The Islamic Society of Wichita's school isn't too different from many other schools in one respect, says principal Karim Jibril.
Parents want their kids "preparing for the IB program," Jibril said, referring to the highly competitive International Baccalaureate program at East High School. "That's what everyone says."
The school is like others in its shortage of space, too, which is why the Islamic Society is building a new school at its center at K-96 and Woodlawn. Construction of the 18,000-square-foot building started earlier this summer. When finished, it will contain 16 classrooms, two science labs, a teachers' lounge and more.
The Annoor Islamic School is the only one in Wichita to offer an Islamic elementary and middle school education, which, in addition to classes like math and science, includes courses in the Koran, Arabic language and Islamic culture. The society would like to offer a high school education in the future.
Started in 1996, the school had about 100 students last year. As the quality of the education it offers has improved, more parents have wanted to send their children there, said Ayesha Zaheer-Chaudry, the society's director of communications.
The new building will also free up space for the society's other activities. In addition to a mosque for prayer, the society serves as a community center for Muslims. For instance, during the month of Ramadan, when people fast during the day, dinners are held in the center's gymnasium. "We break fast, and we pray together," Zaheer-Chaudry said.
The society also needs space for a library, offices, meeting rooms and its community outreach program, which invites schools, religious groups and other organizations to visit.
The new school will look like the society's other buildings, with tan siding and a green peaked roof. Zaheer-Chaudry said society members were excited "when the steel started to go up," but completion and occupation dates depend on when the society can raise the $1.3 million needed.
The society started construction to take advantage of the weather. The outer shell is expected to be finished this year.
"We actually feel proud to be building while the economy is down," said Hussam Madi, a member of the society's board of administration.
"The building shows some hope," finance director Muhammed Awad added.