Graduation of the third grade students. Aleknaiciai, Pakruojis distr., 1983.

Some of the first pupils who attended Aleknaičiai Primary School remember that when the school first started (1939), every time a teacher entered the classroom, all the children would stand up and make the sign of the Christian cross. Later, when Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet army (1940-1990), all religious festivals were banned, and in 1945 the Soviet Bolshevik government banned the pupils even from attending church.

Under the Soviet structure of the education system, teachers who had completed vocational education were assigned to schools. Most of the teachers at Aleknaičiai enjoyed their jobs and valued the teaching staff. The school was the most active and well-attended from the 1950s and mid-1960s. The school’s daily activities were supplemented by theatre plays organised together with the youth of the collective farm. Teachers would take their classes to Šiauliai to watch the larger plays, and the older classes would go on longer excursions, including to Samogitia, Salantai, Anykščiai, Kaunas and Palanga.

It is worth mentioning that Aleknaičiai Primary School stood out positively from other schools in the district and was highly appreciated. Aldona Urbonavičienė took care of the school library for many years. The sports ground at Aleknaičiai School was designed and maintained by Stasys Grušas. Eugenija Šablauskaitė-Kemerienė organised the maintenance of the school’s premises and distributed the work of the Michurinian Garden. All teachers had their own teaching subject and carried out additional activities. The efforts of about eight teachers did not go unnoticed – every autumn a “Socialist Race” (‘soclenktynės‘ in Lithuanian) was held: a jury from Radviliškis district would come and evaluate schools in Pakruojis district and vice versa – a jury from the latter would evaluate schools in Radviliškis. Multiple criteria were included in the evaluation, including the library, the repairs made, the sports field and the general environment of the premises. For years, Aleknaičiai Primary School was winning various awards.

The school staff was also involved in the training of future teachers: in the 1960s, Pličinkaitė and Malelaitė, students of Vilnius University (VU), who taught chemistry and biology, spent half a year at the school in the form of a traineeship. At that time, the school lacked visual teaching materials, so the trainees created the necessary tools and adapted them to their lessons. It is also important to mention that most of the graduates from university or ones with vocational educational training were appointed to higher positions, such as the headmaster Jonas Urbonavičius. However, not all the teachers who worked at Aleknaičiai School had a pedagogical background.

Teachers in Aleknaičiai School had many different roles and functions and were among the most educated and cultured people in the district. Some teachers acted as a kind of substitute parent for the children, taking care of their mental, physical and cultural education, and ensuring their hygiene: all the boys attending school had their heads shaved to prevent parasites from breeding. It is also known that in addition to their work at the school, teachers were encouraged by the Soviet authorities to agitate and invite the residents of the district to vote and to take part in events organised by the government.

In order to accommodate all the teachers, a residential house was built next to the school, where the Grušas and Garnelis families moved in. The remaining teachers usually shared rooms on the first floor of the Aleknaičiai school (one room per two people). When the school became a primary school and the teaching staff declined in number, the Grušas family also moved to the first floor of the school building.

The teachers worked six days a week, as classes were not held only on Sundays. On their days off, they would go to see daytime theatre plays in Šiauliai. During the summer holidays, at least one teacher had to stay on duty at the school, as the children would gather to do some work in the fields. During these months, the pupils had to make a workday book in which they marked their daily field work and the tasks they performed for the maintenance of the plants in the Michurinian Garden. There, following the programme drawn up by biologist Ivan Michurin, they grew edible herbs, and later vegetables. Sometimes, after the first two classes, the children would go out to join collective voluntary work activities. The ones who gathered behind the Aleknaičiai mill would have the foreman teach them to recognise Colorado potato beetles and pick them out of the surrounding fields. The children also took part in the collective farm’s work, harvesting flax, beetroot and potatoes in the fields. Former pupils remember how, after the work was done, the owner of the field would sometimes give them kugel (called “boba” by the locals) or lemonade as a reward.

The school was attended by many socially disadvantaged families, and in the 1990s, the charity foundation “Kaimo vaikai” (Children of the Country) of the newspaper “Valstiečių laikraštis” provided support to the school for about five years, thus also financing part of the renovation work. It is thought that the editor of the newspaper came from the area, which is why the school received financial support and special attention.

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