Elham Ayyoubi tried to enroll her three children in public school, but the youngsters protested, thinking their Muslim faith would bring unwanted attention.

“They told me if they go to public school, they would not fast during Ramadan,” said Ayyoubi, 44.

For her and other Muslim parents, the Muslim Academy of Greater Orlando in the Lake Buena Vista area “is a dream come true,” Ayyoubi said. “My children feel comfortable here.”

The private school — offering pre-kindergarten through eighth grade — has a new $2.5 million building, which opened last Thursday.

Now, Ayyoubi’s kids — ages 8, 11 and 12 — don’t have to sit in isolation during lunch, watching other students enjoy their meals during Islam’s most holy month, which ends in two weeks.

Her two daughters can wear white head scarves without feeling different. The children are reading Arabic and learning about Muslims who have contributed to society.

Students have moved out of the portable buildings that used to house the school into the new two-story facility. At 1:45 p.m. each day, students and teachers walk across the parking lot to the mosque next door for prayer. Meals in the cafeteria cater to the Muslim diet and contain no pork. Students spend about two hours a day on Islamic studies and Arabic language.

“Many community members and parents worked very hard for so many years for this school,” said Rafeena Khan, a parent. (MORE)


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