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Amana opens new middle school in Alpharetta

Part of large expansion project

Amana Academy formally opened its new middle school Nov. 14 with a ribbon cutting. JONATHAN COPSEY/Staff. (click for larger version)
November 20, 2013
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Amana Academy, an Alpharetta charter school, has completed an $8.5 million expansion of the school and is poised to expand further.

"This is a milestone for a startup charter school," Amana Executive Director Ehab Jaleel said.

The school raised $8.5 million through a bond program to build the middle school wing, which is the first phase of their building program. The next phases include building an elementary school wing and renovating the central "big box" section.

The new wing features 12 classrooms and two science labs as well as a multipurpose room.

The $5 million to $6 million needed for the next phases will be funded through private monies.

There are 720 students enrolled in the school. The student population is divided into four classes per grade and 24 kids per class.

Jaleel said that when the school initially wanted to expand, they tried to buy out their building from the landlord. When that did not work out, they went elsewhere.

"We looked at two dozen properties," Jaleel said.

That included one office complex on Windward Parkway that seemed to fit the bill. The city and nearby residents forced the school to look elsewhere. That search led them right back to the current building, a renovated grocery store in a strip mall shopping center.

"We came back here," Jaleel said. "That set the stage for us to focus on one thing."

The school took out the bond to expand and buy the entire property, which is a plus, he said, because the school is their home and, situated next to Wills Park, in a prime spot for education.

Using the bond money, the school bought the property and began expanding one wing of the school – which is the middle school.

Jaleel said the school and its board were especially careful about their expansion, coming hot on the heels of the failed expansion and subsequent revocation of the charter of the Fulton Science Academy. By working with the school system, Amana overcame the hurdles and succeeded.

Amana was started in 2005 and is unique in teaching its students Arabic, being one of the few public schools to do so. "Amana" means "stewardship" in Arabic.

"It's amazing what you can do with a grocery store when you put your mind and shoulder to it," said Ken Zeff, Fulton Schools' chief strategy and innovation officer, which oversees charter schools.

On hand for the ribbon cutting of the new wing were numerous local dignitaries, including Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle, Fulton Commission Chairman John Eaves and Sen. Brandon Beach.

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Tags: Education News & School Sports

  1. report print email
    Thank you from an Amana Parent
    November 21, 2013 | 07:55 AM

    In addition to the show of support from our elected officials, special thanks to Ken Zeff, Laura Stowell and Karol Stephens of Fulton County Schools, Al Nash and Bethany Usry of Progress Partners of North Fulton, Tony Roberts and Rena Youngblood of the GA Charter Schools Assoc., Amy Hudnall of the Center of Innovation for Aerospace, Kimberly Baker of Junior Achievement, Elizabeth Warland of Purgenix, Mary Ulich of the Lionheart School and for the overall support of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce.

    Craig Dean
  2. report print email
    Partners in Education
    November 21, 2013 | 10:08 AM

    Thank you Jonathan Copsey for posting, and Linda Cohen for reporting on this event. This is a milestone for Amana, and the local Alpharetta community. I love being part of Amana mainly because this means raising "globally minded citizen scholars." We now have a permanent home to foster community building and involvement; with farther reaching implications for global respect and understanding. Way to go crew!:)

    Sara Ead
  3. report print email
    Way to go Amana
    November 21, 2013 | 10:44 AM

    As a resident of Alpharetta I feel very fortunate to have a school like this. Amazing staff, quality education and awesome kids.Thanks to Jonathan Copsey and Linda Cohen for reporting on this event.

    Ahmed Khan
  4. report print email
    So proud of our community
    November 21, 2013 | 11:41 AM

    We have been an Amana family since Amana opened its doors and I cannot express how proud we are of this school and the community that it has created. It has been so wonderful to be witness to the growth and success of our school! Thank you for reporting on this significant milestone for Amana.

    Jessica El Aboudi
  5. report print email
    Congratulations, Amana staff and parents!
    November 21, 2013 | 01:56 PM

    Amana parents since it opened, Chiu Hea and I join in congratulating Amana's executive staff and parents for their patience, innovation and hard work toward this project's success!

    Mark Hills
  6. report print email
    Thank you for the article about Amana Academy
    November 21, 2013 | 05:24 PM

    I am so grateful that my grandsons have such an excellent school to attend as they learn and prepare for their future.

    Sue Dean
  7. report print email
    Great School
    November 21, 2013 | 08:03 PM

    This is a great school. My kids go there and I can't imagine sending them anywhere else. I hope they will start high school once my kids finish middle school.

    Abdullah Bokhari
  8. report print email
    Congrats Amana
    November 22, 2013 | 09:52 AM

    Thank you for reporting on Amana's expansion and keeping the community up to date about all the wonderful things taking place in North Fulton. The attendance of the Mayor and other elected officials was very much appreciated by the students, parents, and volunteers of Amana.

    Mulham Shbeib
  9. report print email
    Way to go expeditionary learning
    November 25, 2013 | 08:51 PM

    Thank you for reporting on Amana Academy. I am proud that my children have such a great opportunity to learn at an institution which promotes expeditionary learning. Each year the students get multiple chances to learn through field studies and other hands on learning activities. I hope they continue to grow and are there for the future generations of our country.

    Shirjeel Mirza
  10. report print email
    November 27, 2013 | 03:38 PM

    Way to go Amana, safe environment for the kids, quality education, and high morals.

  11. report print email
    Nice Going Amana
    November 28, 2013 | 11:36 PM

    Congratulations Amana!
    I guess the losers are those bigoted residents of Windward who ran a hateful campaign of maligning Amana and eventually forced the city to vote against the Amana Windward location.

    Sam Moore
  12. report print email
    The Amana Community reaches beyond the walls of the school
    December 01, 2013 | 10:12 AM

    Thank you Mayor Belle-Isle, Senator Beach, Chairman Eaves, Councilman Cross and so many business and government leaders for supporting the school.

    Stephanie Dean
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