Show You Care: Highland students and staff show support for their Ukrainian teacher

The whole school dressed in yellow and blue and wore Ukraine pins to show they stand with their teacher and Ukraine.
Updated: Apr. 17, 2022 at 6:45 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RIVERSIDE, Iowa (KCRG) - Whether it’s with light displays, posters or fundraisers, people around the world, and right here in Eastern Iowa, are showing support for the people of Ukraine as Russia continues its invasion of the country.

Olga Zelenski teaches middle and high school math at Highland schools in Riverside. Her home is Ukraine, and some of her family still lives there, close to the Poland border in Western Ukraine.

”Twenty-three years ago, we left our family in Ukraine,” said Olga Zelenski.

Olga checks the news every day for updates about her home country.

“At home, I am watching and reading Ukrainian news from the internet,” Zelenski said. “It is really painful to watch the horror.”

To show support for their teacher, the High School Student Council and National Honor Society created an event to surprise her and raise money for a Ukrainian Relief fund of Olga’s choice.

The whole school dressed in yellow and blue and wore Ukraine pins to show they stand with their teacher and Ukraine.

”It was a really good show of support. Having the entire middle and high all in one place, because usually when we do things like this we’re separate. But having everybody in one place and seeing everyone that wore the blue and gold was really cool and really just showed how much of a community we really are,” said Kelsi Cerny, a Highland Sophomore.

Students lined the halls with Ukrainian colors and the band played the Ukrainian national anthem.

”She stepped out and she started singing. It was absolutely special. I got teared up. To see everybody out there, in the moment. It wasn’t about him or her. It was about Mrs. Zelenski and her country,” said Traci Vonnahme, Administrative Assistant / Student Council Co-Sponsor.

Together, the school raised more than 800 dollars for the ‘Come Back Alive’ organization.

”They’re going through something right now that’s turning their world upside down, and we can support them,” Danika Kraus, Highland Freshman.

”I kind of hope that we can understand what is going on in Ukraine and that something as little as this can help someone so much,” said Laney Skelton.

Helping Olga Zelenski make Highland her home away from home.

”I was really amazed by the music, by the hugs I received that day, and flowers, and flowers. So, I will never forget. I really feel loved here,” said Olga Zelenski.

If you’d like to donate to Olga Zelenski’s relief fund, you can click here.

Copyright 2022 KCRG. All rights reserved.