BAGHDAD - Soldiers from Troop A, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and members of the Salhiyah Neighborhood Advisory Council were on hand at the Omar Muktar Boys' School Oct. 4, to take part in the grand opening of their most recent project.

Over the past several months, the citizens of Salhiyah have seen three schools in their community completely renovated and reopened for the upcoming school year thanks to the partnership between 4-9 Cav. and their NAC.

"We work very closely with the NAC council," explained Troop A commander, Capt. Joseph Guzowski. "It's been a great relationship."

Work on the boys' school, which serves 1,000 secondary and high school-aged students, began in August and involved a complete overhaul of the building and school grounds.

"The school was thrashed before - windows broken, garbage everywhere, classrooms in disarray, not painted, ceilings corroded," Guzowski, who is originally from Buffalo, N.Y., said.

The piles of garbage were removed and broken windows were replaced. The interior and exterior of the school was repainted, new desks and blackboards were provided, and a computer lab was added. Repairs were also made to the plumbing, and lights and air conditioning units were installed throughout the school.

"It looks 100 percent better than what it did before, and it gives the kids a good environment to learn in," Guzowski said.

According to Ali Najim Abdullah, the contractor who oversaw the renovation of the school, the project not only provides the students an ideal learning environment, but it also provided much needed work to members of the Salhiyah community.

Abdullah said that everyone he hired for the renovation of the school was from the local community, and that he would typically have up to 30 people a day working on the school.

"It is a good feeling to be able to help out this community," he said.

The students are scheduled to return for classes Oct. 7 and the school's director, Sami Gamel, is expecting a positive response from them when they see their new school for the first time. He said the renovations have already generated a lot of excitement from the teachers, who are already back and making preparations for the return of their students, and they are looking forward to the upcoming school year.

"If you've got a better place to learn, you're going to want to go to that school rather than do whatever out in the streets," Guzowski said. "It fosters a better learning environment for all the kids."

Page last updated Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 15:09