Capt. Patrick Soule and 1st Lt. Rosita Rodriguez enjoy refreshments handed out by a student at the opening of Al Tajadud elementary school Oct. 26 in the Adhmaiyah District of Baghdad.
BAGHDAD (Oct. 30, 3008) – Rebuilding schools is a top priority for Multi-National Division – Baghdad to eliminate terrorist and criminal activities and set the condition for a brighter future for Iraqi youth.
Al Tajadud school in the Adhamiyah District of Baghdad reopened Sunday after undergoing a two-month renovation. With $220,000 from the government of Iraq, Soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, completed the rebuilding project.
“There have been some challenges to get schools funded and rebuilt here in Iraq,” said Capt. Patrick Soule, a native of Poth, Texas and commander for D Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, currently attached to 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment.
Soule said the school is a two-session school, each one having their own name. The morning session is Al Tajadud school, which is a boys and girls elementary school. The afternoon session is called Al Abda school, which is an all-girls junior high school.
The school, built in the 1960’s, was in desperate need of work after witnessing several years of fierce fighting and its use as a mortar platform by terrorists and criminals.
“The school was in bad shape when it was recommended to us by the local NAC [Neighborhood Action Committee]. You could tell it was pretty shot up,” said 1st Lt. Rosita Rodriguez, a native of Morristown, N.J., and team chief of C Company, 404th Civil Affairs Battalion, currently attached to 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.
Rodriguez said the improvements made included new classrooms, new roof and floor, a completely new electrical network, and additional bathrooms with a complete sewer network. The outside was painted tan with a green trim and a play ground was installed in the courtyard consisting of a basketball court and volleyball net.
The school’s headmaster said the new facility is a complete turn around from less than a year ago confirming that terrorists used to lob mortars from the courtyard of the school.
“It was notorious for finding caches,” Rodriguez said.
The official opening of the school was marked with a ribbon cutting by Omar Rahmani, vice chairman for the Adhamiyah District Advisory Council followed by a poem in Arabic recited by the boys and girls of the elementary school. The children clapped in rhythm welcoming all guests, and thanking everyone for their “prettier school.”
The pomp and circumstance continued when a young Iraqi boy stood in front of all the guests and sang a traditional Iraqi song. Then Iraqi girls from the junior high school passed out refreshments, as a group of students recited lines in English they had learned from their textbooks.
When the ceremony concluded, Soule, Rodriguez and Rahmani handed out backpacks to a line of eager children.
Rodriguez was happy with the turn out and the importance this school opening has had on the people.
“It impacted the children and the community. They are very grateful for this school,” Rodriguez said.
Soul said he believes education is the cornerstone that will help rebuild Iraq and give the Iraqi people confidence in their government and the local leaders.
“It’s a good step forward,” Soule said, “putting money back into the schools and investing in future generations”