allah has always provided for us. It’s amazing we have this mosque now, and, inshallah, we will continue to build and grow.”

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