By Spencer Wilson

FRISCO, Colo. (CBS4) – The community of Frisco is rallying behind a young woman, hoping to help keep her in Colorado and stop her from being sent back to a country under siege. Iryna Petrovitksa came to Colorado from Ukraine in 2021, and since then she’s called the mountains her home.

(credit: CBS)

“I have a lot of friends here and they always support me and teachers too,” the high school sophomore told mountain newsroom reporter Spencer Wilson.

Her family was sending her financial support from Ukraine until Russia invaded earlier this year. Now while her family hides in neighboring Hungary, she continues her school life here but could be forced to return home now that her source of support has been cut off.

Petrovitksa goes to The Peak School and lives with a local host family. One of her teachers started an online fundraising campaign, entitled Help Ukrainian Student. It has raised $5,000 so far, but that’s only an eighth of the way to the goal.

(credit: CBS)

“The thing that keeps us up at night is the notion of what happens if we don’t get enough money to help Iryna to stay here. Her family is safe in Hungary but the financial means are still so limited and the situation is so grievous that we want to do whatever we can. The idea of her having to go back to that situation is just unthinkable, ” teacher Steven Craig said.

While speaking with CBS4, Petrovitksa kept a wide smile on her face and did her best to talk about very difficult topics, like the invasion of her homeland and her family becoming refugees of war thousands of miles away. Still, even with a brave face, tears eventually came.

“I feel a little bit guilty because I am safe because they are trying to escape,” she said of her family.

“Sometimes they send me videos from home and it is all on fire. Stuff like that,” Petrovitksa said.

The brave high school Sophomore said her best way to get through the day was to simply keep busy, and not think too hard about her daily situation.

“(I try) not to think about them and just try to make a lot of work, like school stuff or hobby, new languages or of course something with style,” she added laughing.

Her teacher was quick to add how grateful staff and students are to have Petrovitksa in school and the unshakeable positive attitude that seems to flow out of her.

“When you are talking about a situation that is thousands of miles away it can feel so difficult to help but we know that we have an amazing young person who is so full of life, so full of vitality who is right here and who needs our help right now and it personalizes it for us,” Craig explained.

“The war in Ukraine isn’t thousands of miles away for those of us at The Peak School, it is right here in our building and we know we have a kid, a young person who we all know and love dearly who needs our help.”

If you’re interested in helping this young woman, feel free to search for their online fundraiser titled “Help Ukrainian Student.”

Spencer Wilson