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2015-2016 School Year at Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian School

     The tenth school year started on the Panquogue Beach (Hampton Bays, NY) with a Family day full of laughter and exercise. The highlight of the day was the flying of Kites with a mission to decorate white kites and write wishes on them for the Kazickas members in Heaven. It took the students a while but everyone was very happy with their kites up in the sky. Later many of the families took a dip in the Atlantic ocean.

     The school year started with 33 students attending and 10 adults on staff. We were delighted to find out that Reda Vysniauskas agreed to be pre-K teacher. She was a great new addition to 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. Neila Baumiliene remained the principal of the school and taught “Nowadays Lithuania“ class. AKLS operated 32 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 Art. The essay contest “I am telling a Story” gave a chance to students to show off their knowledge and creativity and send all the work to the LEC headquarters in Boston. AKLS two students were awarded with prizes: Ema Vilcinskaite for the most beautiful painting in the 9-10th grade category received the first prize. Lukas Baumilas received second prize in the 7th grade category for his essay. Ema also received second prize in the 9th grade category for her essay.

     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, and went pumpkin picking. Halloween was celebrated during morning classes. Third 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, by 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 six Kazickas Family members Michael, John, Beverly, Marcie,Joe and Lucy. Everyone then went to Joe and Lucy’s house for breakfast. December went by quickly while preparing for the Christmas Morning Puppet Show “The Little Rooster”. Christmas Show morning was attended by John and Marcie Kazickas, and AKLS Supporter with the Lithuanian Heritage Ann Marie Carr, as well as Santa (thanks to the efforts of Kestutis Jankunas). AKLS teachers were very creative in inventing a new scenario and costumes. For the Operation Christmas Child “Gifts in Shoeboxes” for the Children of the World, AKLS families donated 18 boxes. January 13th was celebrated with a minute of silence, songs, Forget-me-Not buttons were worn, a slide show about the Bloody events of 1991.01.13 at the Vilnius TV tower was shown. Lithuanian Independence Day - February 16, 1918 as well as Lithuanian Independence Reinstatement Day – March 11, 1990 were remembered. February brought Mardi Gras and the Lithuanian traditional Uzgavenes celebrated with pancakes and making of masks. AKLS skipped National Dictation day when students and parents used to try their knowledge at writing in Lithuanian language. The second 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, songs and outdoor games. May - Mother’s day during classes, when students’ mothers came and told their children stories about their childhood.

     AKLS alumna Aiste Furajevaite’s initiative “Basketball Power” with current and former AKLS students was a fundraiser of money and sneakers for the social responsibility program in Lithuania “Basketball Power”. The event was attended by the Lithuanian NBA player Jonas Valančiūnas and the Lithuanian community of the East End of Long Island. The school hosted a Lithuania Popular Children’s book character “Kake Make” actors for a fun afternoon for students.

     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 April of 2016, Vilnius University Lithuanian language department created three in one A1-A2-B1 test, financed by the Ministry, and brought it to the US Lithuanian Heritage schools. 97 students took the test, among them there were 5 AKLS students, ages 14 and older. AKLS teachers Renata Petrauskiene and Ramune Kurbanoviene were the professional testers with special VU testers diplomas. The Lithuanian Language Level Test diplomas issued by Vilnius University, holding logo of the Ministry of Education and Science of Lithuania, and submitted with supporting documentation to the local Long Island schools were recognized with an award of 1-3 language credits.

     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, 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. Special attention was paid to awarding ten students who showed the most diligence participating in the Lithuanian Book Reading Initiative “Read in Lithuanian 2015-2016”, they received “Book Warm” certificates. LEC awarded seven AKLS teachers for their work in the school for 10 years.

     Gratitude to Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering Rimas Vaicaitis of Columbia University 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