To Defenders of Freedom

Valeriia and her classmates in Kharkiv organized a prom near the ruins of their Russian-bombed school

The Russians broke into school number 134 in Kharkiv in late February. The occupiers remained there until the Ukrainian military eliminated them. However, the enemy left behind a ruined school — and took away from the students not only a space for studying, but also the opportunity for 11th graders to celebrate their prom. However, the children and their parents decided to organize the celebration anyway.

Nine students danced a farewell waltz in their school yard. Ukrainian soldiers who took part in the operation to destroy the enemy at the school attended the celebration and congratulated the graduates. According to the children, this idea came to them at the beginning of the war — the students had been preparing and learning to dance since the winter.

Anna Episheva, the aunt of high school graduate Valeriia, shares the story on her Facebook page: “My niece was supposed to graduate this year from her high school. She and her friends planned the graduation event, bought dresses, and were looking forward to the big day… Then the Russians came. Her school was directly hit and destroyed on Feb 27th, 2022. Today she came back to what is left of her school and her plans for the graduation. Thank you, my dear Valeriia, for being strong and brave, so proud of you, and love you so much.”

The video became a viral hit. And recent alums have already talked to presenters and journalists on Ukrainian TV channels. Despite their experiences, these children are making plans. They plan their entry into universities, their future, and their life in Ukraine, a free and independent country.

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