OZORNOE, Kyrgyzstan -- Students dressed in traditional Kyrgyz costumes offered bread and smiles as they greeted representatives of the Transit Center at Manas, U.S. Embassy Bishkek and local Kyrgyz officials who arrived for the Ozornoe Secondary School Dedication ceremony recently.
The ceremony celebrated the completion of a Humanitarian Assistance renovation project between the U.S. and the Kyrgyz government.
The repairs consisted of the installation of 75 double-pane energy-efficient windows, extensive replacement of pipes, radiators and electrical systems and a refurbished heating system. The seven-month project cost more than $53,000 to complete.
"Completing this project gave the Kyrgyz government and the Transit Center an opportunity to come together and support the children of the Ozornoe School. The kids now have a warm, comfortable environment to study in," said Staff Sgt. James Grueser, Transit Center Theater Security Cooperation Division program manager.
Ozornoe Secondary School was originally constructed in 1968 and this is the first time there has been any kind of renovations.
According to the school's principal, the school was originally planned for a total of 192 students with grades ranging from first to eleven. They now have more than 980 students and operate in three shifts with four graduating classes. The school's principal thanked the TCM and U.S. Embassy for making a warm, safe and cozy environment in which the children can study.
"Because we have a large difference between full capacity and the students who attend the school--we have 35 different class groups getting an education here. We thank the partners who helped make the school a better environment for our children," said Momunova Jarkyn Tursunalievna, Ozornoe Secondary School principal.
This project further symbolizes the partnership between the U.S. and Kyrgyz governments.
"Today we're here to celebrate education and accomplishment. We're so proud of the completion of this project and much needed repairs. It is days like today that I feel the true bond and friendship between the American and Kyrgyz people," said Col. Shirlene Ostrov, 376th Expeditionary Mission Support Group commander.
The improvement of the educational environment of the children was a consistent theme expressed throughout the ceremony.
"I would like to personally thank the Transit Center and U.S. Embassy for the good thing you have done for this school. All that you've invested in our school has a huge social impact on our school," said Khvan Ludmila Petrov, leading specialist of Alamedin State Administration."
The sentiment of partnership and was echoed by the U.S. Embassy Bishkek representative Mark Fernando.
"This event is a result of a great friendship and cooperation between the U.S. government and the Ministry of Education in Kyrgyz Republic. This is one of the many ways we exhibit our continued support to the schools of the Kyrgyz Republic," he said.
The ceremony ended with a showcase of the talents from the students of the school. They sang, danced and recited poetry representing the great celebration of this event.
"I'm sure our children many years from now will be able to look at the windows here and say this was provided by a country far away from here. Your time here may end here eventually, but a piece of you will always remain in the warmth that you've given to this project. We will remember you with kind words and good memories," said Tatyana Vasilyevna, Deputy Mayor of Prigorodnoe Village District.