Yelyzaveta finding out she won Hoop Queen

The war in Ukraine has been going on for almost a year, but it is not an event that impacts many daily lives in the Ozarks. However, for the 2023 Willow Springs Senior Hoop Queen Yelyzaveta Liedovska, the war hit close to home. This time last year Yelyzaveta (Liza) was attending school in the Ukraine and preparing for graduation. Everything changed late February, when her family was forced to flee the war. The Liedovskas were set to immigrate to the United States in the future, but the Russian invasion sped up that timeline considerably. High schools in Ukraine go to grade 11, so Liza was within months of graduating before she had to head for the Polish border. She had her future mapped out, but the college she wanted to go to was destroyed in the bombings. When the attacks got closer to her hometown, the family decided they could not wait any longer. The move to the US they had been planning for years had to happen now, under very different circumstances. They had to travel across the entire country of Ukraine, with each city they entered being under constant threats of shelling, and on to Poland. This European Union country welcomed Liza’s family for six weeks, until they finally got a call from the embassy greenlighting their move across the Atlantic. They received plane tickets, and were able to come here to stay with family members in the Willow Springs community. Her mom’s family, consisting of her aunt, uncle, cousins, and grandma, have lived here for over 30 years. She arrived in Willow Springs, Missouri on April 27th, 2022, and started school shortly after. 

When asked about the difference between schools in Ukraine and the United States, Yelyzaveta says that here the atmosphere is more relaxed, and that she enjoys the extracurricular activities. Schools there are different because students do not have many opportunities to choose their educational journey, they are given a pre-set schedule with no electives. Yelyzaveta said that the teachers here are more patient than the teachers in her home country. Prior to coming to the States Liza had already learned some English, but had not really used it, so she struggled a little while getting used to speaking and listening all the time. Yelyzaveta was surprised but thankful to be named the 2023 Willow Springs High School Hoop Queen. She would like to enroll in college in West Plains to get a degree in business, and then attend an art school. She wants to manage her own art gallery one day. Yelyzaveta Liedovska is very thankful for the amazing people of Willow Springs, and the way that they have accepted her and her family.