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Sewickley Academy Rallies to Support Teacher and Ukraine

The students, faculty, and staff of Sewickley Academy rallied to show support for the people of Ukraine, and in particular, Global Studies teacher Nataliya DiDomenico, who grew up in the now war-torn country. DiDomenico moved to the U.S. in 2007, and her mother and brother still reside in her homeland. She has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of care and consideration from her school community, which included monetary donations and countless necessities that will be primarily donated through two organizations, DT Care and Brother’s Brother Foundation.

“The support from everyone has been tremendous,” said DiDomenico. “It seems like everyone throughout the entire school wanted to be part of it in any way they could.”

When the threat of war in Ukraine was imminent, DiDomenico offered a seminar for anyone at the Academy interested in learning more about the country, the conflict, and her family. To her surprise, she found her office door decorated shortly thereafter in Ukrainian colors and covered in notes of support from her students.

Her Global Studies students then approached her about coordinating a Ukrainian Crisis Relief Campaign with their classmates in Grades 9-12 as well as faculty and staff. Additional effort was offered by Senior School mathematics teacher, Matt Michaels, whose grandfather was born in Ukraine and whose family has always maintained a connection with the country. The relief plans quickly expanded to include both the Middle and Lower schools at Sewickley Academy as well.

To kick off their campaign in the Senior School, participants were encouraged to dress in blue and yellow for school on April 12, 2022, to show their support for the Ukrainian cause. The students then arranged for a group photo which has been turned into a postcard. Everyone was given the opportunity to write notes on the back of the cards, and DiDomenico provided cheat sheets with English to Ukrainian translations. The cards have been included with the donations.

Each Senior School advisory group was assigned a hygiene-related item to collect over a two-week time period, ending April 28. In the spirit of competition, the group with the largest collection earned a lunch from Chipotle. Without question, Michaels' advisory team surpassed all other groups, collecting 395 boxes of 50-count cotton swabs. The items will be used to create kits for Ukrainian evacuees forced to leave their homes with very little to no belongings.

Items collected included 40 boxes of gallon-size resealable bags along with 200 bars of soap, 86 containers of hand lotion, 72 washcloths, and 60 tubes of toothpaste, as well as travel-size toothbrushes with caps/cases, deodorant, mouthwash, dental floss, disinfecting wipes, lip balm, and hair ties. An individual student and family contributed 20 pre-assembled, zippered toiletry bags with all necessities included. All items were given to DT Care, an organization providing emergency aid response to Ukrainian refugees. Additionally, $273.24 cash was raised and will be donated to Brother’s Brother Foundation. Anyone making a monetary donation was treated to a piece of authentic Ukrainian candy provided by the Ukrainian family of a senior student, Milla Dobrovolska-Ivanova.

Middle School advisory groups also competed to bring in the most supplies with the final counts being so close, there will be four groups enjoying donuts in the coming week. Their schoolwide totals included 36 fleece blankets, 254 bottles of body wash, 312 packs of tissues, 136 bars of soap, 160 deodorants, as well as toothpaste, lotion, hand sanitizer, shampoo and conditioner, bandages, and more.

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