Story Number: NNS140716-09Release Date: 7/16/2014 12:15:00 PM
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Schneider, Southern Partnership Station 2014 Public Affairs Ashore
PUNTA GORDA, Belize (NNS) -- U.S. service members from Southern Partnership Station 2014 (SPS-JHSV 14) ashore and Belize Defense Force personnel completed renovations on the Bethel Seventh Day Adventist School (Bethel) grounds in Punta Gorda, Belize, July 14.
The need for the repairs on Bethel was a direct result of a fire that nearly burnt down the school in February 2014.
"Students, teachers and parents are all excited something finally happened," said Rose Odinga, principal of Bethel. "We went from only being able to teach on one side of the school, to a new building and a great feeling for the upcoming school year."
Service members attached to the Belize Defense Force and U.S. military have put more than 1,200 hours of work at the school since arriving to Belize.
Renovations on the school included four classrooms, roofing, electricity, plumbing, and new kitchen appliances. The project will impact more than 1,000 students.
"We did this for the kids because we are getting older and they will one day be the future leaders of Belize," said Belize Defense Force service member James Castillo.
After the summer is over, students at Bethel can start the new school year with all the new upgrades.
"It was an honor to work alongside the Belize Defense Force to get this school ready for the upcoming school year," said U.S. Navy Builder 2nd Class Adam Jones, a native of Pulaski, Virginia attached to Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202. "Seeing the smiles on the teachers and students really felt good. I am glad I had the opportunity to make a difference here."
The gratitude from everyone at the school sent the team off with a sense of accomplishment, but most important is that the children are in great spirits for the coming school year.
Military Sealift Command joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) is scheduled to return to Belize to reload and transport service members to Guatemala to continue the SPS-JHSV 14 mission.
SPS-JHSV 14 is a U.S. Navy deployment focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces. U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet employ maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships that foster regional security in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.