DIWANIYAH, Iraq- Only blocks away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Diwaniyah, a narrow dirt road leads to a small courtyard surrounded by tall trees and green, flowered plants. Inside the courtyard four old, windowless buildings with cracked paint and sagging rooflines sit in the morning sun.

Despite the appearance of these old buildings, the excited shouts of hundreds of little girls reciting their daily lessons could be heard above the noises of the nearby city streets. Unbeknownst to the students this day, a special gift would be unveiled making their learning experiences a little more comfortable.

Marked by a ribbon-cutting Thursday, the Diwaniyah Provincial Reconstruction Team in partnership with Troop L, 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment gave four newly constructed portable classrooms to the Sudayr Maisalon and As Safaat Girls Primary School.

"Educational projects like these help foster stability and sovereignty for future generations of Iraqi people," said Samuel Watson, senior governance advisor of the Diwaniyah PRT.

Each of the new buildings measure 16 feet by 22 feet and are equipped with desks, chairs and chalk boards. Hot summer days will be a little cooler thanks to ceiling fans and air conditioners, which are also part of each new building.

The school's expansion project began in July when the PRT carefully planned it so its construction would coincide with the beginning of the new school season. The cost of the program was $74,980.

An essential piece of these projects are the U.S. military personnel who fulfill the escort and security requirements for the PRT. The troopers work selflessly to ensure the success of the PRT and that of the Iraqi people.

"Our primary role is to enable the PRT," said 1st Lt. Daniel R. Hutson, a platoon leader with Troop L from Draper, Utah. "These events really wouldn't be possible if we couldn't bring the PRT out here."

Hutson and his platoon ensured the security of the area around the school so the ceremony could go on without interruption.

As girls from each classroom were brought out and lined single-file, a ribbon was stretched out in front of the new classrooms. The girls watched as the head mistress cut the ribbon and the new buildings became the next page in the children's future. In addition to the classrooms, the girls also received boxes of school books, which were handed out by Soldiers of Troop L.

"It really makes me feel good inside to be able to give this to the Iraqi children," said Pvt. Christopher Reyes, a cavalry scout from Marion, Texas.

"I like being a part of the good things you don't see every day on television," said Hutson, "(like) the things we're doing for the children."

As the ceremony wrapped up and morning became afternoon, the girls hurried back to their classrooms to continue the day's instruction. The new buildings stood as a testament of the day's achievement and a new page in the school's history. A day marked by positive relationships and the smiles on children's faces.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16