The Chicago Journal

Bridgeview Islamic School Takes Precautionary Measures Following Receipt of Threatening Letter

An Unfortunate Incident

Aqsa School, a respected Islamic day school situated in Bridgeview, a suburban area of Chicago, had to make a difficult decision in response to a recent incident.

In this incident, the school was the recipient of a deeply troubling and threatening letter that not only sent shockwaves through the school community but also raised important questions about the safety of the students and staff.

The Threatening Letter

The letter in question was not just a mere piece of correspondence; it was an ominous missive that conveyed a sense of malevolence and hostility. The content of the letter was alarming, filled with menacing language that left no room for doubt about its intentions. This communication had all the hallmarks of a hate letter, raising serious concerns about the welfare of those within the school.

Immediate Action

In the face of such a grave situation, the school’s principal, Tammie Ismail, displayed remarkable leadership and composure. She swiftly initiated a series of actions aimed at addressing the situation and ensuring the safety of her students and staff.

Tammie Ismail wasted no time in notifying the relevant authorities about the threatening letter. She reached out to the Bridgeview police, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, and the Illinois State Police, ensuring that the incident was reported and would be investigated. Her prompt response underlines the seriousness of the matter and her unwavering commitment to the well-being of her school’s community.

A Disturbing Content

To truly grasp the gravity of this situation, one must delve into the contents of the ominous letter that arrived at the school. It contained content so disturbing that it sent shockwaves throughout the institution. The content was laced with violent language and referenced a hate crime, specifically the tragic stabbing death of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a six-year-old child, in Plainfield Township. Shockingly, the letter went as far as to applaud this heinous act and describe the accused as a “national treasure.” The deeply unsettling nature of the content went beyond this, delving into racist, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Muslim language. It openly discussed the notion of killing Muslims and Palestinians, creating an atmosphere of fear and apprehension.

Reactions and Fears

Unsurprisingly, the school’s response to this incident elicited a wide range of emotions among its students and their parents. The school community was understandably shaken by the content of the letter and the immediate need to ensure their safety. Many students expressed fear for their safety and began having nightmares. The impact of this incident rippled not only from the tragedy of Wadea Al-Fayoume’s death but also from the stories and images they had witnessed of Palestinians killed in Gaza. The trauma these young minds experienced was palpable.

Tammie Ismail, with her background in education, understood the profound impact such incidents can have on students. In her words, “It’s incredibly difficult as an educator to see your students traumatized by seeing the inhumanity.” It was clear that the school needed to create a safe environment for learning where students could take pride in their identities without fear of being targeted due to their background. Safety and security were not just buzzwords but essential prerequisites for effective education.

An Unfortunate Cancellation

The incident had far-reaching consequences, even affecting the school’s planned events and activities. For instance, the school had to make the regrettable decision to cancel a “fall festival” that was scheduled for Saturday. The reason for this cancellation was twofold. First, it was a response to the events happening to their “brothers & sisters in Palestine,” a poignant show of solidarity. Second, the decision was driven by the rising tensions within their community, a proactive step to ensure safety in the face of uncertainty. In a Facebook post, the school made it abundantly clear that safety was their top priority.

Community Support

This incident brought to the forefront the need for a strong sense of community support and unity. The sense of security and pride among the students, not only for the Muslim and Palestinian students but for all members of the school, was paramount. The incident underscored the importance of fostering an environment where everyone felt safe and could take pride in their backgrounds. Tammie Ismail expressed this sentiment eloquently, saying, “Our children are precious to us in the same way all children are precious.” The vision was clear: a future where students felt a profound sense of security in their identities and took pride in their diverse backgrounds.

A New Approach

In light of the situation, the school had to take a swift and pragmatic approach. To ensure the safety and well-being of its students and staff, the decision was made to temporarily shift to e-learning. This move was not taken lightly but was an essential step to protect the school’s community.

Summer is almost over, 5 activities students should try before it ends

Summer — Summer vacation is beneficial to students since it allows them to rest and revitalize by providing a break from academic routines.

