Aleknaičiai is a village in northern Lithuania, Pakruojis district. According to the 1923 census, Aleknaičiai consisted of 32 homesteads and about 100 inhabitants, who for many years were mainly engaged in agricultural activities. In 1932, as the population of the village grew, the four-year school was moved from the nearby village of Vilūnaičiai to the home of the Daukša family in Aleknaičiai. At that time, the education of the children was provided by a single teacher, Vaišvilaitė. Over the next five years, thanks to the efforts of local residents to whom it was of interest, a school building was built. In 1939, the Aleknaičiai Stasys Kelpša Primary School was officially opened and named after a teacher who came from the village of Ramonaičiai in the Pakruojis district and was killed in the fight against the Bermontians (West Russian Volunteer Army).
Not much information remains about the history of Aleknaičiai School in the mid-20th century, but it is known that in 1951, Stasys and Stefa Garnelis, newcomers of Aleknaičiai village, were appointed teachers. In 1954, the Aleknaičiai primary school was reorganised into an eight-year school. Eleonora Jučaitė-Baltrušaitienė, the former deputy headmistress of Lygumai School, was appointed to the post of headmistress. In the following years, Bronė and Stasys Grušas and Skiveris joined the staff, and in 1961 Jonas Urbonavičius, a teacher of mathematics and physics, was appointed headmaster, having moved to Aleknaičiai and started working there together with his wife, Aldona Urbonavičienė, a teacher of Lithuanian language.
From 1954 to 1968, the teachers at the eight-year school in Aleknaičiai had their own classrooms, a teachers’ room and pupils to take care of personally. The children were taught natural and exact sciences as well as arts, in the summers they had compulsory work in the Michurinian Garden cultivated next to the school building, and after school they would join pioneer, orchestra, choir and dance classes. At the end of the school year, Aleknaičiai school pupils would take part in sports competitions in Pakruojis district schools. Teachers would take their pupils on excursions or to voluntary work activities of the local collective farm to weed, plant or pick plants in the fields nearby the school. The teaching staff during this period consisted of between 8 and 11 teachers, including two six-month trainees from Vilnius Vincas Kapsukas University. The school was attended by about 70-80 pupils who, after completing eight grades in Aleknaičiai, normally continued their education at the Lygumai secondary school.
As the residents of rural areas began to move to the cities nationwide, the number of children in the villages began to decline as well. In 1968, there were only 30 pupils at the eight-year Aleknaičiai school, so it was reorganised into a primary school. Bronė Grušienė and Stasys Grušas remained to teach there, while others left to work in other schools in the Pakruojis district, most of them in the Lygumai secondary school.
After Lithuania regained its independence, the planned economy of the Soviet Union replaced capitalism and eventually Lithuania’s borders opened up together with new opportunities to travel. Consequently, during the first decade of national independence, a large number of people (especially young people) who lived in villages moved to cities, further reducing the number of residents in rural areas. The Ministry of Education and Science responded to the decline in the number of school-age children in Lithuania’s regions by closing smaller rural schools. After the closure of Aleknaičiai Primary School in 2000, the nearest educational institutions – Lygumai Secondary School and Pakruojis City Schools, which had a more developed infrastructure – took in the former pupils of Aleknaičiai School.
Part of the former school building became the home of the last teachers Bronė and Stasys Grušas. Until the second decade of the 20th century, they took care of the school’s premises and the condition of the building, preserved photographs, publications and other objects that held information on the history of the school’s educational system. When Bronė and Stasys passed away, the former school grounds were passed on to Aleknaičiai residents Vytautas and Jovita Vaitiekūnas.
During the six decades of Aleknaičiai School’s existence, the children of this village and its surroundings were taught by Vaišvilaitė, Stasė Žukauskienė (Žukienė), Viktoras Rudaminas, Valerija Zablockienė, Stasys Garnelis, Stefa Garnelienė, Eleonora Jučaitė-Baltrušaitienė, Bronė Grušienė, Stasys Grušas, Eugenija Šablauskaitė-Kemerienė, P. Skiveris, Alfonsa Urlakytė, G. Vaičeliūnaitė-Zigmantienė, Stasė Grigelionytė-Lapeikienė, Aldona Urbonavičienė and Jonas Urbonavičius.
CHRONOLOGY OF ALEKNAIČIAI SCHOOL
- In 1932, the four-year school in Vilūnaičiai village was moved to Aleknaičiai village.
- In 1937, the Aleknaičiai school building was built. In 1939, a primary school was opened in these premises.
- In 1951, Stasys and Stefa Garnelis were appointed teachers at the school.
- In 1954, the school was reorganised into an eight-year school with Eleonora Jučaitė-Baltrušaitienė becoming the headmistress. About 70-80 pupils attended classes and were taught by 7-8 teachers.
- In 1954-1955, Bronė Grušienė and Stasys Grušas arrived in the school to work as teachers.
- In 1956, Alfonsa Urlakytė joined the teaching staff.
- In 1961, Jonas Urbonavičius was appointed headmaster, having arrived together with his wife, teacher Aldona Urbonavičienė.
- Around 1961-1963, the school also taught adults.
- In December 1963, the school had an electric system installed, and soon thereafter came a telephone and a television set.
- In 1964, the Aleknaičiai dance ensemble, led by Stefa Garnelienė, took part in the Republic’s Song Festival.
- In 1968, the eight-year school was reorganised into a primary school with about 30 pupils.
In 2000, only 9 pupils attended Aleknaičiai Primary School. The teachers were Bronė and Stasys Grušas. Due to the declining population, Aleknaičiai Primary School was closed.
The history of Aleknaičiai School is compiled from the stories of local residents, testimonies of former teachers and memories of former pupils, as well as journals left at the school and the book of memoirs about Kazimieras Kalibata, Gyvenimas pagal priesaiką (Life under the Oath). Facts will continue to be collected and added to the history of the school. If you have any questions or find discrepancies, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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A horticulturist society named after the Russian horticulturist Ivan Michurin, which operated from 1953 to 1959 by the principle of collective gardening.
 After the restoration of Lithuania’s independence (1990), the university retrieved its autonomy and the name Vilnius University.
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