Carl Manalo,

current Principal of Khalil Gibran International Academy, the city’s first public Arabic-language school.

A new state of the art building for Khalil Gibran International Academy will be a central element of the Alloy Block. Today, the school is housed in an aging 19th century structure that’s not suitable for contemporary school use.

What will this new facility mean for your students?

We have a student population that’s had to shift around to different buildings, and that doesn’t really feel like a school. This is an extremely diverse student population, many come from families seeking asylum. For them to get a new facility like this is really a celebration of them, an investment in them. The idea that one of the city’s most vulnerable populations us getting a commitment like this is just incredible.

What can this new facility do for the Alloy Block project as a whole?

To me, a school should always be a beating heart of a neighborhood. Show me good schools and I’ll show you a good neighborhood. I saw this firsthand in Far Rockaway at a former job. To have this building, the kids coming here every day feeling good about themselves, will be a benefit for the entire block, and for the whole immediate area really.

Did the site’s demolition impact your students at all?

No. The construction team and Alloy were extremely responsive, they even went so far as to schedule demolition around our testing periods. This was really encouraging for us and left us feeling like we’re in good hands for the upcoming construction.

What excites you most about the new facility?

I mean, it’s hard to pick just one thing. One thing we’ve really lacked are communal gathering spaces, places for us to come together. So I’m really looking forward to the new auditorium, library and gym. At the same time, I’m really just excited by the collaborative attention to design detail, down to even the small items, like the artwork in the lobby. We worked with Alloy to select it. Finally, I would say that just to have this new school right at, really, the crossroads of the borough is pretty amazing. It’ll do so much for these kids’ sense of pride. I’m just excited to be part of it.