Ukrainian Refugee Girl Welcomed

Ukrainian Refugee Girl Welcomed By Monmouth Beach Elementary School

MONMOUTH BEACH, NJ — There’s a new student at Monmouth Beach School.

She just arrived to the United States from Ukraine and she doesn’t speak any English.

The girl’s name is Elizabeth Kryvulko. She’s 12 years old, and she just started the sixth grade this past Monday at Monmouth Beach School, said superintendent Jessica Alfone (former principal at River Plaza Elementary School in Middletown).

“Tomorrow, we will be outstretching our arms and welcoming a Ukrainian student to our school,” wrote Alfone in a letter home to parents explaining Elizabeth’s arrival. “The family arrived in the United States last week and is residing with one of our very generous families.”

Just one month ago, Elizabeth was hiding in a bomb shelter in her home city of Oleksandria in Ukraine, huddled with her grandmother and hundreds of other families and children. Her mother was in New Jersey, on a tourist visa, and Elizabeth and her grandmother were stuck back in the besieged country.
“Five to eight times a day she and her grandmother were going to the bomb shelter,” her mother told NBC’s Brian Thompson. “Sometimes she was sitting in the shower in the bathroom because they say it’s the safest place in the house.”

An adult man the family knew in Oleksandria put the girl on a train out of the city, according to NBC, beating his hands bloody until the conductor opened the door to let the girl aboard. Her mother met her at the border with Romania and from there she and her daughter traveled to America.

The mother and daughter are staying with a Monmouth Beach family, and she started sixth grade at Monmouth Elementary Monday.

The family ultimately wants to return to Ukraine when the fighting stops; they do not intend to stay in America permanently. On March 4, the United States announced that Ukrainian citizens fleeing the Russian invasion would be provided temporary protected status. Then on March 24, President Joe Biden announced that up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees would be accepted into the United States. Those refugees who have family already here would be given priority.

But for however long they will be in New Jersey, Monmouth Beach kids and their parents are doing everything they can to make Elizabeth feel at home: On her first day in the new school — in a new country — all the students and teachers wore the Ukrainian colors of blue and yellow.

“This show of solidarity and welcome will help her to see that we are so happy that she is with us — in a place of safety, comfort and compassion,” said school superintendent Alfone. “We have had so many of you organize outreach and support for the situation in Ukraine, and it speaks volumes regarding the generosity of this community and the strength of the human spirit. So we will welcome Elizabeth and her mom to our school community.”


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