Renovated school opens doors to local children

Blackanthem Military News, BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 05, 2006

 

The newly renovated Al-Widha Primary School for boys and girls sits nestled underneath the shade of palm trees in the Al Rasheed district of south Baghdad.(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kelly McDowell, 2nd BCT PAO, 101st Abn. Div.)

Since 1958, a small building has stood in a village south of Baghdad as the cornerstone of education for the young children of the Al Rasheed district.

As the years have passed, the Al-Widha Primary Co-Educational School has fallen victim to the weather, suffered years of neglect, overcrowding and a shortage of school supplies coupled with dilapidated desks and classrooms. The school was also utilized as a polling site during the December Iraqi National Elections, which is what led the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, to its doors.

When the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, began patrols during the elections in the Al-Rasheed district, they visited the local area facilities that were slated to be polling sites and found the Al-Wadha school was in much need of renovations in order to offer a proper environment for the children to learn.

"Basically, we came and cleaned the school up so the children did not have to go to school in a trash dump," said 2nd Lt. Johnathan Carney, Fire Support Officer, Company D, 1-502nd Inf. Regt. "We just kind of made it a little nicer for the children."

On April 25, the efforts of 1-502nd Inf. Regt., local contractors and the city council chief came full circle as a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held celebrating the completion of the renovations.

"The ceremony represents a new start for the school," Carney said. "It is just to show that we are here for the Iraqi people, and we are here to help them. It is good both for the Iraqi army, who helped with the renovations, and the town of Al Rasheed."

For two months, Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers, contractors, Iraqi army soldiers and the city council worked tirelessly after classes were let out in the afternoon to provide everything from new windows, removing trash and debris, improving the sewage system and painting and repairing the building.

"It looks good right now," Carney said. "There are still some things I would like to get done. It is leaps and bounds from what it was."

Future plans for the school include new desks, blackboards and air-conditioning units. No school is complete without proper learning materials, and the Soldiers are planning on providing the children with notebooks, pens, pencils and even an expansion of the building to provide relief from overcrowding in the classrooms.

"The school looks really good since the school yard has been cleaned," said a teacher at the school. She has been a teacher for 24 years and spent a majority of her career at the Al-Widha School and currently teaches one of the girls classes. "I look forward to the expansion of the school - more rooms for the classes."

 

Story and photos by Spc. Kelly McDowell
2nd BCT PAO, 101st Abn. Div.

 

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:

 

Capt. Louis Kangas (right), commander, Company D, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, and an Al Rasheed city council chief cut the ribbon at a ceremony held for the newly remodeled Al-Wadha Primary school for boys and girls Wednesday. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kelly McDowell, 2nd BCT PAO, 101st Abn. Div.)
Capt. Louis Kangas (right), commander, Company D, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, speaks through a translator to a Al Rasheed city council leader about the importance of such projects as the renovation of the Al-Widha Primary School for boys and girls during the ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kelly McDowell, 2nd BCT PAO, 101st Abn. Div.)
Spc. John Ruiz, 1st Platoon, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, waves goodbye to the students at the Al-Widha Primary School for boys and girls after a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Wednesday. The newly renovated school has been in the Al Rasheed district since 1958 and was used as a polling site for the December elections.(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kelly McDowell, 2nd BCT PAO, 101st Abn. Div.)

 

 

 

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