Outside of the classroom, it allows for self-discovery and skill development.

Students can participate in the following five activities:

  • Reading books to enhance literacy and imagination
  • Outdoor sports and games for physical fitness and teamwork
  • Arts and crafts to foster creativity and self-expression
  • Volunteering in the community to develop empathy and social responsibility
  • Exploring nature through camping or hiking to promote a connection with the environment.

These activities outside of the classroom enhance general growth, social connection, and an appreciation for learning.

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Widening the imagination

Summer break is particularly beneficial to students owing to the unique qualities of the season.

Students are free of the constraints of classrooms and textbooks throughout the summer, allowing them to participate in activities that promote personal growth.

The long, leisurely days offer several opportunities to try out new genres and broaden one’s literary horizons, making it an excellent time to immerse oneself in the love of reading.

Summer vacation helps students to develop a love of reading without the pressures of schoolwork or exams, allowing them to widen their creativity and critical thinking abilities.

Social and physical engagement

Students benefit from summer vacation because it allows them to replenish their batteries and explore new areas of personal growth.

Outside of the classroom, it provides a fantastic chance for self-discovery and skill development.

Summertime participation in outdoor sports and activities enhances physical health, teamwork, collaboration, and motor competence.

Arts & crafts allow students to express themselves artistically and independently, while additionally honing their imagination and problem-solving skills.

Community service improves empathy, social responsibility, and a feeling of civic obligation.

Camping or trekking outdoors promotes an intimate contact with nature, increasing awareness and appreciation for it.

These activities, outside of typical academic contexts, improve children’s overall development, form social relationships, and encourage a lifetime love of learning.

Better ways to express themselves

Summer vacation is an excellent time for students to participate in arts and crafts, which foster creativity and self-expression.

Painting, sketching, sculpting, and crafts, for example, allow students to explore their artistic skills and discover their own voices.

Arts and crafts help kids to express themselves authentically and visibly, promoting self-reflection and introspection.

Students’ problem-solving skills improve as they experiment with various resources and strategies to reach their objectives.

Summer arts and crafts not only engage the mind, but also instill a sense of accomplishment, which boosts self-esteem and confidence.


Summer vacation is an ideal time for students to engage in volunteer activities that give several advantages.

Volunteering in the community teaches kids empathy and compassion while actively contributing to the betterment of others’ lives.

Volunteering helps students become more conscious of their environment by educating them on the many needs and difficulties that other communities experience.

It also inspires young people to become involved citizens who want to make a difference by instilling a feeling of social responsibility in them.

Summer volunteering provides opportunities for the development of important life skills such as communication, teamwork, and leadership, as well as the possibility of personal growth and self-discovery.

Connecting with nature

Camping and hiking trips throughout the summer assist kids in a number of ways.

Nature immersion helps students appreciate and connect with their environment on a deeper level.

They may notice the beauty of landscapes immediately, explore various flora and animals, and be surprised and amazed.

Outdoor nature experiences help students enhance their physical fitness by immersing them in activities like hiking, swimming, and climbing, which boost stamina and general health.

Exploring the outdoors improves attention and tranquility while also providing a nice distraction from devices and everyday routines.

It also instills a feeling of environmental responsibility in kids, encouraging them to become advocates for the environment and conservationists.


Summer break is an ideal time for children to recharge their batteries and broaden their perspectives.

Students can begin a journey of self-discovery and holistic growth by embracing the distinctive aspects of summer.

Reading, outdoor activities, arts & crafts, volunteering, and seeing nature are all beneficial during this season.

Summer gives you the opportunity to explore personal interests, promote creativity, build social ties, and acquire important life skills.

Students may fully maximize this essential period by taking advantage of the possibilities that summer vacation affords, creating memories, extending their knowledge, and nurturing a passion of learning that transcends well beyond the classroom walls.

