Sadr City, Iraq - Ancient Rome's greatest orator Marcus Tullius Cicero once said, "What greater or better gift can we offer the republic than to teach and instruct our youth'"

More than 500 elementary school students in Mahalla neighborhood in Sadr City were recently given the gift of a better educational environment following the completion of the 12-room Al Adalaa Elementary School.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region District, Loyalty Resident Office served as the managing construction partner for the 11-month, $816,000 project. The school was funded through the Iraq Transition Assistance Office (ITAO) Economic Support Fund.

The school project included the construction of a two-story classroom building, an administration building and a playground. The administration building contains office spaces, a first-aid room and a food service area. The site also included the construction of a three-meter high security wall surrounding the school, a guard house with a steel entry gate and a maintenance building.

Inez Bergerson, the Loyalty Office project engineer, says the Sadr City school project posed some unique challenges for project engineers. "Because this school is located in Sadr City, where violence can be expected at any time, our office managed the construction by relying heavily on our local national engineers for updates and quality assurance," Bergerson said.

"Of all the projects I have had the pleasure of working on while in Iraq, schools remain my favorite," according to Bergerson. "A new school can provide the opportunity for hundreds of children who have so little to receive a quality education, become productive citizens and share in the growth of this emerging country."

The Iraqi owned Al Sald Company was the general contractor for the school construction project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq has completed thousands of reconstruction projects in partnership with the U.S. Government and the Government of Iraq. Since 2004, USACE has completed 5,257 projects throughout Iraq valued at more than $9.1 billion, and has more than 350 projects ongoing. The overall reconstruction effort in Iraq currently provides jobs for more than 20,000 Iraqis.