End of School Year Traditions in Ukraine
With the spring semester underway and graduations on the horizon, we can’t help but be excited for all the fun ahead. But we are also struggling, knowing that so many people in Ukraine are fleeing for their lives amid an unwanted war. Life is at a standstill and education is understandably not a priority while there is so much uncertainty for Ukrainians. According to a published report from UNICEF, there are more than 350,000 students without access to education as Russia invades the country. However, we’ve read remarkable stories of school teachers continuing to educate students in underground bomb shelters to keep some semblance of normalcy. Even in wartimes, learning never ends.
In much safer, happier times, the excitement surrounding the end of the school year is the same in Ukraine as it is in the United States and around the world. On the last day, students flock to Independence Square in Kyiv, a symbol of freedom and promise for Ukrainian citizens since it broke from the U.S.S.R in 1991, and celebrate their educational accomplishments by splashing in its fountains. Called The Last Bell Ceremony, which is a tradition carried over from Soviet days, students begin the celebration by having the smallest student sit on the shoulders of the tallest student and ring the school bell, signifying the end of classes (though final exams are still to come). Parents typically attend the event which includes speeches from teachers, before the students head to Independence Square to let loose and have fun.
This year will likely not have such educational fanfare and celebration. Our support is with Ukraine and our thoughts are with all Ukrainian citizens. We look forward to a time when they are not faced with war and are able to celebrate their accomplishments at Independence Square again, when it will hopefully have an even greater meaning.
Cover photo by Yura Khomitskyi on Unsplash
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