BAGHDAD, Iraq -- When students at the Yarmook Girl's School in Sadr City returned from summer vacation last month, they found that their school had received an extreme make-over, thanks to U.S. Army, Europe Soldiers, the Iraqi National Police and the government of Iraq.

Soldiers from USAREUR's 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment and Iraqi National Police officers visited the recently renovated school Oct. 22 to see the improvements and hand out backpacks and soccer balls to the students.

The $200,000 renovation to the school included a new roof; a new lighting system; repairs to cracks in the pavement and stairs, and a paint job, said Capt. Alex Carter, a civil affairs team chief attached to the 2nd SCR who helped oversee the project.

Nine other schools in Sadr City have also been renovated over the past few months as part of the same program that refurbished the Yarmook school, Carter said. The school improvement program was made possible by cooperation between Iraq's Ministry of Education, local neighborhood councils, school officials, the Iraqi National Police and the Stryker squadron, which operates in the Sadr City area, he said.

"What makes this special to me is that this really validates how effective we are working with the Iraqi police in Sadr City," Carter said.

The senior Iraqi police official present at the school visit, Brig. Gen. Ali Ibrahim Daboun, commander of the 8th Brigade, 2nd INP Division, said he was pleased by cooperation between the Iraqi government, the Iraqi security forces and the U.S. military.

He said he hoped that the school improvement program would show the 2.5 million residents of Sadr City that they are a priority of the Iraqi government.

"In the past, they were neglected, but the new government will serve them," he said.