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2016-2017 School Year at Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian School

     The eleventh school year started with a celebration on the Panquogue Beach (Hampton Bays, NY) where students, teachers and parents built a big Lithuanian town of sand castles surrounded by trenches, valleys and fields. Dozens of Lithuanian flags flew on numerous towers of sand. After a group picture was taken, children took a dip in the Atlantic ocean .

     The school year started with 34 students attending and 10 adults on staff. Reda Vysniauskas taught pre-K, while Lithuanian language and literature teacher was 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. After the New Year, two adults joined AKLS, and Adult Elementary Lithuanian Communication class was started and taught by Neila Baumilienė who also remained as the principal of the school and also taught a “Nowadays Lithuania“ class. AKLS operated 33 Saturdays for 180 minutes or four academic classes a Saturday. New Parent Committee was elected with moms of the new pre-K students joining in.

    For school year events and outings, students were taken pumpkin picking in October. Halloween was celebrated during morning classes. For the fourth time in the school’s history, All Saints day in November, was celebrated at the Kazickas Family grave site in the Most Holy Trinity Cemetery in East Hampton. 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 three Kazickas Family members Michael, Beverly and Jack. December went by quickly while preparing for the Christmas Morning Show “The Mitten”. Christmas Show morning was attended by Joe and Lucy Kazickas, and AKLS Supporter of the Lithuanian Heritage Marianne Klepacki and Santa (thanks to the efforts of Kęstutis Jankūnas). Students also went to see “Frosty” at the Port Jefferson John W. Engeman Theater. For the Operation Christmas Child “Gifts in Shoeboxes” for the Children of the World, AKLS families donated 16 boxes. January 13th was celebrated with a minute of silence and songs wearing Forget-me-Not buttons. 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. The third St.Casimir Fair with students’ crafts and goodies was a success again. Easter Celebration with the entire Saturday of tradition, egg decorating classes, songs and outdoor games became even better when AKLS was visited by basketball coach and manager of ”Basketball Power” program from Lithuania, Arminas Vareika. Relay races were added to the celebration. May - Mother’s day during classes, when students’ mothers come and tell their children stories about their childhood.

    AKLS alumna Aiste Furajevaite’s while working as an intern in the Kazickas Family Foundation invited AKLS students and parents to a “Basketball Power” event in the NBPA NYC where a day full of basketball clinics, a class of robotics and a meet and greet with the Lithuanian NBA stars was organized. AKLS families went to Madison Square Garden to watch Knicks-Raptors game. AKLS students hi-fived the players and took pictures with them after the game. After game meet and greet with the Lithuanian stars Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Jonas Valančiūnas was organized by Snieguolė Furajevienė of AKLS.

    Younger AKLS students participated in the LEC (Lithuanian Educational Council of the US) drawing contest dedicated to the Lithuanian National Costume.

Lithuanian language proficiency exam was conducted at the end of March in the Lithuanian Alliance of America in NYC. The Lithuanian Language Level Test created by Vilnius University Lithuanian language department as three in one A1-A2-B1, and financed by the Ministry of Education and Science of Lithuania was conducted not only in the US, but in Europe as well. In total, 170 students took the test among them there were 5 AKLS students, ages 14 and older. AKLS teachers Renata Petrauskiene and Ramune Kurbanoviene, professional testers, received VU testers certificates for the second year in a row after passing certification exam in a seminar in Boston in January. 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 May, during the school year closing ceremony, after the Lithuanian National anthem is sung, a minute of silence is dedicated to the AKLS founder Mrs. Alexandra Kazickas and Dr. Joseph P. Kazickas, the younger students receive “Welcome to the world of the Lithuanian language Certificates”, and the bigger ones “Certificates”. Letters of Honor for diligence, attendance, literacy, and overall achievement are 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 reflect on the AKLS documents. LEC awards one more AKLS teacher for her work in the school for 10 years. Three AKSL students are graduating, Greta Diržytė, Lukas Baumilas and Vesta Visockas. This is AKLS sixth group of graduates.

     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 Snieguole Furajeviene 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