Students Saddened by Russian-Ukrainian Conflict

On the morning of Feb. 24, Harvard Westlake (HW) students joined billions across the globe in their shock at the violent war erupting between Russia and Ukraine. HW as a school was quick to react, with some history teachers explaining and breaking down both the conflict and the history behind it to their classes, while the administration shortly after began weekly meetings to console concerned faculty and students alike on a conflict whose scale has not been seen since the Second World War.

Meanwhile, students began to take action, with many turning to social media to both condemn the violence and express sympathy for those affected by the conflict. Some also expressed concern for the men and women in uniform.

“The sad fact of the situation is, that even if [the fall of Ukraine] does occur, tons of civilians, Ukrainian soldiers, and Russian soldiers, many of which are young conscripts and reluctant to fight, will perish in the battles over the future of Ukraine.” Avery Kim ’25 said.

Others began to use their leadership positions to look for ways they could help the citizens of Ukraine, such as through clubs at the middle school.

“As a co-leader of the human rights club, I am worried for the citizens living in Ukraine. The situation is very unsafe for them due to the bombings and is putting lives in jeopardy.” Sarah Parmet ’25 said.

The human rights club is a club at HW that does fundraisers, such as selling cookies to support women’s education in Afghanistan and is now planning a fundraiser to support Ukrainian refugees.

The violence though has also had an impact at home, with certain students expressing worry about further conflict. 

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already caused a geopolitical crisis and threatens to get worse at every moment,” Avery said. “Putin’s Kremlin has increasingly become more aggressive, with the Russo-Georgian 2008 conflict, the 2014 annexation of Crimea, and the Donbas War. If Putin succeeds in replacing the Pro-Western Ukrainian government with a Pro-Russian one with minimal drawbacks, it may only embolden him to take even brasher actions.”

This prompted HW middle school psychologist Kelly Decker to give some tips on how to identify stress or anxiety students may be experiencing due to the conflict.

“Stress becomes a problem when we start having trouble falling asleep, when it starts affecting your appetite, if you start having trouble focusing or you have trouble shifting your attention away from [the conflict].” Dr. Decker said.