Mental health struggles are factors for college students considering to drop out

Mental healthAccording to a new survey, many college students are concerned about their mental health and are considering dropping out.

Based on the survey, two out of every five undergraduate students, or about half of all female students, experience emotional stress throughout their studies on a regular basis.

The survey

The latest findings were announced on Thursday by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation, a private independent organization.

The survey was conducted in the fall of 2022, and 12,000 people with a high school graduation but no associate’s or bachelor’s degree participated.

More than 40% of undergraduate degree students considered dropping out in the past six months, according to the study.

Some participants preferred emotional distress and personal mental health to financial challenges and academic difficulties.

According to experts, the adolescent years are a critical period for mental health, and college brings significant changes that can function as additional sensors.

Sarah K. Lipson, an assistant professor at Boston University and the Healthy Minds Network’s principal investigator, explained further:

“About 75% of lifetime mental health problems will onset by the mid-20s, so that means that the college years are a very epidemiologically vulnerable time.”

“And then for many adolescents and young adults, the transition to college comes with newfound autonomy.”

“They may be experiencing the first signs and symptoms of mental health problems while now in this new level of independence that also includes new independence over their decision-making as it relates to mental health.”

A mental disease affects one out of every five people in the United States, with young individuals aged 18 to 25 suffering a disproportionate amount of the burden.

For years, the rate of college students suffering from anxiety and depression has been rising, and the issue has only become worse since the epidemic.

In 2023, half of young adults aged 18 to 24 reported anxiety and depressive symptoms, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

Breaking the stigma

Experts agree that mental health in college is crucial.

Lipson claims that it identifies virtually every long-term consequence that people care about, including:

  • The future
  • Economic earnings
  • Workplace productivity
  • Future mental health
  • Future physical health

With this in mind, support is critically needed.

A Healthy Minds Network research from 2021 found that one out of every seven college students reported suicidal thoughts, which was greater than in 2020.

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The Fountain House’s College ReEntry program’s director of outreach and research, Julie Wolfson, stated:

“For a lot of students, this isn’t what they saw their life looking like. This isn’t the timeline that they had for themselves.”

“They see their friends continuing on and becoming juniors and seniors, graduating and getting their first job. But they feel stuck and like they’re watching their life plan slipping away.”

Lipson went on to say that it creates a guilt spiral.

Mental health specialists, on the other hand, pointed out the importance of putting personal needs over the status quo.

“There’s no shame in taking some time off,” said Union College psychologist Marcus Hotaling.

“Take a semester. Take a year. Get yourself better – whether it be through therapy or medication – and come back stronger, a better student, more focused, and more importantly, healthier.”

Authorities also urge educational institutions to help by alleviating pressure by enacting policies that make it simpler for students to return.

“When a student is trying to do the best thing for themselves, that should be celebrated and promoted,” said Wolfson.

“For a school to then put a ton of barriers for them to come back, it makes students not want to seek help.”

“I would hope that in the future, there could be policies and systems that are more welcoming to students who are trying to take care of themselves.”

Support development

Mental health therapy is subjective, and experts suggest that taking a break from school is not for everyone.

Monitoring progress through self-assessments of symptoms and gauges of functioning, according to Ryan Patel, head of the American College Health Association’s mental health section, could help in making the decision.

“If we’re making progress and you’re getting better, then it could make sense to think about continuing school,” said Patel.

“But if you’re doing everything you can in your day-to-day life to improve your mental health and we’re not making progress, or things are getting worse despite best efforts, that’s where the differentiating point occurs, in my mind.”

College counseling centers are struggling to keep up with rising demand.

Moreover, the mental health professional shortage extends beyond the universities.

Researchers feel that universities are well situated to provide students with a support system.

“Colleges have an educational mission, and I would make the argument that spreads to education about health and safety,” said Hotaling.

He feels that college teachers should be trained to recognize serious situations or threats to their students’ safety.

They should be aware, however, that students may experience a series of mental health concerns and should be aware of the services available to assist them.