The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

Niles West’s MSA Hosts Second Annual Ramaday

MSA board members and sponsors pose for a picture in front of a backdrop where pictures were taken throughout the night. First row left to right: Special Education teacher Emin Ademi, science teacher Stephen Mikles, social studies teacher Daniel Kosiba, English teacher Ainee Fatima and social studies teacher Christina Kokoris. Second row left to right: Sana Jafri and Mariya Patel, juniors, and Zunaira Ansari and Asma Patel, seniors.

Niles West’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) proudly presented its second annual Ramaday on March 22. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. This month, dedicated to fasting from sunrise to sunset and spiritual growth, inspired a day-long event at Niles West. The event Ramaday was a drawing inspiration from Maine East High School’s Fast-a-Thon. 

Ramaday’s purpose was to create an inclusive celebration where students and staff are encouraged to observe a full day of fasting. They then participate in breaking their fast all together at the end of the day and engaging in many other fun activities. The purpose is to foster more understanding within the school community and celebrate Ramadan traditions. 

“The goal was to build empathy, unity and just understanding because there’s a significant amount of Muslim students here at the school and I think it’s really important to understand what your peers are going through and why they might be tired. The goal was just to put that into perspective for a lot of people,” sponsor of MSA and English teacher Ainee Fatima said. 

It’s also an opportunity for non-Muslim students and staff to experience a full day of fasting and gain insight into the fasting experience.

“My experience with fasting wasn’t as bad as I had originally thought, I had fasted meals previously for religious holidays such as Good Friday. It was a little harder near the end of the day especially when I was at home because my kitchen was right there. I felt like it was harder because I was using up energy at school. This experience has made me more understanding of how hard it is to fast every day and increased my respect for everyone who does,” junior Nichelle Thomas said.

With it being only the second annual Ramaday hosted by MSA, several changes and improvements were implemented compared to last year’s event. A dedicated three-month planning period was essential for organizing and researching, especially considering that nearly all the food and decorations were donated by local Muslim-owned businesses and the families of MSA members.

“We had more and better food, decorations, community outreach and participation, pretty much everything was a better version of what we were able to do last year,” sponsor of MSA and social studies teacher Daniel Kosiba said. 

MSA members considered it a success, as there were over 200 attendees coming together to celebrate. Much of this success can be attributed to the improved outreach efforts and thorough planning well in advance. To spread the word effectively, MSA members created informational packets for each department, detailing the significance of Ramadan.

“That coordination required working closely with super supportive school leaders like Ms. Lucci, Ms. Carabio, Principal Christian, Mrs. Rodriguez and many others who helped send out information about Ramadan and our RamaDay event to our entire school community,” Kosiba said.

In addition to breaking fast together, the evening was filled with various fun activities. Outside the cafeteria, a henna station was set up, while inside, a photo booth with a backdrop and balloon arch provided good photo opportunities. Attendees also had the chance to participate in the raffle, “Guess the Number of Dates,” for a chance to win MSA merch.  Another important part of the night was an informative Ramadan speech delivered by junior and MSA board member Mariya Patel.

“My biggest role for Ramaday was to prepare a speech for students and staff members emphasizing brotherhood, unity and the purpose of why Muslims fast in the month of Ramadan along with other acts of worship that many do in this month,” Patel said.

Patel’s speech was impactful as it provided valuable information to attendees wanting to learn more about the traditions and significance of Ramadan.

“Mariya Patel’s Khutbah [speech] was my favorite part. Her speech was incredibly powerful and well done. It was the perfect summary of what our club and all members of our human family should always strive to emulate,” Kosiba said.

Apart from the educational part of the night, students enjoyed spending time with friends and enjoying all the fun activities the event had to offer.

“I thought the event was wonderful. It was very nice seeing the traditions and learning about Ramadan. Everyone also looked very nice in their cultural clothes. I also enjoyed breaking the fast with my friends and it was exciting eating together. The food was delicious and I would love to eat it again,” Thomas said.

“I think we’re going to continue to do this and I hope it’s even bigger next year because when I was a student here we had nothing like this,” Fatima said.

MSA is grateful for the support received in planning Ramaday and aims to continue improving it each year!

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