Classroom becomes prayer room
School provides a place for students to pray, minimizing time away
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At many public schools, religion isn’t talked about openly.
But here on campus, there’s a room dedicated to the religious needs of some students.
Every day during lunches, room C112 is utilized as a prayer room.
While most religions do not dictate specific times to pray, Islam is different in this regard.
“By praying five times a day, which includes movements such as bowing and prostrating where you actually place your forehead and the tip of your nose on to the floor and also facing a specific direction, not only shows uniformity, in terms of how Muslims pray together and come together for that purpose,” Islamic Association of Collin County Youth Director Ryan Hilliard said. “But even more importantly it shows that they’re willing to put their entire body and their entire mind and their soul into this act and be able to focus on that moment where they’re able to have this conversation with God, when in many other places they would not be able to do so.”
The campus prayer room has been available for students since 2009.
“This is my seventh year at Liberty, my first year it kind of started when a core group of students were leaving campus every Friday for Friday prayer,” Principal Scott Warstler said. “Their parents would come pick them up, so they may miss an hour and a half to two hours to two and a half hours of school every Friday, so I met with those students and a couple of their parents and suggested if they would be okay if the students were able to lead the prayer at school as a group, and we gave them a space to do that so they didn’t have to be in a car traveling thirty minutes each way on a Friday missing an hour, hour and a half, of class.”
It started with a small group of students in one of the AP conference rooms, but as more and more students got involved, it was moved to a classroom.
“I think the trademark of what makes Liberty High so great is our diversity and in how our students respond to the different cultures and diversity on campus,” Warstler said. “Like I’ve said, this is the seventh year that we’ve been doing this and we’ve never had one issue. You know we have other religious student groups that meet maybe before school or maybe after school. As long as it’s student-led, where the students are organizing and running it, we pretty much as a school stay out of that and allow them their freedom to practice their religion.”
The prayer room allows students to miss less school as a result of being able to pray on campus.
“It gives us a way to pray in a classroom and then go straight back to class,” junior Sarah Qureshi said. “It takes five minutes instead of having to leave school, get in the car, and go with my parents to the actual masjid and then coming back. When I first found out I was really shocked. I think it was a really great opportunity and I was pretty happy for it that we actually get to have this choice to go and to do what we have to do.”
Reporting for Wingspan TV, I’m Marisa Uddin.