YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea — Garrison and school officials today officially opened a new classroom building designed to make room for additional students as a result of increased command sponsorship to Korea.

"This is exactly what we need to absorb the increase in population," U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan Commander Col. Dave Hall said to students, teachers, parents and officials who attended the building's ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The 7,900-square-foot building signifies the beginning of the military allowing more families in Korea. Earlier this year, U.S. Forces Korea started a plan to increase command sponsorship of families to Korea, slowly increasing the percentage of Soldiers allowed to bring their families to 20 percent.

Yongsan's additional 150 students are mainly elementary and middle school children. The new building's six classrooms - each 900 square feet - will accommodate about 170 Department of Defense Dependent Schools students.

Mostly eighth-graders will use the new classroom building, which was built on the parking lot in front of the Seoul American High School Falcon Gym, just a few minutes walk from the middle school's main campus.

"This is an amazing facility; we're excited," said Darrell Mood, Seoul American Middle School principal. "We have our eighth grade up here, which is what needs to be here because they will transition to the high school."

Garrison and school officials were pleased that it was completed before school starts Monday. The $600,000 project started in April.

"This was one of the hardest projects that I think we had to deal with because of limited time and limited funds," said John Ghim, acting Garrison Public Works director. "We were initially told that there wasn't enough time. We took the challenge to do the work with our in-house workforce and with the contractor."

Hall thanked officials from DODDS, DPW, the contractor, and others for working together to finish the building in time for school.

"This is indeed a great honor for Namwha to dedicate this project," said Namwha Construction Co. President Oh Sung-shick. "Today we are here to open the doors to this classroom facility and to show that the alliance between our two great nations is stronger today than ever before."

One middle school teacher, Patricia Bryn, said she "loves" her new classroom. "I think for the first time in four years, I've been able to get so many posters on the walls. If anything, I look at this as strategically placed, because next year, these kids know they are going into high school. Now it's only a few feet away."