Sunday, April 09, 2006

Muslim school already expanding
MERRILLVILLE: Plans in place for 7,000-square-foot addition
BY DEBORAH LAVERTYdlaverty@nwitimes.com219.662.5324
This story ran on on Friday, April 7, 2006 12:48 AM CDT

MERRILLVILLE Less than two years after its opening, a school attuned to the religious and academic needs of the area's Muslim community is expanding.The 7,000-square-foot addition to Avicenna Academy, 9803 Colorado St., will include space for at least three more classrooms, a conference room, a library/book store, administration office and storage areas.
The school is located next to the Northwest Indiana Islamic Center and mosque, where the youngsters can go for daily prayers and religious services.It is the only school in the area offering Islamic instruction and the Arabic language to its students. Emphasis is placed on a high standard of excellence in academics, Assistant Director Nuha Rifai said.When the school opened in the fall of 2004, there were 19 students enrolled in preschool through second grade.Now there are 41 students from throughout Lake and Porter counties who attend.Third and fourth grades were added this year, and plans are to continue adding a grade each year until the school includes eight grades, Rifai said.Fifth-grade classes will be added this fall, when at least a portion of the expanded area will be completed, she said.If additional space is needed in the future, there is acreage to the east for building or there is the possibility of adding a second level, she said.The general contractor is Ali Rashad and the architect of record is Tom Kuhn, of Carras-Szany-Kuhn & Associates in Schererville.The emphasis will be on fundraising to pay for the new addition at the prayer service and groundbreaking today, and the annual gala dinner dance at 6 p.m. Saturday, Rifai said."We're hoping to motivate people to donate for the school expansion," she said. "We want to collect at least half of the $900,000."There are a number of ways members of the mosque, parents, grandparents and members of the community can support the school, she said.Engraved bricks, with the donor's name printed on them, can be purchased for a price ranging from $500 for a smaller version to $1,000 for a larger one.

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