By Spc. Karla P. Elliott, 11th PADFebruary 1, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, Iraq - As the security situation in Iraq continues to improve, the number of infrastructure projects around Kirkuk Province are on the rise.
On Jan. 12, local village leaders, Sons of Iraq members, the school head master, teachers and future students, along with U.S. Forces, celebrated one of them - the grand opening of a new elementary school in Atshiyana village.
Overall, the ceremony was a great success according to Hawijah council representative Amar Ali Al Hamdany. "Without a school, how can you educate yourself'" he asked. "We now have 240 students who can look forward to a better future because of this school," he continued.
Throughout the day of the ceremony, Sons of Iraq members distributed goods for the school and children. They passed out more than 400 pencils, 75 notebooks and 100 T-shirts.
U.S. Civil Affairs Soldiers joined the locals in the celebration. Having followed the project for more than three months, one Soldier expressed his joy for the newly opened school.
"I've been checking on the progress of this project since October," said Spc. Christopher Loflin, with Detachment 1, B Co., 490th Civil Affairs Battalion. "I'm glad to finally see that the children now have a place to learn and grow in an Iraqi community."
In the past two months, the province of Kirkuk has celebrated the opening of four brand new schools and renovated three others.
This school construction, a project under the Iraqi Commander's Emergency Relief Program, is part of many efforts to come for rebuilding and expanding the education system all around the area.
Although there are many school projects taking place around the province, this school is unique in the region because of where it was built.
"The school lies on the fault line between two sub-districts," said 1st Lt. John Flanagan, platoon leader with D Company, 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, attached to 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. "So it was good to see Hawijah council members working well with the Multaka Sons of Iraq to open this school," continued Flanagan, a native of Harrisburg, Pa.
A total of nine schools, a combination of new construction and renovation projects, are slated to open in the next few months.