Thursday, September 04, 2003

Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division held a ribbon-cutting Wednesday for three renovated schools in northwest Baghdad.

The schools were renovated by local contractors hired by the 1st Battalion of the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. The work was interrupted and the buildings were damaged by the bombing of the Jordanian Embassy last month.

The embassy bombing broke all of the newly installed windows in the schools. But paratroopers from 1st Battalion were able to get replacement windows and open the school on time.

Iraqi children return to school at the end of the month.

"Because of the work done here, these students will have a better place to learn as we all move forward to a better Iraq," said Maj. Paul Fellinger, executive officer for the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. "With this kind of dedication and resolve, there is clearly nothing the Iraqi people cannot do."

The schools will employ 91 teachers and serve 1,200 students. It took four weeks to repair the schools at a cost of $26,470.

About 20 teachers and community leaders attended the ribbon cutting. Afterward, the guests drank cold soft drinks and ate cookies with the soldiers.

Amal Yaryts, headmaster of one of the schools, said the school was in severe disrepair before the paratroopers helped renovate. "It is great to have a good new school," she said. "God willing, it will help us teach the students better."

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