What next for School no 20? Sept. 1, 2022

from The Documentary Podcast· ·

Max, Alyona, Serhiy, Oleg, Alina and Vladyslav are leaving school this year - six 17 year olds full of dreams. Serhiy plans an epic bike ride; Max pours his heart into music - and they’ve all turned up for the prom that marks their passage into adulthood. But their school, School no. 20 in Chernihiv, has been shelled badly by the Russian army, and the school leavers face a future with none of the old certainties. In the early morning of February 24th, ’My mother came in and said that the war had begun… it was unreal,’ Alyona says ‘I …



Max, Alyona, Serhiy, Oleg, Alina and Vladyslav are leaving school this year - six 17 year olds full of dreams. Serhiy plans an epic bike ride; Max pours his heart into music - and they’ve all turned up for the prom that marks their passage into adulthood. But their school, School no. 20 in Chernihiv, has been shelled badly by the Russian army, and the school leavers face a future with none of the old certainties. In the early morning of February 24th, ’My mother came in and said that the war had begun… it was unreal,’ Alyona says ‘I just went back to bed thinking it was cool that I didn't have to go to school and could sleep in. And then, when I finally realised… it was as if someone took the ground from under your feet, and now you’re kind of weightless.’ Alina tells us of the weeks she spent in the cellar, sleeping on a shelf meant for jam and trying to revise by candle light. When the fighting died down, she made her way across her bombed city to charge her phone at a special park bench fitted with solar panels. All six have found themselves changed forever by the last few months. They are thinking deeply about what will happen next. Vlad is still planning to study IT, but who knows? ‘If my country needs me, then so be it. I’ll serve in the army.’ Yet despite it all, they are teenagers still. Toffee popcorn, model dragons, and dresses all feature in a documentary full of life. The teenagers plan to stay in touch with one another in the years to come, even if their lives are scattered. And Assignment plans to stay in touch with them too. Alyona reaches out in this first episode to other teens in Ukraine and the wider world. ‘I want to say to all the people who are safe - don’t feel bad about it. It’s fine that you can eat, or smile, or just go for a walk and enjoy your life in peace. You must live your life!’ With special thanks to Vladyslav Savenok and the staff and pupils at School no. 20, Chernihiv. Presenter: Olga Betko Producer: Monica Whitlock Editor: Penny Murphy Studio Managers: James Beard and Graham Puddifoot Production Coordinator: Gemma Ashman (Image: Leavers from School no 20, Chernihiv, Ukraine. Credit: Vladyslav Savenok)