Archive for the ‘school’ Category

by Sgt. David Turner
American Forces Press Service

FOB KALSU (June 18, 2008) — For school children in the southern Baghdad area, getting an education has become a difficult and even dangerous prospect in recent years. In some cases, supplies were short and facilities were in disrepair. Sometimes the teachers weren’t there. In a few cases, the schools themselves were all but gone. The area where the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team arrived in June 2007 had long been an insurgent stronghold, with many villages controlled by al-Qaida terrorists who kept children, especially girls, from attending school. With no coalition or Iraqi security forces presence, local schools suffered the same fate as many farms and businesses in the area. They were looted and damaged, and even became battlegrounds.

“About two years ago, the Ministry of Education ordered all of the teachers out of the rural areas because the security situation was so bad,” said Army Capt. Trista Mustaine, education advisor to the Baghdad 7 embedded provincial reconstruction team, which works with 2nd BCT soldiers to rebuild the local infrastructure and economy. The area is now more secure than it has been in years, with Iraqi soldiers and police establishing a presence and preparing to hold gains made by 2nd BCT, which is scheduled to redeploy in July.

In addition to repairing critical infrastructure and breathing new life into the damaged economy, the 2nd BCT and Baghdad 7 embedded PRT have spent millions to keep schools open and make it possible for children to pursue an education. With the school year now over for children in the area, it’s a chance for workers to complete renovations and building projects throughout the 2nd BCT’s area of operation. Although reconstruction costs largely have been provided by coalition forces up to now, the Iraqi government is taking up the task and helping get local schools repaired and reopened before the next school year begins.

As he and his soldiers near redeployment in July, Army Capt. Richard Aaron, commander of Battery B, 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery, feels good about the work they have done. “We’ve made a huge impact on the community with the school, and with other projects we’ve done,” he said.

Now that the area is safe again and schools are getting the attention they need, the Iraqi government is ready to re-invest in a more significant way.”As of about a month ago, the Ministry of Education has ordered the teachers to return to their rural schools,” Mustaine said. Thanks to gains made by 2nd Brigade Combat Team, she said, government officials can work freely in the area to make sure their schools have what they need to teach the children. “Our goal is to provide accessible education for everyone. We have started the ball rolling, and the [Iraqi government] will keep it going in the future,” she said.

Children at Menahay Primary School in southern Baghdad pose for a photo. When al-Qaida operatives destroyed their school, students took classes in a nearby five-room private home until their school could be rebuilt. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Luis Delgadillo).

Source: CENTCOM.

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by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Hulle

DJIBOUTI (June 12, 2008) — U.S. Servicemembers here gathered an assortment of materials and construction skills to make repairs to the Balbalas primary school. Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74, based out of Gulfport, Miss., and Soldiers from the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion, based out of Columbus, Ohio, replaced light fixtures, hinges and hasps on shutters, fixed doorframes and repaired a water pump and cistern during an ongoing project at the school that is expected to be completed in June. The soldiers and sailors are deployed to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa. “I enjoy coming out and working on projects like this. I like to get out and help the community,” said Builder 2nd Class Kevin Bragwell, NMCB 74 crewmember. “Plus, every time we come out here, there’s something different to do.”

This was the first time Army Capt. Sikiru Kafaru, 412th CA BN team leader, worked side by side with Seabees. Kafaru said this was an “outstanding” experience. “For us it’s an exciting thing,” he said. “We appreciate the Seabees getting involved.” Without NMCB 74’s involvement, the 412th CA BN would have just donated the materials. Instead, by using the construction force’s building expertise, the crew is able to complete the many small projects and spend more time interacting with the community. “It’s a good thing,” said Bragwell. “We get good reactions, especially from the children. They are excited to see us.”

Housssin Abdi Ali, a fourth grade teacher at Balbalas, agrees. He said the Soldiers and Seabees having a presence at the school helps build the relationship between Djibouti and the U.S. Ali also said he hopes the improvements can help the school accommodate more than 2,000 students it already teaches. “If you are not educated, you are blind. That’s why this is so important,” he said.

Construction Electrician 2nd Class Justin Johnson repairs a light fixture at the Balbala primary school in Djibouti on May 31.

Source: CENTCOM.

