New Islamic School to be Built in California

November 19, 2000

Source: Los Angeles Times

On November 19, 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported that "for Samar Aziz, the road to providing her sons with an Islamic-based education is 76 miles long and full of gridlock. 'It's a killer,' she said of the drive between her Tustin home and the private Islamic school in West Covina where her boys, ages 4 and 5, are taught not only to read and write--but also what it means to be a Muslim. 'It's hard. It takes a toll on the family.' Aziz has prayed for relief, and on Saturday, in a field of dirt and rocks in Irvine, her prayers were answered. Ground was broken for an Islamic elementary school that will serve Orange County's booming Muslim community. The New Horizon School off Jeffrey Road will be the Islamic Center of Southern California's fourth campus and its first in Orange County. The $ 4-million project, which will serve 180 students from preschool through sixth grade, has been years in the making and is among a growing number of Islamic schools nationwide...An attempt last year to build the school in Rancho Santa Margarita was resisted by homeowners who worried about increased traffic. It also led to two anonymous hate calls to school backers. Irvine officials, however, embraced the plan along with the building of a mosque and Islamic community center next door...The number of Muslims in Orange County has doubled in the past decade to 200,000, Islamic Center Chairman Magdy Eletreby estimated. An Islamic school in Garden Grove run by another organization is full, and Eletreby expects there will be a waiting list at New Horizon's campus when it opens next fall. For $ 6,000 a year, New Horizon students will take classes in Arabic and Islamic studies. Even basics such as math and science will be taught with a cultural subtext...The weaving of academics and religion appeals to parents such as Maya Ascha, who plans to move her 8-year-old son, Omar, to New Horizon from the Montessori school he now attends. 'The education at Montessori is very good,' Ascha said. 'But it's missing something. I don't want my son to forget who he is.'...For Aziz, the problems at another private school began when her oldest son, Zak, was laughed at by classmates when he said grace before lunch. Embarrassed, Zak stopped saying his prayers at school. Then he refused to speak Arabic to his mother in front of other students."