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2014-2015 School Year at Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian School

     In the summer of 2014, Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian School’s community said good by to Dr.Joseph P. Kazickas who passed peacefully at home in East Hampton, NY on July 9 at the age of 96. School’s students, teachers and parents came to the wake and the Solemn Mass, as well as the burial of Dr. Kazickas’s ashes in the Most Holy Trinity Cemetery in East Hampton, already a resting place for his son Alexander Kestutis and wife Alexandra.

     The ninth school year started in Red Creek park (Hampton Bays, NY) with a minute of silence, speeches from Columbia University professor emeritus Rimas Vaicaitis, Lithuanian Community of the East End Chair Rasa Mitruleviciene, and school’s principal Neila Baumiliene, who invited students, faculty and parents to be part of a Family sports day.

     The school year started with 31 students attending and 9 adults on staff. The School staff and administration members were the following: Lithuanian language and literature teacher- Renata Petrauskiene, elementary school 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 third year the school did not have a history teacher. Neila Baumiliene remained the principal of the school and taught “Nowadays Lithuania“ class. AKLS operated 33 Saturdays for 180 minutes or four academic classes a Saturday.

     AKLS students participated in contests organized by LEC (Lithuanian Educational Council of the US). Picture contest was dedicated to the Lithuanian folk outdoor cross and shrine culture and art. Students were taught to recognize different crosses and shrines in five different regions of Lithuania, and drew them. The essay contest “Celebrate Lithuania” gave a chance to the students to write about something they like in Lithuania the most. It was time to show off the knowledge and creativity and send all the work to the LEC headquarters in Boston.

     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. After writing and drawing on clipboards, students played on the field and went pumpkin picking. The outing was followed by writing of an essay during regular Saturday classes. Halloween Morning was celebrated during school hours. Second time in the school’s history, All Saints day in November, was celebrated with a trip to the Most Holy Trinity Cemetery in East Hampton, to the Kazickas Family grave site. Lithuanian and American flags, flowers and lit candles brightened up the graves of Dr. Joseph P. Kazickas, his wife Alexandra and their son Alexander Kęstutis. At the cemetery, the AKLS community was greeted by eight Kazickas Family members, Jurate, Michael, John, Beverly, Marcie, Jack, Victoria and Sophie. Later they all went to the Children’s Museum of the East End, whose one of the founders is Lucy Kazickas. At the Museum, the students, the teachers and the Family members not only played but also participated in a Jackson Pollock’s creative workshop. December went by quickly while preparing for the Christmas Morning Puppet Show “Cindarella”. Christmas Show morning was attended by Joe, Augie, Sophie Kazickas, and Santa (thanks to the efforts of Algis Anglickas). AKLS teachers were very creative in inventing new scenario and costumes. For the Operation Christmas Child “Gifts in Shoeboxes” for the Children of the World, AKLS families donated 20 boxes, with AKLS student Aiden Genender donating extra 35. 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. The first St.Casimir Fair with students crafts and goodies was a success. April came with Easter Celebration with the entire Saturday of tradition, egg decorating classes, singing and outdoor games. May - Mother’s day during classes, when students’ mothers came and told their children stories about their childhood.

     AKLS student Aiste Furajevaite’s initiative “Colorful Band Aid” with current and former AKLS students was a fundraiser of money and Band Aids for the Children’s oncology wards in Kaunas and Vilnius, Lithuania. The Fundraiser involved all the Lithuanian Heritage schools across the US.

     Lithuanian language proficiency exam initiated in 2014 by the Kazickas Family Foundation and conducted with the help of the A. Kazickas Lithuanian school teachers, got support from the Ministry of Education and Science of Lithuania and Vilnius University Department of the Lithuanian Language. In May of 2015, Vilnius University Lithuanian language specialist Rita Migauskiene with the  help from AKLS teachers Renata Petrauskiene and Ramune Kurbanoviene conducted A2 level Lithuanian exam. The exam was taken by 16 students and passed by 14. The diplomas issued by Vilnius University, and submitted with supporting documentation to the local Long Island schools were recognized with an award of 1-3 language credits on the high school diploma.

     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 Dr. Joseph P. Kazickas, three students graduated AKLS, Justas Klimavicius, Aiste Furajevaite and Vilia Baumilaite. The younger students received “Welcome to the world of the Lithuanian language Certificates”, 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.

     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. Thank you to Mrs. Aukse Vaicaitis for proofreading all the texts for the AKSL website. Thank you 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
     May, 2017