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Choosing a picture to represent an American Islamic school

John Brecher / msnbc.com

Students discuss a poem by Maya Angelou in teacher Fatima Quadri's literature class at MCC Full Time School in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove, Illinois.

John Brecher / msnbc.com

Students in a special "Hafiz" program work on memorizing the entire Quran at MCC Full Time School in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove, Ill.

John Brecher writes: Msnbc.com's Kari Huus and I recently visited an Islamic school in suburban Chicago, producing this video and story. Most of the students in the school, like the girls in the top picture, have a standard curriculum as well as classes about the Quran and Islamic history. A couple dozen students attend a special class in which they memorize the entire Quran. According to the school's principal, that's 114 chapters - more than six thousand verses.

That's quite an undertaking, to memorize an entire book, and it's a notable activity that distinguishes this school from a public school. That said, it's only taken on by a couple dozen out of the school's several hundred students, so I didn't think it represented the school as a whole. For the cover of the site, then, I considered images like the first one above: students working through the secular curriculum while wearing hijabs. The second image ran inside the text of the story.