Education is a big topic for the nation right now, as the COVID pandemic opened the eyes of Americans seeing the failing system only get worse. But even with contentious politics and perpetually failing grades, it is important to remember that things could always be worse. As bad as public education in the United States may seem, at least children in the nation have schools to go to, unlike most Ukrainian students. Over the months, students in the war-torn country have had to fight to keep up with their studies. To portray the tribulations seniors this year had to overcome, a photographer captured portraits of some grads in a war-ravaged city, and the photos were both beautiful and ominous. See the photo slide below.
Ukrainian photographer Stanislav Senyk has made a viral name for himself, as he has captured stunning photos of the decimated Eastern Europe nation over the last few months as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine. In his most recent endeavor, the photographer snapped photos of Ukrainian students celebrating their high school graduation, but in a much different backdrop than most would expect. Sharing the photos with Reuters, the seniors posed for stark photos with the annihilated city of Chernihiv, Ukraine as their backdrop.
In the first photo, one Ukrainian student is seen standing in front of a building, with graffiti plastered across its front. The student is wearing a celebratory drape – most likely in honor of her graduation. She is waving a blue and yellow ribbon, in honor of her country’s colors. Her face; seemingly expressionless.
In another photo, a male Ukrainian student is pictured posing next to a destroyed military vehicle. For the photo next in the slide, he sits on the gun of the tank, with other students posed behind him. The city was heavily hit for over a month by Russian forces, who abruptly withdrew from their attack in early April, according to NPR. Seeing their fair share of conflict, the city was under fire daily, and more than 200 citizens were murdered.
In a few other photos, the Ukrainian students are seen posing inside buildings, possibly apartment complexes, where entire walls were blasted out. Families had to evacuate their homes and livelihood when the Russians invaded the city, many going to nearby villages for refuge. When they returned, nothing was left, and homes, stores, and businesses were all decimated.
Photographer Stanislav Senyk told Reuters that he felt it was crucial to capture the graduation of these Ukrainian students in this manner. He hopes it will serve as a reminder of their resiliency through these times. Likewise, he knows that it will be something they can show their families in years to come, and serve not just as a memory, but as physical proof of what they lived through. Furthermore, Senyk plans to showcase the photos in exhibitions, in an attempt to raise money for Ukrainian troops.
While safety is of the utmost concern for Ukrainian students and their families, NPR reports that the majority of the country’s youth still remain in school throughout the war, one way or another. The Russia-Ukraine war has raged on for four months now, and it still appears to have no end in sight. It is now reported that more than 500 children have been killed or injured in Ukraine during this period, and these photographs serve as a reminder that it is the students that often suffer the most during treacherous times of war.