Tree dedication to deceased classmate

Samira’s family, former coach Ms. Asaro, and fellow JV and Varisty basketball teammates gather around the tree after the dedication.

On Thursday, May 21, the Academy of Mount St. Ursula’s That’s Life club led the school from chapel, after the Mass of the Ascension, to the front of the school building for a tree dedication ceremony in honor of their fellow classmate Samira Ahmed ’11. It has been five months since the sudden death of Samira, and the students wished to end the year with a symbol of life and hope.

The tree selected was a dogwood tree which, legend has it, was the same tree used to crucify Jesus. Fr. John Vigilanti, president of Mount St. Ursula, shared the legend with the students and faculty. He noted, “Jesus promised to transform the tree to only grow 40 feet high and to yield blossoms, so that it would no longer be a symbol of suffering but a symbol of life!”

He then proceeded to break ground along with the moderator of That’s Life, Mrs. Joanne Kelly. Samira’s mother and sisters who attended the Mass and ceremony also participated. They were joined by the members of the Junior Varsity and Varsity basketball teams who each had an opportunity to dig up some dirt and make their mark.

Samira has inspired many with her legacy of being an all around good student and dedicated athlete. She was a humble girl with many friends and her coach, Ms. Jillian Asaro has worked diligently throughout the year to keep her memory alive. On Wednesday, May 6th the annual faculty student dodge ball game was held. Typically this event raises funds for the Athletic Association, but this year the co-directors of the Athletic Association, Ms. Asaro and Ms Riccobono, decided to raise money for the Samira Ahmed Scholarship Fund. With this one event, students and faculty contributed almost $500 in honor of their classmate.

Additionally, in collaboration with the Archdiocesan Athletic Association, Ms. Asaro has created the Samira Ahmed Junior Varsity Sportsmanship Award. The first recipient of this award is Melissa Balais ’10 from Preston High School. This award will be given out every year to a Bronx/Westchester all around athlete for demonstrating dedication to their team and to their academics.

Samira’s jersey remains on display in the front of the school gymnasium for all to remember that #3 played with heart and her spirit of loyalty, courtesy and courage – the same values sown in the blazer of every MSU student – lives on.

For more information on the school, visit

More from Around NYC