Images which bring the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine into stark focus probably more than we have ever seen before, flashed across our screens through social media and many other communication streams. These images continue daily; for pupils in our school these are images of home, they are not just’ news ‘, they are a lived reality. Our pupils from both Ukraine and Russia have come together to support each other, recognising the shared reality of what their families are facing. Their compassion for each other in the face of such adversity is a strength we are all very proud of.
What could we do as a community – how could we make a difference? We had to do something. We spoke in the Meeting House and pupils were given a presentation in form time to help raise awareness. The response has been amazing. Pupils were asked to consider what they could do in simple terms. To start the process, we had a non- uniform day – on such days we usually raise about £400-500. We raised just over £2000 – how amazing – thank you. We said this would be just the start and it is. Pupils were asked to think about what they could do without to raise donations – their response has been wonderful.
Our community was anxious for everyone to realise that the efforts to support Ukraine would not be a ‘one off’. We realised that this was an emerging and critical need which would require ongoing support. The pupils in school have met and discussed lots of ideas to help maintain a focus.
Currently we have a group who are taking over the ‘Nostell Park Run’ on the morning of Saturday 26th March. Pupils and staff will come together to marshal the course dressed in yellow and blue with buckets to collect donations; yellow and blue ribbon twists have been made again to offer for donations.
We are following up on our Peace Circle by asking pupils to write messages of peace and hope on ribbon twists of yellow and blue which will be hung in our Peace Garden; we will ask for small donations for each ribbon twist. We know every little bit counts and will make a difference.
Our community efforts have been amazing; day on day, bags and boxes of every kind of donation have arrived in school. As each load has been moved, another donation arrives. The community spirit coming together to make a difference has been wonderful. The thought which has gone into some of these has led to many tears being shed.
Next week 3rd form pupils in school are taking responsibility for craft work which has been created to be sold for donations; a range of small items will be available.
Next term we have a concert planned and other events which will be ongoing as our community continues to show how much we all care.
Having packed the third van and extra cars with all the items which have been donated, pupils waved the drivers off as the much needed items went first to Huddersfield to then be taken by the army to Poland. Thank you to the efforts of Rana, Danny, Mark, and Brian for making the delivery process a reality! Additionally, thank you to the Parents Staff Association for the continued efforts and organisational skills in handling all the donations.
Finally, we have periods of silence in school which allow for reflection, an important part of the Quaker Ethos. Pupils and adults know that they can speak at any point within the silence if they wish to share their thoughts or feelings.
At the end of our first week back in school which was about 10 days since the invasion:
One of our pupils stood up in the midst of silence in our Meeting House and spoke from their heart about what was happening in Ukraine. This personal, eloquent moment will never be forgotten by those that were present. Over 300 pupils from the age of 11-19 heard these words and felt the reality of what was happening in the lives of Ukrainian people. As teachers we could only admire the courage and fortitude of this individual. Words made more powerful by the voice that spoke.