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Airmen complete school construction, give tour to PTA members

GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Civil engineer Airmen deployed here as part of New Horizons Guyana 2009 have recently completed construction of the Bel Air Nursery School building this week, just in time for school.

Finishing two weeks ahead of schedule, Air Force reservists built the new school from the ground up the building and made it ready for its students to make themselves at home on the first day of school Aug. 31. But before the first student entered the classroom, the Airmen wanted to give the Parent Teacher Association, teachers and the principle a tour to get them familiar with their new facility.

"This is a dream come true for us," said Julia Desilva, Bel Air Nursery School principle. "We have had to shuffle around a lot to find building space and now we don't have to. It's just excellent."

The Airmen showed them how to turn off the water in case of leaking and also how to do some simple maintenance around the building.

"There's not a whole lot to do because it's already a pretty efficient building," said Chief Master Sgt. Steve Milhollin, 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Ga. "But at least they'll be familiar with it."

The tour also showcased a supply of extra materials such as tile, grout, light bulbs and a ceiling fan the team is leaving behind in case its needed in the future for repairs.

"Now that the building is done, we just wanted to show them some things about it so that after we leave they can maintain it," Chief Milhollin said.

The Bel Air Nursery school will enroll approximately 70 students by the end of the year. Children age 3 to age 5 will have four teachers, a new building and two new playground sets.

"The parents are very excited too to have such a nice new school," Ms. Desilva said. "There is a lot of confidence that this will be a great place for their children to come to school. They love the playground."

The Airman also pooled their funds to purchase a computer and keyboard for the school so the children can learn computer and typing skills.

"Kids in the States are using computers so young and we wanted to give them the same opportunity here," Chief Milhollin said.

The children are now equipped with a new building, a new computer and two new playground sets.

"The kids seem thrilled. They all bunched up in an effort to get on the play set at the same time, but they were patient too and each was waiting for their turn," said Errin Sennet, 555th Civil Engineer Rapid Engineers Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineers (RED HORSE), Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. "They love the playground and it was great to see them enjoying it."

New Horizons Guyana is a long-running, long-term Southern Command-sponsored program that annually provides humanitarian assistance to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The New Horizons projects create a unique opportunity for the U.S. and partnering nations to work side-by-side to refine skills of their military's engineers, medical personnel and support staff through quality-of-life activities. For New Horizons Guyana, the Air Force, Marines, Navy and Army worked hand-in-hand with the school's teachers and students to complete the humanitarian mission.

For a photo story of the first day of school in this new building, click here.

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