RCMS accommodates students that celebrate Ramadan

The library is where many students go during lunch during Ramadan

Abelina Ashby

The library is where many students go during lunch during Ramadan

As the lunch bell roars through the school, hoards of hungry students rush out their classrooms, into the formerly empty hallways. Clamoring to the cafeteria, a minority of students instead make their way to the library, a place for those who prefer the peacefulness of the library, and those who are fasting during Ramadan.

RCMS accommodates students celebrating Ramadan in a variety of ways.

“Students can go to the library during lunch, and use the school prayer room during breaks,” said Mr. Kirk Treakle, head librarian at RCMS. 

Ramadan is a 29- to 30-day-long holiday celebrated by Islamic people. It begins with the appearance of the crescent moon. It consists of giving up food, water, music, and more during daylight hours. The holiday means a lot to Muslim students and their families, and they have sacred reasons for celebrating it.

“To me, it’s recognizing the hardships of impoverished people, and what a lack of food really feels like, and experiencing that realistically, and because of that, you have a greater appreciation for it,” said Zoeb Izzi, an eighth-grader on the Explorers team.

The RCMS library, an important accommodation for RCMS students during lunch, is open for students that celebrate it so they don’t have to watch others eating.

“I think it’s a good option to have, because sometimes I want to go to the cafeteria to talk to my friends for a bit, and when I go to the library, it’s peaceful and I can relax, since it’s hard to fast when there’s a lot of food around,” said Zoeb. “It doesn’t bother me particularly if somebody is eating in front of me, unless they’re waving it in my face.”

There are many students that like to use the cafeteria during Ramadan.

“There are about eight people who come in every lunch, I’d say it’s grown over the years,” said Mr. Treakle. “There are students who come in for sensory issues as well, so the students who are celebrating Ramadan have to be quiet while they stay in the library.”

Zoeb also describes his experience at the library “I play chess with my friends, I read a book, I do some homework.” 

Some students don’t just spend lunch in the library just during Ramadan.

“I go to the library during lunch every day. I think it’s better, there is no cursing, no yelling, it’s very peaceful.” says Hussein Osman, a seventh-grader at RCMS. “I sit down on my laptop or read books.”

A prayer room is another accommodation that RCMS has added for religious students who would like to pray during school hours. 

“I go to the prayer room every day during lunch. There’s a teacher there but they leave when we need to pray. I usually take five minutes and then leave,” Mariam Abdilaziz Abdi, a seventh-grader on Discovery says.

Zoeb said that he would recommend other accommodations during Ramadan.

“I feel like there should be a different prayer room for women and men, and for different religions, and for different ages, since each religion has different standards for praying,” Zoeb said.

Students who celebrate Ramadan and are Muslim usually pray five times a day, at different times. Sometimes these times are during classes, but Muslim students are not allowed to leave classes to use the prayer room during instructional periods.

”Students can’t leave class to pray at any time, because the FCPS regulations say you can only use the prayer room during breaks, like lunch, panther time and in between classes.” says Mr. Treakle. “I think it’s flexible and I think they do it just right, but it is sometimes communicated roughly, and some people (teachers) perhaps aren’t aware, so sometimes there’s been confusion about how and when they can use it.” 

The prayer room didn’t have many accommodations until later in the year, which caused issues with students trying to use it during school.

“Sometimes we’re late to class, because they change rooms so often,” Mariam says.

“I think they should incorporate a break in the day for students who want to pray during school, or a pass,” Hussein adds, “I think it’s weird how often they change the prayer room, and how difficult it is to look for it. For a while, it wasn’t there on e-hall pass”

Though there are difficulties throughout Ramadan, Hussein expresses his final thoughts about Ramadan.

“Ramadan is a beautiful thing, it’s not just religion, it’s also practical. When you fast for 30 days, it develops habits, and has a lot of health benefits. Your body starts cleansing, and by the time it’s over, your body is cleansed, not just emotionally, but scientifically.”