West Jessamine High School students share their close ties to Ukraine

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Posted at 5:58 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 18:35:28-05

JESSAMINE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Jessamine County School District has a large Ukrainian population, and a few high school students say the community has done so much to show their support.

These West Jessamine High School students have close ties to Ukraine. They each say last week's events took them by surprise.

Yuliia Litvin came to the U.S. from Ukraine four years ago. Most of her family is still there. She says she worries for their safety. Angelika Yarynka, also born in the county, has lived in the U.S. most of her life. Her brother's wife and son are trying to escape the country. She says lines are as much as 17-miles long. Her brother is heading to Poland to help.

"My brother has been there for me through my whole life. We've always been super close and everything like that," Yarynka said. "So, just knowing that he's getting close to that is like scaring me because ... that's like a lifeline for me."

West Jessamine High School leaders say its Ukrainian population is the second biggest in the district. This school, district, and community are finding ways to show their solidarity with this community.

The school district’s English Language Teacher, Kathy Davila, says, "We reach out to families a lot, we have meetings online with parents, and we have Ukrainian interpreters present. A few of us are trying to learn Ukrainian, which is a difficult language for us but we're trying."

Rachel Chubaruk was born in the U.S. but still considers herself a Ukrainian American. She is very involved in the non-profit, Christian Mission Ebenezer, which has nearly 100 missionaries in Ukraine. Some distributing supplies and funds.

"Americans can turn to non-profit organizations such as this and be able to help in any way they can,” says Chubaruk.

These students say their peers and even staff have a growing interest in their homeland and are coming together to show support in any way they can.

Chubaruk says, "It's bringing people together and to see the school do things like...kind of showing appreciation for the Ukrainians -- they're helping, asking questions, like, just really like, projecting the fact that the Ukrainians are on the side of America and it's pretty amazing to see."

These students say everything the community has done and the way this has brought everyone together has been amazing.