News

Quads are really four unique individuals

By WESLEY REMMER

Staff Writer

“The quadruplets” might be the wrong way to refer to Abdul-Rahman, Mariam, Yumna and Yusra Khuja because the term insinuates a certain oneness. They all speak and understand two languages - English and Arabic - and a third, French, is on the way. But other than a knack for grasping language and a shared last name, the similarities amongst the four begin to fade.

Abdul, Mariam, Yumna and Yusra are all unique. Their different kindergarten teachers at school, and differing talents and interests are only the cusp of what makes the quadruplets four individuals rather than one entity.

“They definitely all have their own personalities,” said their mother, Jamilah Khuja.

The Khujas moved halfway across the world from Morocco to Bremerton in 2005 to be closer to family, and the kids enrolled at Crownhill Elementary in 2007 to begin an American education.

It is important to Jamilah that her children have an opportunity to prosper on their own and this desire played a major factor in her choice of schools. “All their life, they’ve shared everything,” she said. “I wanted a school with four classrooms so they wouldn’t be together all the time.”

The transition into kindergarten has gone well for the Khuja children. They are favorable amongst their teachers and peers and they possess a strong drive to learn.

“They are like sponges, they love to learn,” librarian Jan Bjorke said. “They are liked by the other kids. They are good friends.”

Because the children are in different classrooms, the staff at Crownhill prides itself on generating a consistent message in what the children learn and take home.

“The four of us communicate to make sure we are consistent with the message we send home,” said Teneka Morley, Yumna’s kindergarten teacher. Morley also said that the Khuja children are treated no differently than any other student because, other than during speciality courses and recess, the kids are not together at school. “It might be different if they were all in the same class,” she added.

The quadruplets have great opportunities at Crownhill to grow individually and these chances are enabled by the school’s leadership. “Jill Carlson, the principal, is great. I just love Jill,” Jamilah said.

At school, Abdul, the only boy of the four, immediately stands out from the others. According to his teacher, Patty Peterson, he is friendly and personable. “He’s a neat kid. He’s fun and outgoing. He’s trying to teach me a few Arabic words,” she said.

Abdul’s passion for people is pertinent at home as well. According to Jamilah, he is a jokester, a prankster and an entertainer. “He loves to make us laugh,” she said.

Yumna is the smallest of the four and, like Abdul, loves people and the company of others. “She’s very joyful, very happy,” said Morley. “She’s really engaged when she’s working.”

But there’s more to Yumna’s personality than some may imagine. “She’s a rebel. She has a very strong personality,” Jamilah said. “I might have to look out for her down the road,” she joked.

Yusra is the quietest of the bunch at school, with a soft-spoken attitude and an introverted approach to learning. However, it appears Yusra is getting acclimated to life at Crownhill and is beginning to assert herself. “She has grown so much. She started out timid and shy, but now she has lots of friends and participates in class all the time,” said Yusra’s teacher Janice Rice.

Yusra is gentle, kind-hearted and warm. “She is the sensitive one. Yusra is such a sweetheart,” Jamilah added.

And while Yusra is reserved with words, her artistic ability speaks volumes. Rice noted her natural ability and love for art. “She is extremely talented in art,” she said.

Mariam, according to her teacher Jenny Erickson, is an outstanding student and an even better person. “She is happy, cheerful, eager to learn . . . loves school and gets along with others.”

Mariam’s success at school stems from her natural sense of responsibility. According to Jamilah, Mariam possesses more maturity than her siblings. “I call her ‘little momma’”, she said. “Instead of watching TV, she prefers to help me in the kitchen.”

Mariam’s motherly nature is evident in the classroom, too, as she is friendly and caring toward others. “She is very affectionate,” Erickson added. “She gives me hugs everyday.”

As the children continue to grow - both inside and out of the classroom - the Crownhill staff lend credit to the parents. “The parents have done a great job. They’ve been attentive and made a real effort to reinforce at home what the kids learn here at school,” Erickson said.

Both Jamilah and the Crownhill staff hope to continue their healthy relationship as the kids grow older. The school is kindergarten through fifth grade, meaning the kids could be there for another five years.

Abdul, Yumna, Yusra and Mariam will spend the holiday season with the rest of the Khuja family. The break from school is needed as, at times, the day-to-day grind can be trying. “I never really think about it, but it’s challenging and busy. Everyday is a learning experience,” Jamilah said.

Jamilah and her four children continue to learn everyday, both together and as individuals, as the future awaits the Khuja family. And during a time of the year when families come together, love is shared and memories are made, Jamilah always remembers how lucky she is to be a mother of quadruplets.

“Every day is a blessing,” she said.

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