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                      2007-2008 School Year at Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian School

     Thanks to the presence of school founders Mrs. Alexandra and Dr. Joseph Kazickas, The School Year 2007-2008 opening and closing ceremonies were very special. During the school year closing ceremony, families of 33 students received envelopes with their children’s diplomas, tests, best essays and drawings. Mrs. Alexandra Kazickas awarded families with Gratitude Letters. On behalf of school founders and administration, more than 30 other members of the Lithuanian community of Eastern Long Island were awarded with gratitude letters for the support they have shown in preserving the Lithuanian language and culture outside Lithuania. Pictures were taken of the school founders Mrs. A. and Dr. J. Kazickas with the families and members of the community.

     In 2007-2008 kindergarteners learned first letters and words in Lithuanian. Older students studied the Lithuanian language, literature, history and geography. Students took part in a couple of contests organized by the Educational Council of the Lithuanian Community of US. One was a picture contest on Lithuania, another one was an essay contest on the 400th Anniversary of Siluva. As the Lithuanian newspaper “Vakarai” announced a painting/drawing contest “I am a Lithuanian” students jumped in to participate. The school was open for thirty three Saturdays consisting of four academic hours (45 minutes each).

    During the past year the School hosted many events, celebrations and trips. Such were School opening, Halloween, trip to a basketball game in Washington DC, Christmas Eve, ski trip to celebrate New Year’s, trip to NYC to watch the “Wintuk” show, Pink Ribbon Night fundraiser in support of breast cancer survivor R. Zinkeviciene, Lithuanian Independence Day February 16 with second generation Lithuanians of Long Island and Consul of Lithuania in NYC amb. J. Paslauskas as guests, mini Jazz concert for expecting moms with musicians K. Vaiginis and D.Vysniauskas, Easter, Trip to UN (to meet Lithuanian mission in UN and diplomat D.Cekuolis) and Consulate of Lithuania in NYC, Art Day “Lithuania and its legends” that consisted of morning and evening parts. The morning part for students had Painted story (by children’s books illustrators) and Musical Conversation (with Jazz band). The evening of “Painted Jazz” was conducted in celebration of 90th anniversary of Dr. J. Kazickas (artists R. Kiaulevicius, G. Jocius, R. Marcius, musicians K. Vaiginis, D. Vysniauskas, K. Krajncan, R. Pate, D. Shamat, cameraman L. Natkevicius). There were more celebrations and visits such as the one to view R. Marcius paintings in art gallery, celebration of Mother’s Day, Sports and Friendship day with Maironis Lithuanian School, Photography day. Father’s Day was celebrated during the School Year Closing. Once a month during regular School Saturdays, students celebrated Birthdays. In the beginning of summer vacation, students, accompanied by teachers went to “Splish Splash” water park in Riverhead. As soon as the school year ended, families went to visit with School Founders Mrs. A. & Dr. Kazickas in East Hampton, NY to present them with Dr. Kazickas’ 90th anniversary gift – “The Bird of Hope” painting by Gintaras Jocius created during the “Painted Jazz” or “Lithuania and its Legends” night. At the end of the summer, families went camping to Lake George in upstate New York. Over fifty Lithuanians went to see the cruise ship “Caribbean Princess” docked in Brooklyn and met Lithuanian basketball player A. Karnisovas. In summer, families with children spent Sundays on Tiana Beach (Hampton Bays) for volley ball games. Lithuanian men and youth had a soccer game with a team of Mexicans.

     The Website www.akazickasls.org was created and is being administered by Gintaute Genender. A new kindergarden teacher Rita Klimaviciene has joined the staff of Ramune Kurbanoviene (elementary school teacher), Renata Petrauskiene (Lithuanian language and literature teacher), Jolanta Vilcinskiene (geography and biology teacher) and Algirdas Vysniauskas (Lithuanian history teacher). Several music lessons were taught by music teacher Irma Dirziene. Martina Ulskiene stayed as a monitor/janitor. Daiva Matoniene replaced Gitana Albinson who had gone on maternity leave. Renata Cheshire stayed as head of the parent committee with its members: Arunas Lauzadis, Linas Smoriginas, Haroldas Kurbanovas, Algis Vadeika. The  principal of the school was Neila Baumiliene.
During the Celebration of Lithuanian Independence Day in the UN in February 2008, Neila and Giedrius Baumilas were invited and represented Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian School of Riverhead, NY. During the year, the School was in contact with KFF (Kazickas Family Foundation, Vilnius Branch), Department of National Minorities and Lithuanians Living Abroad (TMID), Vilnius University Faculty of Lithuanian Language. The School received financial support from the Educational council of the Lithuanian Community of US and Lithuanian Fund as well as financial sponsorship from KFF (Kazickas Family Foundation). During the School Year, the Administration and Mrs. & Dr. Kazickas were in constant communication.

     Thanks to Father Vyt. Volertas and piano player Laura Balnyte, on Sundays a Lithuanian Mass was celebrated in the adjacent St. John the Evangelist Parrish with A. Kazickas Lithuanian School hosting after mass coffee hours.

     Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian school families and staff are very thankful to everyone contributing and making this vision succeed. Special thanks to the following families for their time, professionalism and support: Daiva and Kestutis Jankunas, Renata and Jeff Cheshire for taking pictures on every occasion – your pictures make our gallery possible and will make history. Special thanks to Vilma Bendarinaite and Algirdas Vysniauskas for the music and tech. support at every disco night.

     The school year 2007-2008 was very colorful with beautiful artwork and essays by students, the people they met and places visited, friendships and feelings created. More than a dozen articles were published in the Lithuanian American Weekly newspaper. To those who can read Lithuanian, the articles are in the Press section on the school website.
    Neila Baumiliene
    Southampton, NY
    September 2008