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Educational Award Ceremony at the Atlanta Symphony Hall

February 2007
Educational Award Ceremony at the Atlanta Symphony Hall

On January 7th 2007, the Ismaili Community in Atlanta hosted the Excellence Award Ceremonies at the Woodruff Center for Arts. Over 300 Ismaili youth students from the Ismaili Muslim community from all across the southeast region were recognized as I-STARs through the I-STAR program for their academic achievement, community service, athletic, or artistic excellence.

The I-STAR program is designed to encourage college readiness among middle school and high school students. In addition to the awards ceremony, a spectrum of multicultural entertainment ranging from Westminster School's string quartet, to a ballet performance by the Great Gig Dance Ensemble students from Cobb County Schools. They performed to music from India and Afghanistan performed by Rafi Akbarzada and Amitava Sen.

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Carol Hunstein said, "Islam's ancient tradition of scholarship and wisdom brought about the renaissance in the medieval times". She reminded the audience, "Education must begin at birth and end at death. Not only pursue education to improve quality of life, but improve [your] contribution to humanity". She was speaking as the keynote speaker at the Excellence Award Ceremonies, hosted by the Ismaili Muslim community at the Woodruff Center for Arts in Atlanta.

This year the ceremony was emceed by Dr. Chris Harrow, Mathematics department chair at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta. The Award Ceremonies included the presentation of the Presidential Service Award by Crystal McLaughlin, Director of Student Development at Emory University at Oxford University. In her introduction she remarked, "When I see an Ismaili student, I assume their commitment to service."

The director of the Atlanta Red Cross, Jodi Phillips, was on hand to present a special recognition award from the American Red Cross to YES (Youth Engaged In Service), an Ismaili Muslim youth group. YES hosted a blood drive in Peachtree city last November which collected 113 pints of blood, equivalent to saving 339 lives.

The highlight of the event was seeing accomplished young students walk the stage to receive their I-STAR award from Justice Hunstein and other dignitaries in the presence of their proud parents and friends. The students all pledged to continue their hard work and be back as award recipients next year.

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