Bahai News - Getting involved helped Khavari adjust

Getting involved helped Khavari adjust to moving to Fayetteville

By Alice Thrasher
Staff writer

Sheeda Khavari’s family moved to Fayetteville from Oklahoma two years ago when Sheeda was in the tenth grade. She was devastated.

“I was mad,” the Pine Forest High School Senior says. ‘‘I had my friends in Oklahoma, I was No. 2 on the tennis team as a sophomore and had been taking dance for 13 years.”

From February to June of her sophomore year at Terry Sanford High School, Sheeda says she just adopted the idea at first that she didn’t care about anything. She said she called her friends in Oklahoma every week and talked for an hour or more.

Her family moved to a new home off Raleigh Road and Sheeda changed schools her junior year.

She decided to change her attitude, as well.

‘‘I thought I might as well go ahead and make friends,” she says.

As she finishes her senior year at Pine Forest ranked No. 5 in a class of 325, the second-ranked tennis player on a girls’ team that went to the regionals, a member of the new Quality Management Council and a dedicated volunteer at Teresa C. Berrien Elementary School, she now says the change was good for her.

Classmates and teachers say Sheeda is shy and quiet and is not a person who brags about herself. She was selected as one of the 30 outstanding seniors at Pine Forest this year.

During meetings of the Pine Forest Quality Management Council and the senior class graduation committee, other students were surprised to learn that Sheeda had won a community award the week before.

On Feb 25., she was awarded the Alphonso McCoy Award from the Fayetteville Human Relations Commission. It was presented at the commission’s annual banquet, attended by 400 people at Fayetteville State University. The award is presented every year to a person, 21 or younger, for providing ‘‘outstanding service” to the Fayetteville community.

‘‘She just told me about it yesterday,’’ said Jill Austin, who teaches Sheeda’s student government association class at Pine Forest. ‘‘She is quiet. Every other day she comes in here and is diligent and hard-working.”

On the days that Sheeda is not in the student government class, she can be found in a third-grade classroom at Teresa Berrien near downtown Fayetteville. She usually works with two or three students at a time, working on drills for multiplication tables or helping them work on their reading.

She has recently begun working on the new Koalaty Kids Council at the school, trying to help the students improve the quality of their work and their school.

‘‘They love her and respond very well to her,” says the third-grade teacher, Corine Warren. ‘‘She is very dependable and she is self-motivated. I will have in the folder what she is to do and she comes right in, does not disturb the class and goes ahead with the work.”

Sheeda has logged in more than 250 hours of volunteer time at Teresa Berrien Elementary School since last August. She drives 15 minutes to the school two or three days a week to tutor children, eat lunch with them and talk to them as a friend.

‘‘I want to be there for them,” Sheeda says.

She gets credit through a peer counseling class, but Teresa C. Berrien Principal Beverly Scott, who nominated Sheeda for the Human Relations Commission award, says Sheeda is more than a tutor.

‘‘She is not just interested in their schoolwork,” Scott says. ‘‘The children look forward to her coming and the teachers says they look at the clock when it is time for her.”

Sheeda says her father, Fred Khavari, suggested that she volunteer to work with the children at the year around school on North Street.

‘‘He is always saying it is better to serve,” she says. It is part of the Bahai religion that the Khavari family practices -- to work for practical solutions to issues facing all people of the world. Sheeda is involved with the Bahai Youth Workshop and performs dances for race unity and against racism.

Fred Khavari was born in Iran. Sheeda’s mother, Naheed Khavari, a social worker at the Cumberland County Health Department, was born in Pakistan.

Fred Khavari is the quality control manager at Cutler-Hammer plant in Fayetteville. He and others from his plant have volunteered at Teresa C. Berrien, which has been among the lowest-achieving schools in the Cumberland County system.

Sheeda says she gets things in return from helping the young students.

‘‘They are my stress relievers,” she says. ‘‘And I have grown since I have been going there.”

She sometimes gets up at 3:30 or 4 a.m. to study for her four advanced placement classes -- calculus, physics, English literature and environmental science. She also takes Latin III this year.

‘‘I am tired usually,” she says. ‘‘I try to go to bed early at 9:45 or 10.

Sheeda has applied for a yearlong volunteer project in Israel. She hopes to work there for a year before she starts college.

She hopes to go to the University of Oklahoma and study pharmacy. She’s working a part-time job at Northside Urgent Care now to find out more about the medical field.

‘‘I want to become a pharmacist, then get my own business,’’ she says. Then she hopes to move to an underdeveloped country and help poor people get medicines.

‘‘She’s got everything in her life planned,” says Pine Forest sophomore Ashleigh Allen, a member of the Quality Management Council with Sheeda.

‘‘She’s a good role model and she knows what she wants to be.”

Sheeda says she is proud of the Human Relations award.

‘‘I am proud of it and I think I am getting recognized. Not a lot of people get recognized for volunteer service.

‘‘But I want to be modest. I don’t want to brag.”

©Copyright 2000, The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer

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