From kindergarten through high school, students and families undertook a variety of educational and fundraising efforts
Across the Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton (SHS) campus this past semester, awareness was raised about the war in Ukraine through a range of hands-on projects that built community. Below is a round-up of several of these efforts, from the kindergarten through high school.
Letters of Hope
SHS P-5 counselor Jeanne Loveland spends time in each kindergarten classroom engaging in weekly social-emotional learning sessions. Since Martin Luther King Jr. Day, together the students and Loveland turned their attention to acts of kindness; when the war in Ukraine broke out, she knew many of the children may have seen troubling images on the news or other media.
“I pivoted my planned lesson to [talk about] the war in a way that was age-appropriate and simple to understand,” said Loveland. “Kids this age are very concrete,” she added, so she spent time clearing up misconceptions, and teaching children where Ukraine and Russia are located. “After we talked about their worries… we brainstormed together what we could do to help.”
The idea of sending letters to Ukrainian refugees was originated, and the children each spent time writing a letter with messages of peace and colorful drawings. When students came up with additional solutions such as sending funds or food, Loveland gave each student a dollar to include in the envelope.
“The idea is that we all do better when we can ‘do something’—the letters and taping a dollar on each one gave students a ‘do something’ to help Ukrainians,” said Loveland, who later sent the mail through the organization Letters of Hope for Ukraine.
Flowers for Ukraine
At the family barbecue celebration held at the eighth grade girls’ annual flag football game—the “Campbell Cup”—SHS parent Gabriela Hallum and her daughter, Emily, launched a successful “flowers for Ukraine” fundraiser, making dozens of beautiful floral arrangements for parents to purchase; each featured an informational card with original artwork on the front designed by middle school art teacher Lauren DiCioccio. The total of $1,300 funds raised went to a grassroots organization, Vita History Foundation, that aids in the transportation of refugees and supplies.
Another fundraiser earlier in the semester, a bake sale led by a small group of middle school students along with middle school counselor Kristen Marcant, raised nearly $1,500 for the organization Save the Children, which provides emergency aid during war and other conflicts.
For Hallum’s fundraiser, the family’s Polish roots spurred them to action. Hallum, whose mother and sister are still living two hours from the Ukraine border, is very involved in war relief efforts and speaks with her family every day. It was during one of those calls that she learned her family had met a truck driver from Vita History Foundation helping shuttle supplies to Ukrainians, and immediately became involved.
“Often when we donate money to [organizations] it disappears, but with this organization, you can see reports on a weekly basis and understand how the money is being used. It’s making a huge impact,” said Hallum.
“I was really touched how many parents came to me and talked about what is going on in Europe,” she added. “None of the parents knew about the fundraiser until the picnic. It’s thanks to their generous hearts our fundraiser was a huge success.”
Her daughter, rising ninth grader Emily Hallum, agreed. “My mom and I realized how many people were willing to help—we’re really thankful. It felt like the first time in a long while that I was able to do something I was passionate about and help people close to my home [in Poland].”
She spoke about her recent eighth grade graduation, and how the celebration made her think about children her own age missing out on milestones, and much more.
“[A family friends’] father lives in one of Ukraine’s eastern cities—he said people were taking trains to escape but then the railroads were bombed. I realized how dire the situation is and how quickly they need to escape. People my age had graduation, and there was a video showing how few people were left and how destroyed their schools were. It left me recognizing how stressful their lives are and how grateful I am for peaceful times.”
SHP Temporary Tape Murals
Sacred Heart Preparatory (SHP) art students in now-retired Peggy O’Leary’s art classes created large-scale, temporary “tape murals” in recognition of “the millions of displaced Ukrainians” on the walls of the Campbell Center lobby. The project spanned several walls and crawled around corners into the corridors as students, faculty, and staff were all invited to take part.
“Drawing with tape” is an innovative way to achieve an outcome similar to a line drawing, with tons of texture, said O’Leary. Crafting their artwork in hues of green and blue painter’s tape, participants used resource images from the war that O’Leary had printed out, but the process itself was done entirely freehand—no pre-sketching was involved. The tape can be ripped, pinched, pulled, and manipulated into various widths, or unraveled from the spool directly onto the wall to create fluid, continuous lines.
This was the third tape mural displayed in the past several years in the Campbell Center; the first was installed in November 2019 to honor the victims of the Saugus High School shooting in Santa Clarita, and the second in early 2020 to address the Australian fires and resulting environmental and animal-welfare crisis.
“As a class we felt it was imperative to address and face such crises as they were unfolding,” said O’Leary.
“My message to students is that they have the power and skills to make statements through art about any issue, using any media. I appreciate their willingness to help bring this particular message to Sacred Heart in such an impactful way,” she said.