BELIZE CITY, Belize - U.S. Air Force, Army and Marine Corps civil engineers unpacked their tools and are ready to engage with members of the Belize Defense Force Light Engineer Company to start construction on five sites in Belize.
The U.S. and Belizean teams will construct four school facilities in Belize City, one school facility in Hattieville and a medical facility in Belmopan.
The New Horizons civil engineering commander, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Peter Feng, met with officers from the BDF engineer company April 3 to solidify cooperative schedules, and members of the BDF company are set to join U.S. engineers on the construction sites April 7.
"I'm excited to see how the local Belize construction unit operates," said Tech. Sgt. Steven Ernst, project manager at the Hattieville school construction site. "We don't work with block as much as they do, so I'm interested to see their expertise level and if we'll be able to improve our processes. I'm hoping both sides will be able to make our processes more efficient."
Just as the civil engineers are eager to learn from one another, some administrators and teachers are also eager to see how the new buildings will affect operations at the school.
Sylvia Burns, reading and literature teacher at Sadie Vernon Technical High School in Belize City, said she's hoping that having a new building will attract more students to the school.
According to current plans, the new building will comprise of a science lab and classrooms.
"Having the new building will be beneficial," said Burns, who has been a teacher for 15 years, four of those at Sadie Vernon. "We have students with varied reading levels, so we split them into different groups. ... I'm hoping we will be able to use some of the extra space for our reading groups."
Regardless of the final purpose after construction, Burns said she is "really looking forward to having the new building."
Once construction is complete, the sites will be completely turned over to the host-nation for maintenance and use.