Noor Al-Stuy Places Second at MIST Regionals

Stuyvesant MSA continued its ten year legacy of placing among the top two with its second-place win at MIST regionals this year.

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Every year, Stuyvesant’s Muslim Student Association’s 60-person team Noor-Al Stuy (“Light of Stuy”) takes part in the annual competition Muslim Inter-Scholastic Tournament (MIST). Noor Al-Stuy has always placed either first or second at MIST regionals. This streak has been continued with Noor Al-Stuy’s recent second-place win.

MIST started with a single high-schooler in Texas in 2002 and has expanded into a national tournament. This year, regionals for MIST New York took place at The City College of New York on March 30 to 31 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. each day, while the Awards Ceremony took place at Hunter College on April 6 from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Forty-one schools competed at MIST New York Regionals. Brooklyn Tech secured first place, followed by Stuyvesant in second, and Townsend Harris in third. Competitors who placed at regionals will advance to MIST Nationals, which will take place in Baltimore, Maryland on July 17 to 19. Last year, Noor-Al Stuy placed first at regionals and third at Nationals.

Anyone can take part in MIST. It is an event designed to display an individual’s talent, regardless of whether or not said individual is Muslim. MIST organizers encourage non-Muslims to participate, and a “Diversity Award” is given to the school with the most diverse competitors. During MIST, students compete in a multitude of competitions. The competitions are Arts (2D Art, 3D Art, Graphic Design, Photography, Fashion Design, Culinary Arts), Brackets (Debate, MIST Bowl, Math Olympics, Brothers/Sisters Improv), Group Projects (Business Venture, Science Fair, Humanitarian Service, Social Media, Short Film, Brothers/Sisters Nasheed), Writing & Oratory (Extemporaneous Essay, Extemporaneous Speaking, Original Oratory, Spoken Word), and Knowledge & Quran.

During the weeks leading up to the tournament, Noor-Al Stuy diligently prepared for the competition. “[Preparations were] very nerve-wracking. A lot of the time, we stayed after school or at Whole Foods until 7:00 or 8:00 p.m., working on our competitions,” senior and Stuyvesant MSA President Mohammad Haque said. “[The seniors and MSA Board] have to constantly check in with the other competitions to make sure that they are keeping up with their tasks. It can be tolling, but it can be really worth it to see at the Award Ceremony everyone cheering and screaming for those that placed.”

When asked about how Stuyvesant managed to continue the 10-year streak, Haque responded, “I think it’s a lot of sheer determination and will on the part of the board and the members to bring in their A-game for MIST. One of the things MIST does is that it brings people together, and having that kind of team solidarity, especially at Stuy, it does help out a lot. Going into MIST, we know that [we] are a single unit, we are one team, and we are in this together.”

Continuing the legacy required the current leaders to mentor underclassmen, just as past leaders mentored them. “It was a bit overwhelming because all these years, I’ve seen all these upperclassmen carry the team and now it’s my role to contribute to that. I was worried I was going to be unable to fill in their shoes, but I think we did a pretty good job. It was a matter of upholding the pride,” senior and Vice President Zaakirah Rahman said.

While placing first last year at MIST Regionals, Noor-Al Stuy was still happy with their second-place win. “Of course, you would want to do better. You would want to bring home the championship every year, but you have to be thankful that we were able to keep up the streak for 10 years,” Haque said.

“I’m definitely really proud of us because in the beginning it didn’t seem like we were going to place at all. Second place is still, in my heart, a big accomplishment. With that being said, I do understand that we are Stuy and our place is to be first place and hopefully, next year, those [who] are remaining at Stuy will work harder. There are some things that you cannot control. So we did have a lot of negative experiences this year leading to us placing second, but I think it’s best to put those aside and work harder,” senior Anika Hashem, who also qualified for Nationals for Humanitarian Service and Short Fiction, said.

The competitors are even discussing plans on how to perform better at Nationals and next year. “If we just grind in the next couple months, we should be able to do well. I feel like because we are up against more competition, it might motivate us to work even harder,” Rahman said.

Hashem agreed. “One of the biggest challenges I had this year was controlling Humanitarian Service and making sure everyone had a voice and that it went as smoothly as possible. So, my plan for Nationals is making sure that everyone is on board and knows what they are doing. I felt like we didn’t communicate at times, and that may have caused us some problems. Also, working on our presentation skills because we did everything we could logistics wise, but I feel like our presentation could be improved,” she said.

During the competition, while everyone was concerned about their competition and the final placings, there were moments when they enjoyed themselves and had a chance to have fun with their friends. Most people looked forward to the massive Chant War toward the end of the tournament, where everyone screamed various chants from their school. Stuyvesant students chanted “345 Chambers Street, Noor-Al Stuy will bring the heat!”; “S-T-U-Y, we will leave you miSTUYfied!”; and “Noor Al-Stuy Noor Noor Al-Stuy!”

The biggest takeaways from MIST are the relationships and memories formed during the weekend rather than the placings. “When you talk to alumni who have been doing MIST for years, they say that they don’t really remember the actual placings and the trophies that they won. They remember cheering and the laughs and jokes they had with their members,” Haque said. “MIST’s main goal is to bring people together, and once it’s done that, it’s done its job.”