Ukrainian teenage refugee connects with classmates in Colorado through music:


Ukrainian teen living in Westminster connects with Arvada classmates through piano

Westminster-based Ukrainian teen Timofey Sarotyn connects with classmates in Arvada through piano


When 13-year-old Ukrainian refugee Timofey Salomatin enrolled at Tennyson Knowles Preparatory School in Arvada, he spoke no English and his classmates didn’t speak Russian, so the kids used Google Translate to communicate. was doing. When other students asked Mr. Timofey what he liked to do, Mr. Timofey replied that he played the piano, so the curious students begged their teacher to let them play the piano. bottom.

Tricia Corneau is a culturally and linguistically diverse education professional at Tennyson Knolls. She didn’t know what to expect when Mr. Timofey sat down at the old piano in the school’s music room in Colorado and played.

“It was like an American Idol audition when Timofey started playing,” Corneau said. “All the students had their jaws on the floor and everyone was clapping in unison, clapping their hands and cheering. Some were even crying.”

Since that day, Timofey’s skill has become legendary. He also played in a recent high school event called ‘Celebration Excellence’ at Westminster School.

Timofey Salomatin


“They had never heard anything so beautiful, and neither had I,” said Cornot.

His mother, Ella Saromatina, would agree.

“There is a saying in Russian that genius is 99% hard work and 1% talent.” I did,” Saromatina said in Russian.

Timofey attended a music school in Ukraine and has been learning piano for seven years. All of his siblings play instruments, but his mother says he is the most talented.

“That’s my dream,” Timofi said in Russian. “I would like to pursue a career in this field as a pianist.”

It’s a talent he’s cultivated despite a lot of adversity.

“This war left its mark on all of us. We saw it with our own eyes, we heard the shells exploding, we all survived this war, our children survived,” he said. Saromatina said.

Ella Saromatina


In 2014, Timofey, his parents and four brothers fled their home in the Donetsk region of Ukraine to other parts of the country. But in 2022, war follows them.

“We were bombarded where we lived and it was very scary. The children were very scared,” said Saromatina. “We fled from a house to the basement to hide from the shells, and God put a wall over us. We were all unharmed and nothing happened to us.”

They relocated to western Ukraine and lived there last year, but the danger persisted.

Eventually, in late March, they moved to Colorado to live with relatives, leaving one family member behind.

“My eldest son, Andrei, is still in Ukraine. There is a war in Ukraine and men aged 18 to 60 cannot leave the country,” Saromatina said.

As the war escalates, the chances of families returning home become less likely.

“Some time ago there was an explosion in the village where we lived and our house was badly damaged. So far we don’t see a way back. said.

Now they are adjusting to life in Colorado. Saromatina said the community is welcoming and the children love the school. They also made friends with other Ukrainian refugees in the area.

“We are grateful to the country of America. America has helped Ukraine a lot in this war. We are grateful to the school and to our favorite teacher. She gave us a lot of time.” You gave it to me, thank you!” said Salomatina, expressing her gratitude to Corneau.

Tricia Corneau, Education Specialist at Tennyson Knolls Preparatory School


“He is a really motivated student. He is passionate about learning and music and is a great inspiration to our students and staff,” said Corneau.

Timifi makes friends and learns English while telling his story through music.

“Music is a universal language and he has proven it,” said Cornot.

The school does not have a music program and Timofey’s relatives do not have a piano. Instead, the family practices on an electronic keyboard borrowed from the church and takes lessons remotely from a Ukrainian music teacher.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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