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by Tami Hillis
4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

FOB KALSU, Iraq (May 9, 2008) – About 200 students from the vocational-technical school in the Iskandariyah Industrial Complex graduated May 4 among friends and family members. “I’d like to say congratulations to the vo-tech director and his staff but most of all to the students of this graduating class,” said Lt. Col. Jeff McKone, Multi-National Division – Center Iskandariyah Industrial Complex liaison, Team Iskan officer in charge. “It is an honor to be a part of the success in the rebuilding of the Iskandariyah vo-tech.” Graduates received a certificate of training along with a gift — sewing machine or computer repair kit — to help them get started in the business world.

In May 2007, only 32 students were enrolled at the technical school, but now there are more than 700, said Naseer Abdul Jabar, vo-tech director. He said by June they’re hoping to have 1,000 students enrolled per quarter.

The industrial complex is located in the northern Babil province, about 50 km south of Baghdad, and houses a cluster of state-owned factories and the vo-tech school, which is open to Iraqis wanting to learn job skills and trades. Some of the classes held there include computers, electrical engineering, plumbing, sewing, carpentry, air conditioning, mechanical, auto mechanics, machining, milling and grinding.

“Now that you have the skills you need, you will be able to serve this country and you will help the economy grow,” said Sabah al-Khafaji, chief of the Mussayib council.

The IIC is a business incubator similar to the Job Corps program in the United States, dedicated to young start-up businesses. It has the space required for manufacturing, research and development and administration for young and established enterprises. At the same time, the vo-tech school is intended to produce a steady stream of qualified workers for the industries and business, providing a further base of economic stability in the region.

Students and guests pack the auditorium for a graduation ceremony at the Vocational-Technical School in the IIC on May 4. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Tami Hillis)

Source: CENTCOM.

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American Forces Press Service

BASRA, Iraq (May 7, 2008) – Citizens of Basra, the third-largest city in Iraq, celebrated the opening yesterday of a central market that demonstrated a return of peace and prosperity to an area that until recently was a stronghold of Shia militias. Schools closed early as families from the Jameat district gathered with local dignitaries, investors and media to watch the ceremonial opening of the Jameat Market, Multinational Corps Iraq officials reported.

“I am pleased to open the Jameat Market, which is an excellent example of the many projects contributing to the rebuilding of Iraq,” said Nigel Haywood, the British consular general in southern Iraq. “This project will help establish prosperity in Basra.” The market was built on the site where the Jameat police station was destroyed Dec. 25, 2006. The construction of the market was paid for by coalition reconstruction funds, in conjunction with the provincial council. Local Iraqis built the market which was completed on March 23 at a total cost of about $1 million, officials said.

Operation Charge of the Knights, a citizens group that works to restore peace and security to Basra, was credited with opening the market. The market is expected to open for business within 30 days, and vendors already have rented many stalls, officials said. Traditionally, markets are a community focal point in Iraqi culture, and officials are considering proposals for similar markets in other areas of Basra.

In other signs of progress in the area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday completed renovations on a vocational technical center in the Zubair district of Basra province, coalition officials said. The $1.5 million project restored two facilities that included at least 24 workshops for vocational training. “Providing better educational opportunities will lead to better job opportunities,” said Army Lt. Col. Maura Gillen, a Multi-National Force – Iraq spokeswoman. “Vocational training is an investment in the economy, an investment in the development of a secure and prosperous Iraq.”

Also Tuesday, economic progress was seen in Baghdad when coalition forces awarded a small-business grant to boost fish farms in the area. Sheikh Jaffar of Khidr accepted the grant on behalf of a local fish farm association to buy two aerators for facilities in the Iskandariyah area, about 30 miles south of Baghdad. The aerators will be used in a holding pond, where 3 million young fish, or fingerlings, are scheduled for delivery later this month, officials said. Aerators provide oxygen to the pond to increase the survivability rate of the fingerlings, they explained.

Provincial reconstruction team representatives say it’s important for economic stimulus projects to be driven by Iraqis. “It’s important to help the Iraqis stimulate their own economy so they can have financial resources available to develop their own ideas and what they view as their own economic needs in their region,” said Army Maj. William Kerr of the 415th Civil Affairs unit attached to the 3rd Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team

Iraqi children watch the grand opening ceremonies of the Jameat Market in Basra. The children were released from school early to attend the community-building event. (Royal Navy photo by Leading Airman Jannine B. Hartmann).

