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Hello, Russian school. Refugees from Ukraine mark September 1st in St. Petersburg


Just days remain to September 1st. Medical examinations and teachers councils are now being held in schools. On Monday, kids from South-Eastern Ukraine will join young residents of St. Petersburg in schools.


For them this coming academic year will become truly new – new classmates, textbooks, evaluation system. St. Petersburg schools are ready to take everyone. Mariya Tikhonova made sure it was so.

Anastasiya Ivleva, pupil: “This is worse than World War II. I went to a multi-profile preparatory school. The only of its type in the whole of the Donbass. Now it was bombed – both the 1st and the 2nd one. Its hard for me to talk about it.

11-year-old Nastya can’t hold back tears recalling her preparatory school in native Gorlovka. Along with her mother and younger brother, she escaped from artillery fire – to St. Petersburg. Her father was not allowed to leave Ukraine. The girl has not seen him for almost two months. Only preparation for school took her mind a little bit off hard memories.

In St. Petersburg, Nastya will also attend preparatory school. It has a special uniform. Black and white classics and a blue jacket. Despite that children from Ukraine are not obliged to wear uniforms straight away, Nastya decided not to stick out. Instead of a store, they went to a flea market – so that her mom’s salary would be enough to buy new garments.

A minimum of stationery stuff saves them 400 rubles. They admit – it’s pricier than in Ukraine. One can save money on notepads, but its worth taking a quality record book. Its first page has a map of Russia – although Crimea is still not on it.

Darya Gulkina, Nastya’s mother: “All our friends voted yes. Ukrainian media says “they voted at the barrel of a gun” – now that’s a lie”

The Kulbashiny family were let to live in this flat absolutely free of charge. All books in possession became Dima’s learning materials. Before that, the boy had been studying in Ukrainian for 5 years in Kramatorsk, now he will go to a Russian-speaking school. Before, reading in Russian was compulsory. Not it will become necessary. But the future six-grader does not fear difficulties. Mother is actually more worried for his fate. They have had a cold reception in a nearby school

Tatyana Kulbashina, Dima’s mother: “they said he will not handle it. And that they had only a few openings. We were told that the documents had to be translated into Russian, and that’s costly and takes a lot of paperwork. We could not afford it”

School 195 is a little further away from home, but they found an opening for Dima. The boy was immediately taken on a football team. The only thing concerning him now is that his records book will have different-style marks.

Dmitriy Kulbashin, pupil: “Our top mark was 12, and I kept getting 6,7,8”

In order for all newcomers getting better marks, teachers will stay after classes with them – if needed. Those after school lessons will be free for Ukrainian children – just like medical examinations

Alexey Zhikulin, principal of School #195: “All children will be provided with textbooks. If their families have difficult conditions, they will possibly be provided with discounted or free breakfasts and lunches”

Around 300 children from Ukraine have filed documents to attend schools in St. Petersburg. How will this figure change once the new academic years starts – specialists cannot say at the moment

Nadezhda Spiridonova, head of general education department of Education Committee of St. Petersburg: “we cant say the exact number yet. Its connected to the fact that Ukrainians first arrive in St. Petersburg and then go to other regions”

Many of those are planning to stay in St. Petersburg for good. Nastya’s mother dreams of getting Russian citizenship, her daughter wants to get rid of the accent, which some kids may mock at school

Anastasiya Ivleva, pupil: “I’ll try to learn the new way. Trying already, not quite works yet. Been saying “gy” all my life, now will have to say “g”.