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                      2008-2009 School Year at Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian School

     Every Lithuanian Saturday school is founded and operates differently thought all of them follow the rules of the Educational Council of the Lithuanian Community of US (LEC). When Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian school was founded three years ago, everything was new. A lot of things had to be learned, even more things had to be created in the first year. Thanks to very colorful events the second school year was not ordinary either. The third year marked a new beginning of academic and administrative novelties such as uniforms with logos, first graduate students, first teacher’s assistant, new certificates according to a new evaluation system and new certificates of honor.

     On June 13th, 2009 the Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian school finished its third year. Mrs. A and Dr. J. Kazickas could not participate in the ceremony due to illnesses. Dr. J. Kazickas sent his regards and wished the students and their parents a happy summer. He also invited everyone to come back to school in the fall of 2009. Dr. Kazickas thanked the parents for their effort to bring their children to school every Saturday when in fact they could find other ways to spend their free time. Dr. J. Kazickas reinstated that parents’ commitment shows love for their language and their Mother land. Later in the evening, after the ceremony, everyone stood up for a picture which eventually was made into a greeting card and presented to Mrs. A. Kazickas.

     In the 2008-2009 school year, thirty eight students attended the school. The School staff and administration members were the following: Lithuanian language and literature teacher - Renata Petrauskiene, elementary school curriculum teacher - Ramune Kurbanoviene, history teacher – Algirdas Vysniauskas, geography teacher –Jolanta  Vilcinskiene, kindergarten teacher – Rita Klimaviciene, kindergarten teacher’s assistant – Gabriele Petrauskaite,  website administrator – Gintaute Genender, treasurer – Daiva Matoniene, monitor/custodian – Martina Ulskiene, head of the parent committee – Renata Cheshire. Neila Baumiliene remained the principal of the school.

     During this year, students and members of the staff started wearing uniforms. Mrs. Rasa Mitruleviciene, mother of students Vilma and Migle had come up with an idea of introducing shirts with school logos and asked parents to find sponsors so they could advertise their business and support the school. During the parent-administration meeting, a decision was made to introduce T-shirts of the colors of the Lithuanian flag: yellow, green and red for everyday use and green polo shirts for special occasions. The school raised more than a thousand dollars just from the sponsors of the uniforms.

     The School hosted many events, parties, concerts and trips. The school year started with a trip to the cruise ship “Carribean princess” and a visit from the Lithuanian basketball star A.Karnisovas. During the year, there were the following events: Pink ribbon and Charity evening, Halloween, Christmas party, a trip to the “Nutcracker” show, a skiing trip, a basketball tournament  to commemorate events of January 13, 1991, a concert by the pop group from Lithuania “Sekmadienis”, Martina’s birthday celebration with a trip to “Gurney’s Spa”, a celebration of Easter, a camping trip to Lake George and a trip to “Bodies the Exhibit”. The Lithuanian community members have united in electing the school principal “Person of the year 2008” of the weekly American Lithuanian newspaper “Amerikos lietuvis”.

     Students took part in a couple of contests organized by LEC. One was a picture contest on M.K.Ciurlionis’s  music and paintings. An art lesson conducted by local Lithuanian artist Mrs. Rasa Valiene inspired the students and helped them to create their artwork to enter the contest. Roberta Kurbanovaite, our own student, was awarded third place among her age group of all students of the Lithuanian Schools of the US for her essay on the best qualities of Lithuanians depicted in the Lithuanian National Anthem.

     The biggest novelty for the school year closing ceremony was new certificates. They were of two kinds: one for the youngest students with the title of “Welcome to the world of the Lithuanian language”, and for the bigger ones just “Certificates”. They all had attendance hours, academic achievements, and evaluation of the knowledge of the Lithuanian Language, according to the standards of The European Community Language committee with language levels from A1 to C2.

     Certificates of Honor were also new. Kotryna Jankunaite and Aiste Furajevaite were honored for literacy, Justas Klimavicius and Smiltene Jankunaite for diligence, Vilia Baumilaite and Justas Vysniauskas for best attendance, Roberta Kurbanovaite for creativity and Justas Lauzadis for exceptional progress in Lithuanian language.

     Roberta Kurbanovaite, Gintaras Jomantas, Gabriele Petrauskaite were the first graduates of the school. They all had attended schools in Lithuania, so their knowledge of the Lithuanian language received the highest grade: level C2. Chairwoman of the parent committee Renata Cheshire surprised graduate students with graduation caps and gowns. The graduates were invited to work as volunteers in our school since there will be new students in the kindergarten class.

     During the ceremony, Mother Mary, pastor of Grace Episcopal church, which hosts the Lithuanian school, blessed everyone and wished a healthy summer and a happy return to school in September. The Lithuanian language teacher Renata Petrauskiene read poems by a renowned known Lithuanian poet Justinas Marcinkevicius wishing our graduate students best of luck in the future. Everyone sang a song “Pauksciai’ by Kostas Smoriginas. Justas Lauzadis played the song on the guitar.

     As in every celebration, as part of the tradition, a slide show was shown. Pictures of graduate students, and those of the Family sports day that took place just days prior the ceremony evoked many laughs and emotions. A rainbow of a couple hundred colored balloons decorated the hall in the background for the picture taking by volunteer photographers Daiva and Kestutis Jankunas, Renata and Jeff Cheshire and Jolanta Vilcinskiene.

AKLS extends its gratitude to James Albinson, father of Mia and Ava, who started teaching Lithuanian students in his Long Island Academy of Fine Arts (LIAFA). On September 19th, 2009 everyone is welcome for the fourth school year in the A. Kazickas Lithuanian Saturday school.

    Neila Baumiliene
    Southampton, NY
    September 2009