PRIGORODNOE, Kyrgyzstan -- Representatives from the Transit Center at Manas, U.S. Embassy Bishkek and the Kyrgyz Republic local officials, celebrated the completion of the Prigorodnoe High School renovation with a dedication ceremony, Mar. 4.
The project, which cost more than $227,000, took about eight months to complete. The renovations consisted of extensive electrical, lighting and plumbing system repairs, the installation of two new boilers, insulation, new exhaust fans, 64 windows, 54 doors, and 2,700 square meters of flooring, including the newly renovated gymnasium floor where the ceremony took place.
"This is the biggest project I've worked on to date," said Staff Sgt. James Grueser, Transit Center Theater Security Cooperation Division project manager. "The completion of this project has been a fantastic experience. It's great for the people that invested so much time and effort on this project to provide a safe and warm learning environment for the students and faculty."
Prior to renovation, the school of almost 800 students, ranging in grades 1st through the 11th, had to endure study in harsh local weather conditions. The school's director witnessed the hardship on both the teachers and students.
"The impact of this project is huge for the children, teachers and parents," said Ismanova Aigurek, Prigorodnoe High School director. "There were such harsh conditions before; the children and teachers had to conduct lessons in their jackets. Prior to the repairs students would get sick during the cold months, now that they don't get sick anymore, there is almost 100 percent attendance."
This is the second largest humanitarian assistance school project partnered between the Theater Security Cooperation division of the Transit Center, U.S. Embassy in Bishkek and the Kyrgyz Ministry of Education for fiscal year 2012.
"The Transit Center and the U.S. Embassy are proud to partner with you on this meaningful project," said Col. Frank Allara, 376th Expeditionary Medical Group commander. "This dedication serves as an example of the strong relationship between Kyrgyz Republic and U.S. government. A relationship based on shared values and interests that has steadily developed and continues to strengthen between our two countries."
During the ceremony, local Kyrgyz government officials also recognized importance of this major renovation to the school and expressed the hope of the continued partnership between the countries.
"This [project] not only benefits the children, but the village. This is one of several shared projects in the village that has had a major impact on the people in the area, especially addressing the needs of the children," said Sakkaraey Mars Namurbekovich, head of Alanudun Regional Governmental Administration. May the partnership with both governments continue to grow each day, he said.
The relationship between the school and the Transit Center extends past this one project. Prigorodnoe High School is one of the community partners of the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron. Lt. Col. Russell Davis, 22 EARS commander, was on-hand to share in the celebration. Members from his squadron participate in community partnership events with the school on a regular basis.
We come out to the school every three or four weeks and play sporting events or conduct cultural exchanges, said Davis. "We usually have school or sports supplies we've accumulated or purchased downtown that we hand out to the kids."
The impact of their efforts can be seen by the greeting received from the school faculty and students.
The festive event featured hand-made gifts from the students presented to Transit Center and U.S. Embassy representatives. This was followed by several performances by the students displaying in a wide range of talent in song, dance and the playing of the traditional Kyrgyz instrument, the Komuz. The ceremony was marked by the ribbon-cutting with Transit Center, U.S. Embassy and Kyrgyz local government representatives.
The ceremony ended the way it began, with a display of friendship. Children of all grades marched into gymnasium holding flowers and balloons and waving the U.S. and Kyrgyz flags.
Davis summed up the feeling expressed by many at the event.
"The relationship is incredible. This is something that will impact the children's life for many, many years and many generations too," he said.