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Teenager returns to ruined Ukrainian school in prom dress she never got to wear

A teenager was pictured among the school ruins that were destroyed by the war in Ukraine. She is wearing the ballgown she would have worn to her prom ceremony.

Anna Episheva from Toronto, Canada posted the photo of her 16 year-old niece. She said that she studied at School134 in Kharkiv prior to the invasion by Russia.

Valerie, a student, said that she was looking forward to graduation and had been working with friends to prepare for it.

Ms. Episheva’s Facebook account quotes Valerie saying: “… I am 16 years old… I was a student at school 134 in Kharkiv… made many friends through school. We were all like one large family.

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“With the girls, we were picking out dresses and were thrilled that everyone would look great on prom day. We were excited to see the girls choose their dresses and be a part of this special day. But then, ‘Rysskiy World came along and destroyed all our dreams!

Ms. Episheva wrote in a caption to Monday’s photo: “My niece was supposed be graduating this year from her highschool. Her friends and she planned the graduation, purchased dresses and looked forward to the big day.

“Then came the Russians. Her school was hit directly and destroyed in 2022, on February 27th.

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“Today, she returned to her school and her plans for graduation. My dear Valerie, thank you for being so strong and brave. I am so proud of and love you so very much. Ukraine, glory!

She asked people to draw attention to the damage done to Kharkiv’s school and claimed that the photograph was taken by Valerie’s mother. She doesn’t know who Valerie is.

Kharkiv was Ukraine’s second-largest city. It was located close to the Russian border and was therefore attacked during the first days of war.

Image: This is a picture of a school in Kharkiv, taken 2 June. It was a primary school. Russians are believed to have destroyed it. Pic by AP

It was under heavy fire in the initial months, but it was not taken by Russian forces. According to the UK Ministry of Defence a counter attack by Ukraine was launched so that Russian units were largely out of the country by mid-May.

It is now calmer than between February and April. However, air and missile attacks have continued so that one person was killed on Tuesday and three others were injured, Ihor Terekhov, the local mayor, stated on television.

According to Mr Terekhov, Russia “doesn’t leave Kharkiv alone” and “continually keeps people in fear”.

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