Ukrainian child refugees in Chicago prepare to go back to school 6 months after start of war

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, August 24, 2022
Bittersweet back-to-school for refugees from Ukraine war in Chicago
Dozens of children from Ukraine prepare to go back to school six months after the start of the war.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Back-to-school can be such an exciting time for so many kids, but for dozens of Ukrainian refugees coming back to class Thursday is bittersweet.

"We are seeing mixed emotions," St. Nicholas Cathedral School principal Anna Cirilli. "We heard directly from some of the parents yesterday that the children are having some anxiety it's sort of a confirmation that they are that much farther from their home"

At St. Nicholas Cathedral School, signs are up, teachers and staff are preparing for a new school year, one that they pushed back so many families that came from Ukraine can celebrate their country's independence.

Flags flying along State Street also marked Ukraine Independence Day Wednesday also marks the six-month anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"It's really hard they are hearing stories constantly of about you know fires, bombs, buildings being destroyed, homes being destroyed people that they know being so close to death," Cirilli said.

Sixty-five students and their families came to St. Nicholas Cathedral School to find refuge. With community support, the school has been able to hire more teaches and staff to help with language barriers, and continued donations are helping kids slowly get back on their feet.

"We need more specific things that the students are missing still," Cirilli said.

More emotional support lesson plans will also be in place this school year for students that have to deal with the ongoing conflict happening in their homeland.

The principal said they plan to include a group prayer at the church to help start the year on a positive and encouraging note.

There is an Amazon Wish List with items that can be donated for the children. Items can be delivered directly to: St. Nicholas Cathedral School, 2200 West Rice Street, Chicago, Illinois 60622.

Monetary donations can be made here:

There is also a challenge grant of up to $50,000 for Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Program gifts that will directly impact students at the school. For more information, click here.

Since the start of the war, nearly 1,000 children have been hurt or killed in Ukraine.

Since the start of the war, nearly 1,000 children have been hurt or killed in Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine has killed or injured 972 children. UNICEF continues its efforts to help kids find basic needs like foot, water and schooling.

To donate, visit