For years, students at Al-Amal School in Fridley had to use science labs at a school across the street. Some teachers had to teach out of carts instead of classrooms. Parents worried that the quality of high school education would suffer under such circumstances.

This year, all of that will be different. A 21,000-square-foot expansion at the state’s only full-time, preschool-to-12th-grade Islamic school will give middle and high school students a new computer lab, chemistry and physics labs, brand new laptops and footbaths in the bathrooms.

“Parents want the best for their kids,” said school board member and parent Zafar Siddiqui. “We don’t just focus on the religious aspect. We want them to excel in everything.”

Teachers, parents and staff were worried that without an updated building, Al-Amal would have a hard time retaining students as they entered higher grades. Students had to use labs at Totino-Grace High School, and 11th and 12th graders had to enroll in some college classes, such as chemistry, that Al-Amal couldn’t offer. For the time being, 11th and 12th graders will still take some of their credits through colleges, but school officials are hoping the expansion will eventually allow them to keep all their students in the building.

Nestled up against a pond and wetlands, Al-Amal’s expansion glistens with the shine of new floors and lockers. The addition consists of a wide hallway with a central office, meeting rooms, nine classrooms and three labs. (MORE)


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