As we watched the orchestra class in action Friday morning at Aventura Waterways K-8 Center, the level of concentration was plain to see among the students.
However, for twin sisters Nicole and Victoria Sorokina, focusing on music is hard when they are worried about family members in Ukraine.
I asked Nicole, as a young person, are your parents trying to explain the war to you in ways you can understand?
“Yeah, they’re trying to explain it simply, like, not like too horrific, you know, they’re explaining simple things like how’s our family doing,” the seventh grader responded.
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“Well, it’s really scary knowing that your cousins are in danger and kids like us, they’re in basements, they’re hiding,” Victoria said.
Some students wore light blue and yellow to school Friday to support Ukraine. Aventura Waterways has a large population of Ukrainian and Russian students. Anastasia Miroschnichenko is a seventh grader who tells us she’s worried about her grandparents. They live near Kyiv. I asked her how tough this is on her parents.
“It’s even harder for them because they understand how dangerous it is,” Anastasia said. “My dad may never see his mom or his brother, it’s even worse for them, they always worried, they always talk about it, always watching the news.”
Arelys Ulloa teaches fifth graders who are in the English learners program. She’s been talking about the war in her class, and says many of her students are stressed by what they’re seeing on the news and by what they’re hearing at home. As if to illustrate her point, one of the kids started weeping softly and put her head down on her desk. The principal came over to hug and console her.
“They are worried about their parents there, one of them did not want to wear blue or yellow today because she’s from Russia, so you can see that, that stress,” Ulloa said.
So Ulloa had an idea: with so many kids from that part of the world in her classroom, she thought, let’s have them express themselves through art, their hopes, their dreams, their worries all on paper. The school now has a collection of posters mounted on a window.
“Just focus on finding peace, so that’s what they did, most of them did a good job, they reflected their feelings in the drawings,” Ulloa said.
Some are literally wearing their feelings. Anastasia wore a light blue shirt imprinted with a raised yellow and blue hand.
“Trying to spread awareness of what’s happening to show that we have to do something, even if it’s just spreading awareness,” she said.
So it appears the kids are more aware than the grownups might think.