By Army Staff Sgt. Peter Ford
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 10, 2009 - School officials and students took part in a ceremony at Michal al-Hurria, a small school in the Abu Ghraib district here, to honor the hard work of coalition forces who were instrumental in renovating the school. "The building was constructed in 1970 and has not received any repairs or upgrades since its opening," a spokesman for the school principal said.
The pipes were leaky and the wires were frayed, the spokesman said, but hopes for the renovation remained.
"Teachers have tried for many years to get the school repaired, and many have made promises, but none have kept their word but the [coalition forces]," the spokesman said.
Standing in front of the school, the principal's spokesman thanked the coalition forces and said they demonstrated dedication and put it into action. The school's needs were tremendous, he added, and the coalition forces delivered.
"The school was in pretty bad shape," said Army Capt. Jackie Manton, a native of Baton Rouge, La., and officer in charge of the 225th Engineer Brigade's Task Force Iron Paxton. "Some of the things replaced were sewer pipes, broken windows, water pumps, water coolers, electrical sockets and switches. Generators and window-type air conditioners were also added."
The principal's spokesman said the school never had witnessed a renovation program. The renovation has made the staff and students very happy, he added, and they owe their deepest gratitude to all those involved in the process.
"The renovation of the school has motivated us and given us the confidence to keep it up," one teacher said.
Although a majority of the renovations have been completed, a few things still need to be done, such as adding a playground for the kids. "When the 225th Engineer Brigade's name is put on something," Manton said, "we want to make sure it is done right."
(Army Staff Sgt. Peter Ford serves in the Multinational Division Baghdad public affairs office.)