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2013-2014 School Year at Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian School

     The eighth school year started in Red Creek park (Hampton Bays, NY) with a visit from Dr. Joseph P. Kazickas, his son Michael, Consul General of the Republic of Lithuania to New York Valdemaras Sarapinas and his spouse Vyte, Columbia University professor emeritus Rimas Vaicaitis, Kazickas Family Foundation NY bureau administrator Mrs. Elena Naujikiene and Mrs. Rasa Mitruleviciene, chair of the Lithuanian Community of the East End of Long Island. In his congratulatory speech Dr.Kazickas said: “I would like you to understand that it’s an honor for you to be students of this Lithuanian school. All of us can be proud to be Lithuanians, to have this chance to improve our Lithuanian, to speak more fluent, to write better in Lithuanian, to get to know history and geography of Lithuania, and most of all you have a chance to bond, to have these close ties that only emigrants can understand and value. And I hope that this feeling for each other and for your Motherland, feeling of friendship and love will grow into pride for this school that you have a chance to attend.” Addressing parents, Dr. Kazickas said: “With lots of sacrifice, you bring your off springs here to this school so they could learn from the honorable teachers, so they could communicate with each other, so they could feel and develop their love for our parents, their grandparents Homeland. I hope you’ll find time to thank Lord for giving you this gift of preserving your Lithuanian roots, when you come to your beloved Lithuania.” Dr. Kazickas was presented with an oak wreath and a popular Lithuanian song about an Oak, Lithuanian tree, symbol of strength. After the official part, with speeches by Michael Kazickas, Consul Sarapinas, and a picture, school principal Neila Baumiliene invited students, faculty and parents to a Family sports day events.

     The eighth school year started with 27 students attending and 10 adults on staff. The School staff and administration members were the following: Lithuanian language and literature teacher- Renata Petrauskiene, elementary school curriculum teacher - Ramune Kurbanoviene, geography teacher - Jolanta Vilcinskiene, kindergarten teacher - Rita Klimaviciene, music teacher - Irma Dirzius, website administrator - Gintaute Genender, treasurer - Daiva Matoniene, the assistant Principal - Snieguole Furajeviene. For the second year the school did not have a history teacher. Neila Baumiliene remained the principal of the school and taught a class “Nowadays Lithuania“, mainly using video equipment and computers for the interactive lessons on Lithuanian history, culture, geography and integrating technology for language educational games and exercises. Soon into the school year, three Pre-K students joined the school, making the total of 30 students. AKLS operated 36 Saturdays for 180 minutes or four academic classes each Saturday.

     AKLS students participated in contests organized by LEC (Lithuanian Educational Council of the US). Picture contest was dedicated to the Lithuanian Writer Donelaitis for his 300 year anniversary. Students had to depict four seasons either around themselves or according to writer’s book “The seasons”. The essay contest was dedicated to the heritage of the Lithuanian Family Traditions, their beauty, meaning, with emphasis on most beautiful Lithuanian words about Family. It was a very busy time for the students and teachers since it was time to show off the knowledge and creativity and send all the work to the LEC headquarters in Boston. After the contest, AKLS was rewarded with three winning places: Aiden Genender won second prize among third graders, Smiltene Jankunaite - first prize among eighth graders and Justas Klimavicius third prize among tenth graders of the Lithuanian Heritage Schools of the US.

