BAGHDAD - After months of renovations supervised by the Qadisiyah Neighborhood Advisory Council, hundreds of students lined up to attend their school's grand reopening ceremony at the Al Hamza Elementary School Oct. 22.

Soldiers from Battery A, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and the 422nd Civil Affairs Detachment helped officially open up the school for more than 400 students from kindergarten through sixth grade.

According to Capt. Donald Cherry, Battery A's commander, he and his battery visited 12 different schools within Qadisiyah. The head mistress told them that there was a firefight right outside the school grounds where the students were playing. So, one of the first things Cherry asked for was to raise the outside wall to about eight feet.

"We raised the wall so the playground would be safer for the kids," the Bolivar, Tenn. native said. "Everything we've done is based upon what the head mistress told us she needed."
Aside from the wall, contractors also repainted the entire school, added new furniture, put in a new generator and made many other repairs.

"I'm surprised they got all the work done in three months, and I'm very happy with the work they've done," he added.

Qadisiyah NAC president, Raied Khaled, and the deputy, Mohammed Jalal, were on hand to cut the ribbon during the ceremony.

"I am happy that we were able to work with the Coalition Forces in making this school better for the teachers and students," Khaled told the attendees.

Cherry credited the NAC members for their work on making sure the school was suitable for the children and faculty.

"This would not have been possible without help from the NAC," Cherry said. "It's been a great partnership with these great people who care so much about Qadisiyah. This is a beautiful place. I'm glad we could be a part of a beautiful place with great people."

After the ceremony, the NAC and 3-82 FA Soldiers passed out backpacks for all the children.