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                      2011-2012 School Year at Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian School

     On June 6th, 2012, the sixth school year closing ceremony started with the Lithuanian Anthem and a prayer for Mrs. Alexandra Kazickas’s soul and for the wellbeing of Dr. Joseph P. Kazickas. It had been almost a year since the school founder Mrs. Alexandra Kazickas passed away on her 91st birthday on June 17th, 2011. Dr. J. P. Kazickas, not strong enough to come to the ceremony, sent a letter which read: “The founder of the school passed away but the beautiful idea is here and the seed has been sown. We can rejoice at the look of the fruit now. We see this small beautiful Heritage school in the Lithuanian community where with love and diligence work is done for the preservation of the Lithuanian language, identity and culture. On behalf of my family and in memory of Mrs. A. Kazickas, I thank teachers and administrators, and especially parents for their attention and love for their children and their Lithuanian Heritage. In 2012, Kazickas Family Foundation started supporting more Lithuanian Heritage schools in the US with the Alexandra Kazickas Grant Program, and the Kazickas family is broadening their horizons while watching these schools work. It’s a very important work of a national scale…”

     The school year closing ceremony was conducted in Our Redeemer Lutheran Church and School in Aquebogue, NY. This was where just a week after the school year opening celebration still in the Grace Episcopal Church AKLS relocated in September of 2011. After five years with the Grace Church the school outgrew the space. At the closing ceremony, 28 students received envelopes with diplomas, tests, best essays and drawings. Thirty three letters of Honor in seven different categories were awarded. Those categories were: for creativity, diligence, exceptional progress, literacy, best attendance, special interest in Lithuanian History. The school had three graduates: Patricija Naskauskaite, Gabriele Vadeikaite and Migle Mitruleviciute. Nine year old Grantas Naskauskas also received a special certificate since he was moving to England with his parents. His beautiful essay “Wind in the Classroom” was read out loud and greeted with smiles and laughter. Ceremony guests were Mrs. Gina Inkratiene, director of Vaiva Vebraite Lithuanian Heritage school of Connecticut and Mrs. Sigute Simkuviene, Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Lithuanian Community of the United States. Mrs. Simkuviene was able to convince Mrs. Rasa Mitruleviciene to became a leader of the Lithuanian Community of Eastern Long Island. After the school ceremony, in a meeting, an official Lithuanian Community of Eastern Long Island was born which became #61 Lithuanian Community of the US.

     In 2011-2012 kindergarteners learned first letters and words in Lithuanian. Older students studied Lithuanian language, literature, history and geography. Students took part in a couple of contests organized by Educational Council of Lithuanian Community of US. The picture contest theme was to create a postage stamp on the Lithuanian Folk Dance Festival in Boston in 2012. The essay contest celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth of a renowned Lithuanian poet Maironis. Students were asked to either describe the poet’s works or to create poems on Maironis’s themes. Eventually, among all the participants of 36 Lithuanian Heritages schools of the US, AKLS student eleven year old Lukas Budrys won first place in his age category for the stamp and fifteen year old Patricija Naskauskaite won first place in her age category for her poem “Lithuania.”

     As the Lithuanian Foundation of Chicago, Illinois was celebrating its 50th anniversary, AKLS participated in a contest “Lithuania you are mine”. The school principal wrote an essay and the whole school pooled in to make a poster. The poster represented a contour of Lithuania with hearts as dots marking towns and villages where the AKLS people were from. Hand prints and signed names filled out the space of the poster around Lithuania. Hand prints were traced and signed by the Kazickas family members, AKLS students, teachers, staff and some parents. The poster was made by AKLS graphic designer Gintaute Genender and sent to the Lithuanian Foundation in Chicago, Kazickas Family Foundation office in Vilnius and New York, and the Museum of Lithuanian Heritage schools in Lietuviu Namai in Vilnius, Lithuania.

     During the school year AKLS hosted many events, celebrations and trips. Such were the School opening at Atlantis, Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center, a trip to the Pumpkin Town, Halloween, Operation Christmas Child, Christmas Eve, Mardi Gras, Lithuanian Independence Day on February 16, Easter, Mother’s Day morning, School Year Closing. Trip to Pumpkin Town became a tradition with outdoor games on the field, picnics, hay rides and small lessons about farming and the fall season. Halloween and Christmas were big fundraisers. The Christmas Eve performance theme was a traditional story “Seven little goats” with a different ending. Lithuanian Independence Day was celebrated with special attention to the Baltic Way of 1989. Every Lithuanian School was asked to imitate the Baltic Way, film it and send the video for the construction of the Baltic way of the schools. Operation Christmas Child 2011 was AKLS’s fourth time to make gifts for the children in the world in shoe boxes. In February, AKLS students got a lesson in Astronomy in a portable dome by a teacher of Our Redeemer Lutheran School. Once a month during regular School Saturdays, students celebrated Birthdays. At the end of the school year, the Parent committee held two yard sales and raised enough money to promise the students a trip to “ Six Flags” in New Jersey in the fall of 2012. Some families went camping to Lake George in upstate New York. In summer, families with children spent Sundays on Tiana Beach (Hampton Bays) for volley ball games.

     The school was open for thirty three Saturdays consisting of four academic hours (45 minutes each). A group of eight students also had French class before school hours. The website www.akazickasls.org was administered by Gintaute Genender. The kindergarden teacher Rita Klimaviciene was joined by an assistant, former AKLS graduate Austeja Petrauskaite. Music teacher Irma Dirzius joined the faculty 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). Daiva Matoniene was the treasurer. Snieguole Furajeviene was the head of the parent committee. The principal of the school was Neila Baumiliene.

     Thanks to Father Vyt. Volertas, on Sundays Lithuanian Mass was celebrated in the adjacent St. John the Evangelist Parrish with A. Kazickas Lithuanian School hosting after mass coffee hours. Two AKLS children Grantas Naskauskas, Lukas Baumilas and another Lithuanian girl Eva had their First Communion in the Transfiguration Roman Catholic Church in Maspeth, NY in 2011.

     Special thanks to the Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian school families, staff and friends for their in-kind contributions: Daiva and Kestutis Jankunas, Renata and Jeff Cheshire, Snieguole Furajeviene and Jolanta Vilcinskiene for taking pictures on every occasion, Vilma Bendarinaite and Algirdas Vysniauskas for the music and technical support on disco nights. Gratitude to Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering Rimas Vaicaitis of Columbia Univeristy who came to school every Saturday to spend time with students and faculty.

     To express gratitude, during the school year closing ceremony, AKLS Lithuanian language teacher Renata Petrauskiene cited Lithuanian poet J. Marcinkevicius “There are too few words of truth, love and gratitude said to each other. We so often part without saying thank you.” Renata also cited American writer Oliver Wendell Holmes: “Every language is a temple, in which the soul of those who speak it is enshrined.” With Renata’s choice of quotes, AKLS thanks everyone contributing and making the mission of preservation of the Lithuanian language a success. Special thanks to Dr. Joseph P. Kazickas, his daughter Jurate, sons Joseph, Michael and John, their families for continuous financial support and their friends who after, Mrs. Alexandra Kazickas’s passing, made contributions to the school.

    Neila Baumiliene
    Southampton, NY
    March, 2013