By Denise Bacon

Soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, Madam Goretti opened the topic about the war with the 20 students in her Grade 5 class. At the start of that conversation, she had no idea  what a strong impact this would have on the students. They became highly engaged and empathetic towards the plight of Ukrainians. “The people did nothing to deserve this war,” lamented Aaden. Manne “wanted to do something to help the people of Ukraine.’

Alexandra, Barbara, Kalia and Mattéa from this class got together virtually over March Break to brainstorm ideas about what the class could do to help. The girls came back to school after the holiday and presented 12 ideas to the rest of the class. The students chose two of the ideas that have evolved into two projects in which each of them is fully involved to raise money for Ukraine.

The first project is an art auction. Joanna said, “We’re painting things we think about regarding the war.”  Each student has created a unique piece of art that tells a story about what this war represents to them. Joey’s painting of a cross represents joy and peace to him. Each piece of art is accompanied by a short write up by the artist. Parents rallied around their children for this project and contributed canvasses and painting supplies.

The students’ art will be on display at the school for parents and community members to view. A silent auction format is set up for bids to be made for each piece.

The students were effusive about their second project, too. Each student has painted a representation of a country and has written about it. All these paintings and write-ups will be bound together into a colourful hardcover coffee-table book titled “Voyage autour du monde” (Trip Around the World). Copies of this book will be for sale at the school.

All proceeds from the art auction and book sales will be donated to ACN Canada – Help for Ukraine.

Liam, one of the Grade 5 students, wanted to “raise money for Ukraine by gathering the community.” Principal Caroline Sodhi especially invites community members to visit the school to see the art and to contribute to the projects by bidding on a piece of art, buying a book or making a donation. Tax receipts will be issued by ACN Canada for donations made through the school.

The art and the books will be on display at an Open House at St-Michel French Catholic Elementary School at 29 Meadowvale Rd. on Tuesday, May 3, at 5:30 p.m. and during school hours up to May 10.