By virtually every measure, Massachusetts schools lead the United States. Both public schools, and the commonwealth’s well-respected network of private academies, are renowned for their longevity, since Horace Mann founded public education in the USA in the 19th Century—in Massachusetts. It has been only lately that Al-Noor Academy burst on that scene, establishing for itself a niche unique in the annals of the state.

We are the only secondary (grades 6-12) school conducted on Islamic principles in the New England area.

Not only do students follow a rigid curriculum based on Massachusetts’ Frameworks; we also offer Arabic, Quran, and Islamic Sciences as core subjects. Moreover, our Dual Enrollment program allows our qualifying graduates to amass up to half their undergraduate college credits before leaving ANA. More on which anon.

Founded in 2000 in Quincy, ANA moved to its present home a few years later. Since then, we have been in a constant state of improvement, in every way. We took a significant step in 2010, with accreditation by the New England Association of Secondary Schools (NEASC.)

The entire building has had a facelift, from paint and plaster through gutters and drains, electrical wiring, a state-of-the-art science lab, surveillance and security system, expanded classrooms, new student and teacher desks, and another jewel, to the delight of teachers: high-tech “smart boards” in every classroom, affording virtually limitless audio visual versatility. These improvements have been accompanied by an expanded faculty, and we are delighted to say we were recently vetted by authorities for the acceptance of international students. This bodes well, especially for students from the Middle East, as most of our students, while speaking excellent English, speak functional Arabic.

All of our faculty—which includes two scholars—are highly qualified teachers, some with Master’s and PhD degrees.

Two computer labs have been added, they are being used for computer classes, the study and recitation of Quran, science virtual labs, English, exams taking and more.

What was once a parking lot is transformed into an outdoor physical education area, complementing our indoor fitness room. The blacktop is lined for football (“soccer” in the American lexicon) and basketball, and used very nearly year-round by our hardy and enthusiastic youth.

Al-Noor Academy augments its regular classroom studies in a number of ways not seen in other traditional Western secondary schools. They include Qiyam for young brothers and a Sisters Halqa, which in turn enhance a carefully planned program of Character Building. Recently, we have enhanced our Dual Enrollment counseling, boosting the ability of our graduates to successfully apply to prestigious colleges—a program already bearing fruit. Events such as our Science Fair, Humanities Fair, Arabic Fair, and Muslim Rising Dawn focus attention on a combination of academic skills, while at the same time forging an understanding of student heritage. Literature Night focuses on facility in standard American English. While it’s a busy agenda, there is always time for fun, such as field trips and charity events like Colors Day, when students pay a nominal fee to depart from our usually strict black-blue-khaki (boys)-white dress code. Those events are planned and overseen by our active and involved Student Council.

Over the years, the school developed many activities and events. We sponsor Quran competitions, as well as Tajweed and Nasheed. Several festivals celebrate academic, Islamic and Arabic achievements, and we enjoy frequent field trips to discover the historical, cultural, and intellectual treasures which abound in Greater Boston and Southern New England. We also enjoy close relationships with several of Boston’s many premier-tier universes.

Religion is never far away at Al-Noor, and significant work was completed in our masjid, or mosque. A new carpet spans the broad reaches of the chamber, its pattern serving as a guide for the congregation to face Mecca as 1.7 billion Muslims are obligated in their five-times-daily prayers. The Al-Noor masjid serves not only the school, but the local Islamic community.

Finally, there is our Dual Enrollment program. Almost unique, Dual Enrollment finds our qualifying juniors and seniors enrolled in regular classes at area colleges three days a week, mean we attending Al-Noor’s campus two days to maintain their Quran, Arabic, and Religion studies. Thus, it is possible for an ANA graduate to depart with fully half their undergraduate college credits behind them, for significant savings in both time and money. It has the additional benefit of connecting students with the rhythms of college life, and the connections that accrue.