Paint-smudged hands pressed clay tiles onto plywood this week as students at the Islamic School of Greater Toledo assembled mosaics that will be their lasting mark on the growing school.
Students from kindergarten through seventh grade worked in groups over the last few weeks to create tiles that will combine to form a large mosaic. It will be displayed permanently inside the school at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg Township.
"We wanted to do something creative so the kids have the sense of belonging to the school and the center," Asfia Sadat, interim principal, said.
The project is especially meaningful for seventh graders, who are the oldest students at the school. The school has added a grade level each year since it started four years ago, but it is undecided whether it will add an eighth grade next school year.
One group of seventh graders made single-color tiles with abstract designs etched around their names in the clay.
"We put our names on it so people will see that we're the ones who did it," Rami Harb of Sylvania said. "Everybody can recognize us forever."
The school, which offers a standard curriculum and classes in Islamic religion and the Arabic language, partners with the Arts Council Lake Erie West to run weekly art sessions. Martin Nagy, executive director of the arts council, came up with the idea of doing a mosaic.
Students painted pictures on their tiles with colored glazes. Fatima Jaber, a fourth grader from Toledo, worked with her friends to make a four-tile design with decorative hearts and different kinds of flowers.
One group of students made a likeness of the Islamic Center with its towering minarets, while third grader Aisha Deme of Bowling Green drew scenes from a faraway continent.
"This is in Africa," she said, pointing to her tiles. "It has a waterfall, and here's a giraffe, and over here is an elephant."
The Islamic school has about 50 students, beginning with pre-kindergarten. The school, which began with just seven students, has expanded steadily each year with new students from all over northwest Ohio.
Funding for the school is mainly provided by tuition fees, Ms. Sadat said. The fee is $2,700 annually for each student.
Ms. Sadat said she is resisting the urge to peek at the students' finished tiles because she wants to be surprised by the mosaic when it is complete.
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