By Army Pfc. Christopher McKenna
Special to American Forces Press Service
Iraq, Aug. 12, 2008 - The Uthman School in Mahmudiyah, Iraq, officially reopened Aug. 6 after extensive renovations. "I have spent 12 years working at this school, and this is by far the best condition it has ever been in," said Wahab Fadel, boys' manager for the Uthman School. "Other school managers are also very impressed, and many are looking to have renovations done to their schools now, as well."
Among the renovations were the raising and extension of the exterior perimeter walls, the addition of classrooms and rewiring of the electrical system.
"The classrooms used to be overcrowded, but now there are more; more children are going to be able to gain a proper education thanks to both expansion of classrooms and addition of new ones," Fadel said.
The project was initiated by the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team before the unit returned to the United States. In April, the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team took over the renovation project through Commander's Emergency Response Program funding.
"Work began in April during Operation Marne Piledriver and was officially completed today," said Army 1st Lt. Jason Potter, civil-military operations officer assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's Battery A, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. "The contractor both met and exceeded the scope of work for the project."
Potter said the renovations have made the Uthman School one of the best-looking schools in the Mahmudiyah area.
Students will enjoy the newly renovated school Sept. 15, when the school opens for a new year. Many students attended the opening ceremony to receive school supplies.
"Having a better school gives the students a sense of pride in their education," Potter said. "The students see that we are doing something good for them, and they will hopefully embrace positive things."
(Army Pfc. Christopher McKenna serves with the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)