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A Ukrainian photographer has published a series of graduation photographs taken this month of young Ukrainians posing amid the rubble of war in the eastern city of Chernihiv.

In them, Ukrainian high-schoolers pose, sashes and all, against the backdrop of bombed-out buildings — highlighting what photographer Stanislav Senyk called the “surrealism” of daily life during wartime.

Senyk told Reuters in an interview Sunday that he had been planning to travel to Chernihiv when he realized he could “write a very important story … about schoolchildren who were graduating and who had witnessed the war,” and whose graduation ceremonies and proms had been canceled due to the war.

The photos were taken in different parts of the city — highlighting how “Chernihiv is pretty much ruined [throughout],” Senyk said.

One student who was photographed as part of Senyk’s project said she and her classmates “really liked” the experience but found it “emotionally difficult.”

“I want to emphasize the fact that we didn’t rejoice in the ruins; it was very difficult for us,” Olha Babynets, 17, told Reuters. “And it wasn’t that we had just accepted and said: ‘Well, let this Epicentr [referring to the destroyed shop building] stand.’ No, we wanted to show our pain, which is there and has never subsided.”

Senyk said the children and their teacher appeared to have gotten used to the destruction around them. One handed him some bullets as they posed for photos atop a tank.

“It was like some kind of surrealism going on,” he added. “Because they were no longer impressed by those ruined buildings. It was as if they had already experienced it and had become stronger.”

About 40 children took part in the project, which Senyk said he hopes to sell to raise money for Ukraine’s military. He told Reuters he plans to give the photos to the schoolchildren as part of a graduation album.

“And 10 to 15 years from now, when they have their own children, they can show those pictures to them,” he said.