School No 58 in Donetsk bears the scars of war – as do its pupils and teachers. We followed them for a year.
Published in Al Jazeera and Bergens Tidende.

Donetsk, eastern Ukraine – It is Wednesday, May 4, 2016, and five grade 11 boys run gleefully on to the football field next to the school. In their right hand, they each carry a gun, in their left, a hand grenade.

It is the last period and the older pupils have a class in defence, patriotism and discipline. The guns they are using today are made of wood, but later they will practise with the real thing. At School No 58, the war is no game of pretend.

“Maybe the classes will inspire them to join the army when they graduate,” says teacher Alexey Ivanov.

He nods towards the teenage boys. They have swapped their school uniforms for camouflage print T-shirts.

One of the boys butts his weapon against his classmate’s. Another has picked a dandelion and placed it in the muzzle of his rifle.

“Act your age, boys. Fall in line,” says Alexey.

It's monday 4th of May 2015, the teachers of the school met to clean up broken glass. The day before it was heavy shelling in Kievskaja. No one was killed in the attack, according to the OSCE. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

It’s monday 4th of May 2015, the teachers of the school met to clean up broken glass. The day before it was heavy shelling in Kievskaja. No one was killed in the attack, according to the OSCE.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien

It's monday 4th of May 2015, the teachers of the school met to clean up broken glass. The day before it was heavy shelling in Kievskaja. No one was killed in the attack, according to the OSCE. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

It’s monday 4th of May 2015, the teachers of the school met to clean up broken glass. The day before it was heavy shelling in Kievskaja. No one was killed in the attack, according to the OSCE.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien

It is a recess at school number 58. Since the school is located in Kievskaja which is a few kilometers from the front line, the school has been exposed to shelling. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

It is a recess at school number 58. Since the school is located in Kievskaja which is a few kilometers from the front line, the school has been exposed to shelling.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Outdoor school lesson on the 4th of May. Since the school is located in Kievskaja which is a few kilometers from the front line, the school has been subjected to shelling since the war in eastern Ukraine broke out in spring 2014. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Outdoor school lesson on the 4th of May. Since the school is located in Kievskaja which is a few kilometers from the front line, the school has been subjected to shelling since the war in eastern Ukraine broke out in spring 2014.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Parts of the neighborhood near school number 58 is bombed and destroyed when we visited it in December 2015. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Parts of the neighborhood near school number 58 is bombed and destroyed when we visited it in December 2015.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Christmas at school number 58. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Christmas at school number 58.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Diana lives with her family in Makeevka, on the outskirts of Donetsk. Here both roads and streetlights have seen better days. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Diana lives with her family in Makeevka, on the outskirts of Donetsk. Here both roads and streetlights have seen better days.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Veterans Day is celebrated on 4th of May 2016 at school number 58.  Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Veterans Day is celebrated on 4th of May 2016 at school number 58.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Militarytraining for kids on the 4th of May 2016 at school number 58. They learn to take on the gas mask, throw grenades and use of weapons, although these weapons are only copies. Since the school is located in Kievskaja which is a few kilometers from the front line, the school has been subjected to shelling since the war in eastern Ukraine broke out in spring 2014. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Militarytraining for kids on the 4th of May 2016 at school number 58. They learn to take on the gas mask, throw grenades and use of weapons, although these weapons are only copies. Since the school is located in Kievskaja which is a few kilometers from the front line, the school has been subjected to shelling since the war in eastern Ukraine broke out in spring 2014.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Militarytraining for kids on the 4th of May 2016 at school number 58. They learn to take on the gas mask, throw grenades and use of weapons, although these weapons are only copies. Since the school is located in Kievskaja which is a few kilometers from the front line, the school has been subjected to shelling since the war in eastern Ukraine broke out in spring 2014. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Militarytraining for kids on the 4th of May 2016 at school number 58. They learn to take on the gas mask, throw grenades and use of weapons, although these weapons are only copies. Since the school is located in Kievskaja which is a few kilometers from the front line, the school has been subjected to shelling since the war in eastern Ukraine broke out in spring 2014.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Militarytraining for kids on the 4th of May 2016 at school number 58. They learn to take on the gas mask, throw grenades and use of weapons, although these weapons are only copies. Since the school is located in Kievskaja which is a few kilometers from the front line, the school has been subjected to shelling since the war in eastern Ukraine broke out in spring 2014. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Militarytraining for kids on the 4th of May 2016 at school number 58. They learn to take on the gas mask, throw grenades and use of weapons, although these weapons are only copies. Since the school is located in Kievskaja which is a few kilometers from the front line, the school has been subjected to shelling since the war in eastern Ukraine broke out in spring 2014.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Militarytraining for kids on the 4th of May 2016 at school number 58. They learn to take on the gas mask, throw grenades and use of weapons, although these weapons are only copies. Since the school is located in Kievskaja which is a few kilometers from the front line, the school has been subjected to shelling since the war in eastern Ukraine broke out in spring 2014. Photo by: Kyrre Lien

Militarytraining for kids on the 4th of May 2016 at school number 58. They learn to take on the gas mask, throw grenades and use of weapons, although these weapons are only copies. Since the school is located in Kievskaja which is a few kilometers from the front line, the school has been subjected to shelling since the war in eastern Ukraine broke out in spring 2014.
Photo by: Kyrre Lien