Source: CENTCOM.

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BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (April 24, 2008) – Elementary school children from the U.S. and Afghanistan met each other Wednesday over a video teleconference facilitated by the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, as part of a partnership program and cultural exchange. CJSOTF-A has been working with village elders, teachers, parents and students of the Jan Qadam elementary school, outside the gates of Bagram Air Field, to enable the school to become a more effective center of education. Coalition troops have been able to supply more than 1,200 students with notebooks, pens, pencils, backpacks, rules and glue to get them started on a good school year, with the help of Calvert City Elementary School in Calvert City, Kentucky.

The Jan Qadam students used a conference room on Bagram Air Field while the Calvert City students used a conference room at Fort Campbell, Ky. Young Afghan girls wearing black dresses and white scarves excitedly whispered to each other, about the pretty, colorful shirts and long loose hair of their American counterparts. The Afghan boys, dressed similar to any American child with jeans, shirts and baseball caps, fidgeted as they waited their turn to talk and answer questions.

One of the highlights of the conference was when a young, confident Afghan boy stood up and read a letter he wrote to the American students in almost perfect English. At the end of the letter he said he hoped the American students would try to learn Dari and talk to him some day.

“We have been enriched by this program,” said Phyllis O’neill, Calvert City Elementary School Principal. O’neill said she encourages her students to do volunteer work and explore other cultures to gain an understanding of those cultures. This is important for the U.S. students because it really shows them it’s not easy for other students to go to school and get an education, O’neill said. “I appreciate all the students for sending these items,” said the Jan Qadam headmaster. “We are relatively poor and all the kids here are really happy for the supplies.”

Most students wanted to know simple things about each other. They asked about school, choice of favorite foods, sports, and animals and what activities they do during recess. Some of the Afghan children tried to stump the Calvert students with riddles and they clapped joyfully when the answers came over the airwaves. However, this is not the first communications these students have had. A few months ago, some of the Calvert City students wrote letters to the Jan Qadam students and their Afghan peers are in the process of writing them back.

According to a coalition representative, the goal is for the relationship between these schools to continue in order to enrich all of the students and show the importance of education. The partnership is meant as an exchange that will continue for years; enriching the lives of both sets of students.

Students and teachers from the Jan Qadam elementary school in Bagram clap at the answer a U.S. school child gave to a riddle they asked, during their first video teleconference. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marie Schult).

Source: CENTCOM.

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There’s been a dance of sorts going on in a town in Texas, and I do not like it. No, not one bit! A son got suspended from school for two days for answering a phone call from his father who is in Iraq risking his life. This may have been his last call ever. So why did they suspend him?

Zero Tolerance of cell phones in school. For those of you who agree that the rules are the rules, check this out. Master Sgt. Morris Hill personally spoke with the vice-principle to clear it with the school so that he could call his two sons, Joshua and Brandon, so he could call them. See, the only time he could call was during school. This is why he thought he had taken care of this situation.

The odd part is that the father had apparently made an arrangement in advance with the assistant principal to allow his sons to receive calls from him. “He had spoken with Mr. Fletcher,” said Pat Hill, the boys’ mother. “He thought there was an agreement understood that if he called either Joshua or Brandon at school, that everything was fine.”

“If this would have been the last phone call from my husband, and he’s in trouble for it and then has to deal with something happening to his dad that would be even harder,” Mrs. Hill added. “These schools have to stop and realize, especially when you are in a military community, we support our soldiers, we support our troops. What about them when they are in Iraq trying to reach their family?”

Mrs. Hill is trying to get the suspension removed from her son’s record, but the school says the matter is closed. Whether or not you support the United States’ actions overseas, you’ve got to understand that the soldiers are doing their job and that they and their families are still people — people who care very much about each other and have a need to stay in contact. It seems to me that the school could be more understanding on that point.

Folks, it is now in our hands. Here is the toll free number to call your Congressmen and Senators and express your concern. Remember to be polite but firm. This cannot be the law of the land when it comes to our Military families. It’s just WRONG! That number is 1-866-340-9281.

