HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WSAV) – A chance at a better education and better life.

That’s why two Ukrainian students have come thousands of miles to Hilton Head Island.

Tykon and Petrov got applause as they were introduced to their new classmates at Heritage Academy on Wednesday.

“It’s hard to think about leaving your entire family behind,” said Amanda O’Nan, Heritage Principal. “Not knowing when you will see them, see your home country again. the idea of it all brought me to tears.”

They were brought to the private Hilton Head school after fleeing Kyiv for Poland when the bombing continued.

“I woke up at 5 to the sound of some explosions,” remembered Tykon. “It was scary. Everything was closed, everyone was in a panic.”

Heritage Academy Principal Amanda O’Nan came up with the idea while watching the footage from inside the country.

Why not try to help some of the teens who have it hard enough already?

“We want the Ukrainian students to have that family feeling,” said O’Nan. “That they are embraced and taken care of. The whole child, not just math, science and social studies. We want them to learn we love them. No matter what is going on back home we will pick them up and take care of them.”

At the same time, giving her current teens a life lesson.

“This is history in the making,” said O’Nan. “They have a counterpart they can learn from. Maybe they can pick up the language or maybe this will inspire them to be a diplomat or might inspire them to go into government or become a missionary.”

Some of the current Heritage students say they believe everyone benefits from having the boys here.

“I’m excited Ms. O’Nan stepped up to do this. Being able to bring them here because of the variety of kids we already have I think it will be easier for them to fit in also,” said Caroline O’Brien.

“I think it’s cool that we got to bring them out and make an opportunity for them,” said Anna Lunsford. “Not to forget about it because you can’t forget about something like that but distract them for a while.”

This opportunity to live and learn what these refugees believe is life-changing.

“It’s a nice play to study and live. there are many interesting things here. I am just really thankful for this opportunity,” said Tykon.

“I am very thankful to America,” said Petrov. “To Amanda. That they brought us to a safe place.”

“What do you hope they get out of this?”
“An education. But most importantly that no matter where they are from that we love them.”

The teens were brought to Hilton Head through generosity and donations from the community. they are living with a local family and are being immersed in American culture.

They have already gone to McDonald’s to “eat their weight in burgers”.

While the outpouring of support has been great, the teens still don’t have much. They traveled with only one bag of clothes, all they had after fleeing Ukraine. And they don’t have their own money for food and other needs.

If you would like to help with a donation of new clothes, a gift card for fast food or another restaurant, or anything else, You can drop anything off at Heritage Academy on New Orleans Road. Or you can call the school to make arrangements.