By C.N. Staff Writer
Students at a northeast public charter high school are graduating- with full scholarships to college. Friendship Collegiate Academy, located in Ward 7, has been graduating seniors with full scholarships. The school has one of the highest four-year graduation rates across the District.
This year the school found scholarships for 19 of its seniors, the most in one year by any school in the nation. The school’s population is primarily African American students who come from low-income families and parents of students who have received them say they are helpful. Jeanette Watkins is the mother of a scholarship recipient, Takima Johnson. She said, “Words cannot express how proud I am of my daughter.”
Friendship senior Dae Juan Funderburk was also one of the scholarship recipients. He received a full athletic scholarship to the University of West Virgina. He said, “Receiving a scholarship to get a free education to do what I love- play football is a blessing. Coach Rahim has made this all possible for us.” On the national signing day Funderburk committed to University of West Virginia and says he is not turning back.
Funderburk is just one of the many football students who have been coached and trained under Friendship’s Coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, who has led the school to the District’s State Athletic Association Championship two years in a row, winning the title in 2012.
Rahim came to Friendship ten years ago, founding the varsity program in 2004 and has turned around the football program in that time. In his tenure he has only had one losing season and has made sure his players get recruited by some of the top collegiate football programs in the country. Many of his former players have gone to play for schools like Florida State and University of Maryland.
Recently, Rahim has been recruited to be a member of the coaching staff at the University of Alabama, in what Rahim has described as an opportunity his must take. “It’s not everyday that you get offered to be a part of, arguably one of the best coaches in his generation, be a part of his staff,” Rahim said referring to Alabama Coach Nick Saban. Officials at Friendship say they are sad to see Rahim leave, but the door is left open for his return. Rahim will take a leave of absence to go to Alabama and will see where the road leads him.
Under Rahim’s program Friendship has sent 98 players to college with football scholarships in the past nine years. He said, “Most importantly, one, educationally, we’ve been able to help a lot of kids attain a college degree.”