Please spread this message. Write about it on your own site. I want this to reach as many people as possible. It should not matter whether you are for or a’gin the war. What should matter is this family and fairness. How can we trust our principles when they straight out lie to us? This could be YOUR child.

Thank you for reading this. Now please write about it, e-mail it, digg it, and make those phone calls. Those of you that pray, please put on your best prayer suits and pray that his record is cleaned and military families everywhere are treated better. Thank you, and God bless our Military Families!

Copperas Cove
High School
400 S. 25th Street
Copperas Cove, Tx, 76522
Phone: 254- 547-2534
Fax 254- 547-9870

This is where you can reach the school. Click here to send an e-mail message:

Carol Saxenian – Principal.
Jimmy Shuck – Associate Principal
Richard Fletcher – Assistant Principal
Genie Jhingoor – Assistant Principal
Cynthia Kostroun – Assistant Principal


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by Jason Stadel
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

FOB KALSU, Iraq (April 8, 2008) — When an Air Force engineer first stepped foot in Hawr Rajab last December, a former al-Qaeda in Iraq safe haven, the thought that came to mind was a scene from an old western movie. “Most of the businesses were shuttered and the main road was more comparable to the O.K. Corral,” said Capt. Josh Aldred, a native of Flagstaff, Ariz. Four months later, AQI was gone and Aldred saw a community flourishing with business and hope.

Aldred was the primary instructor at the Village of Hope vocational school located on the grounds of Patrol Base Stone in Hawr Rajab. He ended his tour in Iraq April 3 and turned the project over to another Air Force captain.

Aldred and his 30-man team of engineer Airmen from the 557th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron had been teaching the Village of Hope students the basics of construction, plumbing, electricity, masonry and well drilling. The overall goal is to teach residents of Hawr Rajab necessary skills to rebuild their war-torn community. “The experience has been great and the students have been really receptive to learning new ideas and methods of construction,” he said. “This mission has been a big experiment for the Air Force and military engineers in general.”

The Airmen forged friendships with most of the 50 current students, all of whom are from Hawr Rajab. When they found out Aldred was returning to Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., they wrote him and his troops a letter of appreciation.

“In the past we had different feelings and a kind of misunderstanding towards the American people,” read the letter, signed by the students. “After being close to you, we found out that we are almost the same. We both love and care and sacrifice for other people. This removed the fears we had before and now we have become very good friends.”

The letter reinforced what Aldred was already thinking: the Village of Hope experiment is working. “In my mind, the Village of Hope concept should be used in other locations throughout Iraq,” he said. “In addition to helping the locals improve their community, the program helps Coalition forces because we give military-aged males another option to provide for their families instead of turning to those who would do us harm.”

Members of the Village of Hope class share the same sentiments as Aldred. They said they now see Americans as people wanting to make Iraq better for the Iraqi people, not as an occupying force. [Emphasis added.] “We will spread all of your nice words … to keep the good memories in our mind which changed our life and how we felt about Coalition forces,” the letter said.

When the current students graduate, they will join the Iraqi workforce as skilled tradesmen working to improve their community. “The effects of the Village of Hope include area beautification, new construction, which means more jobs, and tons of litter and rubble removed from the side of the road,” Aldred said.

Aldred added that he and his Airmen along with their Troop A, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division counterparts, who provide security and transportation to the Village of Hope, can take pride in their endeavor. “It feels good to have made a difference, and none of this would have been possible without a team effort from the Army and Air Force.”

As the students prepared to continue their studies with new instructors, they wished Aldred and his crew well and hoped the Airmen would remember their positive experience working in Hawr Rajab. “We hope that you have a good depiction of Iraq in your mind,” said the letter. “Tell your people and families about us when you arrive to the United States. Tell them about our good friendship and experience we have had together.”

Current Village of Hope students are scheduled to graduate in late May or early June. Three more classes are scheduled. When all four classes are complete, 200 Hawr Rajab residents will have graduated from the vocational school.

Capt. Josh Aldred (center) poses April 2 with the first Village of Hope class. Aldred and a team of 30 Airmen taught Hawr Rajab residents the basics of construction. (courtesy photo).

Source: CentCom.
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