17 August 2023
Ukrainian twin sisters are among those celebrating top A level grades at Harrogate Ladies’ College despite ongoing fears for the safety of their family and friends in Ukraine.
Diana and Sofiia Shypovych from Cherkasy in Central Ukraine achieved A*A*A* and A*A*A respectively in their A levels.
Not knowing what lay ahead for their country, the sisters joined Harrogate Ladies’ College in September 2021 to study for their A levels. Leaving their parents behind in Ukraine they joined the school as boarding pupils and were looking forward to their new adventure. But just a few months later Ukraine was invaded and they found themselves physically isolated from their parents, unable to return home and studying for their A levels amidst ongoing fears for the safety of their family, their friends and the future of their country.
Sofiia, who alongside her sister, ran campaigns in Harrogate to fundraise for Ukrainians and helped Ukrainian families on the Homes for Ukraine scheme settle into the community, said she was delighted with her results.
“I am so happy about my results – and I am so grateful to my school for supporting me through the last two years. It was difficult being away from my family, but school actively promotes inclusion, diversity and being yourself. That really helped me,” she said.
Diana added: “University will be our next exciting chapter. Despite everything that has been happening in Ukraine, school has given me and my sister the confidence to mature into independent adults through the opportunities, challenges and freedoms it has offered. Living at school showed us the importance of contributing to the community and respecting our shared responsibilities.”
Both sisters were voted by their fellow pupils and teachers to be Prefects at the School during their time in Sixth Form.
Principal of Harrogate Ladies’ College Sylvia Brett paid tribute to the sisters’ hard-working ethos and commitment to school life against the backdrop of war in their home country.
“We’re incredibly proud of all of our pupils, but Sofiia and Diana deserve special recognition for the circumstances under which they’ve been studying for the last 2 years. Being here at the time of the outbreak of the war and knowing their family and friends were facing real dangers, was extraordinarily hard for the girls but they never lost focus on their studies or their optimism for the future. They made sure they played a full and active role in school despite their own personal circumstances.
“They are truly remarkable young women who always looked out for others in school and organised events such as the Ukraine Cultural Day to help us all understand and support their country.”
The sisters chose to return to Ukraine after graduating from the school earlier in the summer to await their results and to be reunited with their family and friends.
Speaking from Ukraine, the girls’ mother Iana Shypovych said she was thrilled by their results.
“When our then 16-year old daughters left Ukraine to study in Harrogate we were a little worried about how they would adapt to living so far away from home, but our concerns never came true. When the war broke out we were truly grateful that they were safe and being cared for. They were so warmly welcomed and supported by the school staff and the people of Harrogate.”
The school achieved 41% A*-A grades across the board and 17% increase on the comparable figures from 2019.