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ODA Family Shares Ukraine Connection

ODA Trustee, parent, and CEO of Sunrise Scholars Mr. Ken Sommers visited the Uihlein Campus this week to speak with students about the ongoing challenges faced by the Ukrainian people.
Mr. Ken Sommers entered Petrik Thunderdome this week to speak at Middle and Upper School assemblies. His goal was to give a high-level, informative overview of the history, geographical importance, and economic impact Ukraine has in the region. His visit was paired with the student body’s fundraising efforts through a dress-down day, supply drive, and participation in the RADD for Ukraine event with DreamLarge last weekend.

Mr. Sommers began by explaining his personal connection to the country; After graduating from Hamilton College in 1999, Mr. Sommers joined the Peace Corps and was stationed in Ukraine where he worked as a teacher in an orphanage. While living in Ukraine, he became immersed in Ukrainian culture and met his future wife. With many family members living in Ukraine, the Sommers family is highly connected to, and actively involved with, the relief efforts for Ukrainian refugees. 

Mr. Sommers explained the many reasons Russia is interested in Ukraine, to include its physical size and proximity, abundance of resources, and the high level of education of its workforce. He gave background on Russian/Ukrainian history, briefly touching on the Russian Pogroms, Ukraine’s failed attempt at independence in March 1917, the forced famine under Stalin’s rule in the 1930s, the Chernobyl cover up in 1986, and the capture of the Donbass and Crimea in 2014. Mr. Sommers also spoke about the strength of Ukrainian nationalism and the international response to Russia’s attack thus far.

As he wrapped up his discussion, Mr. Sommers finished by talking about how this world event raised his awareness of refugee-related issues, not only for those displaced by the situation in Ukraine, but for refugees displaced by ongoing conflicts across the globe. He encouraged students to be supportive of those who seek refuge in their communities, and to contact their local representatives to encourage their support of those displaced. Mr. Sommers also recommended that students who are interested in becoming more involved can continue support for Ukraine through the local relief effort, RADD for Ukraine. To learn more about this community organization, please visit their website.

The Out-of-Door Academy

LOWER SCHOOL |  Historic Siesta Key Campus  |  Pre-K – Grade 5
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