By Hanna Rahman –
The Arizona Cultural Academy, an accredited Islamic school located in Phoenix, held a groundbreaking ceremony May 1 to mark the beginning of its expansion project. Over the past few years ACA has outgrown its facilities. When the school was built, the board members of ACA made a promise that no elementary class, grades 1 through 4, would have more than 25 students. There are now about 30 kids per grade.
Small class sizes help provide a more comfortable learning environment for students. “We have a rigorous +1 curricula that meets state standards, NCA-AdvancED accreditation and allows ACA to teach college courses in our high school, leading to earning an associate’s degree while in high school,” said Salaheddine Tomeh, the board chairman of ACA.
The school started with only 80 students in 2000. It now has 350 students, 65 staff members, and eight students who have successfully memorized the Qur’an. With the expansion, school officials hope to be able to open it up to more students.
Tomeh believes that the parents and community will also benefit from this expansion. “We already have a waiting list pending completion of the project. Mentoring future community leaders must be high priority for the community,” said Tomeh.
The new two-story building will be located behind the gym on the space that is currently a basketball court. “We will have five new spacious classrooms and a state-of-the-art library, accommodating a more comfortable learning environment, and enrolling those on the waiting list to ACA,” said Tomeh.
ACA has already begun construction and hopes to finish by October 4, 2015. The project is expected to cost around $860,000. Initially, it was expected to cost $500,000, but the budget was increased to accommodate additional classrooms. The school hopes to reach the fundraising goal by the end of Ramadan this year.
ACA is an accredited Islamic school, teaching students from Early Montessori (ages 1-3) to twelfth grade. ACA students have proceeded to top-tier universities. Johns Hopkins University honored ACA with the “Top School” award in the 2009 city talent search and named it a Center for Talented Youth. Since 2010, the students of ACA have scored in the top 20% on national standardized exams.