     For school year events and outings, as every year, students were taken to the Pumpkin patch during one of the warm October Saturdays where they had a Lithuanian class on expressions of fall, farms and weather. Apart from writing and drawing on clipboards, students were able to play on the field and go pumpkin picking. This outing was followed by writing an essay during regular Saturday classes. First time in the school’s history, All Saints day in November, was celebrated with an outing to a North Fork cemetery in Mattituck to a grave of a Lithuanian couple Birute and Frederic Lucka. Not long time ago, the Luckas were very active Knights of Lithuania members here on the North Fork of Long Island, and Mr. Lucka visited the Lithuanian School on numerous occasions. Before their visit to the cemetery, students were introduced to the life story of Mr. Lucka (since Mrs. Lucka passed away before the school’s founding) through photographs. Lithuanian and American flags, flowers and candles were brought to the cemetery. December went by quickly while preparing for the Christmas Morning Show “The Ice boy” with a visit from Santa (thanks to the efforts of Algis Anglickas) and AKLS teachers who were very creative in inventing new scenarios and costumes. For the Operation Christmas Child “Gifts in Shoeboxes” for the Children of the World, AKLS families donated 22 boxes. AKLS assistant director organized a memorable trip to NYC with an educational behind the scenes tour of the Radio City Rockets and the Rockefeller Center tour. February brought Mardi Gras and the Lithuanian traditional Uzgavenes celebrated with pancakes and making of masks, and National Dictation day when students and parents tried their knowledge at writing in Lithuanian language. March - time for the LEC essay and picture contests - no time for outings. April came with Easter Celebration with the entire Saturday of tradition, egg decorating classes, singing and outdoor games. In April Dr. Kazickas’s celebrated his 96th Birthday - students painted, wrote and made Birthday card with their teacher Jolanta Vilcinskiene. May - Mother’s day during classes, when students’ mothers came and told their children stories of childhood. AKLS student Vilia Baumilaite created a power point of the AKLS children and their Moms, with students’ voices and gratitude words for their moms.

     Two new things came to the AKLS last year. One was a project “Rainbow” created by student Aiste Furajevaite, who picked and awarded students who spoke most Lithuanian during the school hours. At the end of the school year, students who put most effort into speaking Lithuanian, went bowling. Aiste also created a new Facebook page for the school. The second news was a Lithuanian language exam initiated by the Kazickas Family Foundation and conducted with the help of the A. Kazickas Lithuanian school teachers. AKLS teachers Renata Petrauskiene and Ramune Kurbanoviene were on the examination board. The exam created by Gaila Narkeviciene with the help from Egle Slezas (both of the Boston Lithuanian School, Boston), was offered to high school students of the East Coast of the US who were willing to check their knowledge of Lithuanian and submit exam results to their local schools for Lithuanian as a foreign language credits. Twenty one teen from five states took the exam, among them five from the AKLS.

     In June after tests and exams, during the school year closing ceremony, after the Lithuanian National anthem was sung, a minute of silence was dedicated to the AKLS founder Mrs. Alexandra Kazickas, and those who died for the Freedom of Lithuania, and who were dying for Freedom of Ukraine and around the World; after a prayer was said for Dr. Kazickas’s health and the Kazickas Family students performed songs, and finally enjoyed their certificates. The younger ones received “Welcome to the world of the Lithuanian language”, and the bigger ones “Certificates”. Letters of Honor for diligence, attendance, literacy, and overall achievement were awarded. Attendance hours, academic achievements, and evaluation of knowledge of the Lithuanian Language according to the standards of The European Community Language committee with language levels from A1 to B2 were reflected on the AKLS documents. A surprise came from Oksana Rahbari, Lukas, Markus and Sabrina’s Mom, who made a beautiful AKLS Logo with a wood burning technique, a yearly gift and a symbol of thank you from the AKLS to the Kazickas Family. Couple weeks later the plaque was presented to Jurate and John Kazickas.

     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. Thanks to Mrs. Aukse Vaicaitis for proofreading all the texts for the AKSL website. Thanks to Snieguole Furajeviene and her daughter Aiste for pictures of the school year.

     Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian School continues its mission in maintaining and preserving Lithuanian identity, language, culture and love for Lithuania, thanks to continued effort and attention of parents, staff, faculty and support from the Lithuanian Community of East End, the Lithuanian Foundation of Chicago, Illinois, and sponsorship of the Kazickas Family Foundation of New York.

      Special thanks to the Kazickas Family for the attention, love and financial support that we receive while celebrating the memory of Mrs. Alexandra Kazickas.

     Neila Baumiliene
     Southampton, NY
     June, 2014