North Wexford primary school shows solidarity with Ukrainian pupils by giving them a platform to share their stories

Emer Russell (Principal) and Lisa Urbanski (EAL teacher) pictured with pupils from Ukraine- Sofiia Kasianok, Gleb Kasianok, Sofiia Panasenko, Lera Shcherban in Scoil Ghormáin Naofa, Castletown on Friday afternoon. Pic: Jim Campbell

Amy LewisGorey Guardian

It has been over one year since four Ukrainian students were welcomed to Scoil Ghormáin Naofa, Castletown and while they have since made new friends and adopted new activities, staff at the school want to ensure their stories and traditions are acknowledged.

To mark the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a special school assembly was held during which these children could share their stories. Sofiia Kasianok, Gleb Kasianok, Sofiia Panasenko and Lera Shcherban each took the opportunity to retell their stories of leaving Ukraine and teach their fellow students more about themselves and their native country. In honour of the significant date, Principal Emer Russell presented each one with a gift.

EAL teacher, Lisa Urbanski said that the event was a wonderful opportunity for the students to share their stories and part of a number of things that Castletown and other Wexford schools have organised to support the Ukrainian children.

“I am an EAL teacher for the Ukrainian children in four different schools – Tara Hill, Castletown, Coolgreany and Ballythomas. I am there to support the Ukrainian children," she explained. “

“I do language support obviously but we really work on support with social and emotional skills. We make sure that we are checking in every day and acknowledging the fact that they are really sad and not in their homes. We are empathising with them all the time and showing them that everyone is here to support them.”

Through introducing them to various afterschool activities and celebrating Ukrainian holidays, Lisa and her colleagues aim to offer a sense of belonging to the 11 Ukrainian students across the four schools.

“When we did Easter and new year celebrations, he schools were really supportive of highlighting the Ukrainian traditions too," she explained.

“The kids really empathise with them also and really involve them in everything.”