BAGHDAD - Over the past eight months Soldiers of the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad have partnered with the Iraqi Ministry of Education (MoE) to further educational opportunities for the children of Baghdad.

A recent event designed to do just that highlighted each organization's commitment to not only the children of Baghdad but specifically to young Iraqi females who have an interest in fine arts.

The Baghdad School of Arts for Girls celebrated a renovation ceremony June 23 in the Mansour district, which was made possible by efforts of Dagger Soldiers and the MoE.

"Today's event is under the slogan art can talk," said Kareema Hashim, head mistress of the school of art for girls. "We look forward to the increased production of the students, thanks to the generosity of our friends in supporting this art school."

According to Hashim the school opened its doors in 1935 and has graduated many famous Iraqi artists over the years.

In recent years the degraded security led to the school not being able to maintain operations. During this time, the equipment the students used was either outdated or unserviceable.

After discovering the school in their area of operations, Soldiers from the 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd HBCT, kick-started an effort with support from the Ministry of Education to provide the school with much needed equipment to help further the art students' talents.

With help from Dr. Nihad Abbas Shihad al-Juburi, the deputy Minister of Education, a contract was established to provide the students with the tools they need to develop their abilities.

"Through projects like this Dr. Nihad is fulfilling his vision for educating Iraq's young women in the best possible artistic techniques," said Lt. Col. Christopher Beckert, a Madison, Conn., native, deputy commander, 2nd HBCT. "I wish all of you the best of luck in the coming school year using the equipment in the great institute and I ask that you accept it as a gift from the American people."

The chance to refurbish the school was made possible by the improved security in the area.

For the contractor who performed the upgrades the situation has seen a marked improvement since he began working with Coalition forces.

"I have worked with the American Army for four years; I have worked over 50 contracts and through many difficult times," said Dr. Abbas al-Maliki. "Thanks to security improvements made by the presence of the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police and the Sons of Iraq, the neighborhood is no longer safe for the enemies of Iraq."

With a learning environment safe from the worries of external dangers it is the hope of the Dagger Brigade and the MoE that the school can help foster an artistic renaissance in Baghdad with the assistance of the faculty and staff of the school.

"I thank the teachers and the professors here at the institute for their dedication and their love of the arts and for transferring that love of art to their students," said Beckert.