Giving Back

Alexandria’s Celebree School Awards Ukrainian Child Full Scholarship

Owner/Operator Mohammad Ali Inspired by recent Zebra story

Mohammad Ali, Oleh Varenytsia holding Demian, Natalia Varenytsia, Shawn Roberts and Jana Behm/photo by Celebree

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Celebree School of Alexandria has awarded the Varenytsia family a full scholarship for their four-year-old son, Demian. After reading their story in the Zebra, Owner/Operator Mohammad Ali and School Director Jana Behm were moved by the plight of the family who recently fled from Ukraine. Ali and Behm immediately decided that they would offer Demian an opportunity to go to preschool as well as learn the English language. 

As his parents Natalia and Oleh Varenytsia met with the staff on Friday, January 20th, Demian was able to visit his classroom. They were overwhelmed with joy and speechless to express their gratitude for the school’s generosity. The school will be having their official opening in late February, and Demian will be a part of the original class.

“We are sure that he will be developed here, and his life will be more colorful,” Natalie and Oleh said. “He’s very active, and he needs more and more children, he needs more toys,” which brought laughter. 

Demian plays with sand box/photo by Laura Plaia

Ali explained his story to the group, showing how strongly he feels about helping others whenever the chance arises.

“I want to thank you for giving us a source of inspiration. My parents are first-generation immigrants as well, so coming to a new place with a new language, new culture, finding jobs, having kids – I can’t imagine how stressful that is,” shared Ali. “This community is so strong because we help each other out in times of need.” 

“I know you are going to be amazingly successful here. You are already off to such an amazing start, and watch,” he told Natalie and Oleh, “in two to three years, you’re going to do the same thing for somebody else. That’s what makes our community so great.”

School Director Jana Behm pushes Demian in Cozy Coupe/photo by Laura Plaia

Celebree Day School Director Jana Behm told the family what a privilege it will be to have their son in the school.

“We want to thank you for trusting us with him. That’s huge. You are in a big country. You’re trusting us with your baby, and that is the ultimate piece of trust,” Behm said.

A Part of Celebree’s Charter Class – 

“He is in the original group. We are starting with seven to eight in the classroom,” Behm shared. “So he gets to be an ambassador, the leader to teach the new kids who come in with (questions of) ‘where’s your cubby, how do you do this?.’ So this will help him with his language skills, his social emotional development, and build  friendships and relationships on his level.”

Demian enjoying the playground at Celebree/photo by Laura Plaia

“Each child has a job at the school,” Ali said. “An electrician, line leader, chef, cook – so we will put Demian to work,” he said with a laugh. “But it’s all fun and ways to learn. It’s really exciting. You are learning but you don’t know that you are learning, because you’re learning how to play.”

“Just as much as you thank us, we want to thank you for – it is an opportunity to remind us how lucky and how blessed we are with everything that we have,” Ali concluded.

 

Oleh, Natalia, and Demian at Celebree/photo by Laura Plaia

[SEE ALSO:  Alexandria HR Lawyer Shares What You Need to Know about Employment Law]

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