Punskas Kovo 11 Lithuanian Secondary School in Poland
Secondary education (understood here as upper secondary schools of general education) is not obligatory in Poland and is intended for pupils aged 15 to 19.
The only Lithuanian secondary school in Poland started its activity in Punskas in 1956. It is an extremely important centre of local and regional education, culture and social life. On 11 March 1992 it was named Kovo 11 (11 March) to commemorate Lithuania’s independence re- establishment. The main aim of the school is to cultivate Lithuanian culture and traditions. In the three-year school, there are 5 classes with a total number of 105 pupils.
The pupils can develop their interests in various school societies. There are a drama society (it performs only the Lithuanian plays), Lithuanian folk dance group „Šalčia“, choir „Pašešupiai“ and sport society (2 basketball teams). The pupils also can publish their own magazine which is called „Demesio“. A lot of performances are prepared in the school: to celebrate Lithuanian national holidays, to perform the pupils’ made up comical plays.
All subjects – except Polish language & literature, history, geography and foreign languages – are lectured bilingually in Lithuanian and Polish. Lithuanian language & literature is taught 4 classes a week. The curriculum in such schools also includes courses in regional studies and history of Lithuania (one hour a week).
In 1952 there were started to establish education for national minorities in Poland. On 1 December 1953 the first class with the Lithuanian language of instruction started its activity in Suvalkai/Suwałki (30 km from Punskas). 23 pupils attended to the first class. The main founder and head teacher was Jonas Stoskeliunas – Kaunas (Lithuania) university graduate. The Lithuanian pedagogues were the first teachers of this class: Elena Vainiene, Juozas Vaina, Juozas Kubilius.
There was being tried to establishe the same class in 1954/1955 school year, but there were not enough candidates. The following year only 15 pupils wanted to learn in the Lithuanian class. These were the first steps to the establishment of Lithuanian secondary school in the Punskas/Puńsk – Seinai/Sejny – Suvalkai/Suwałki region.
More and more people wanted to establish Lithuanian school in Punskas when finally on 20 August 1956 the Ministry of Education established Lithuanian secondary school in Punskas (Poland). There should be mentioned these teachers: Jonas Stoskeliunas, Jouzas Vaina, Stanisław Łysakowski, Antanas Judickas, Stasys Marcinkevičius.
The school was changing its building for several times. In 1977 the school was moved to a new building where functions till now together with primary school and lower secondary school. The first head teacher of this secondary school was Stanisław Łysakowski (till 1959) later: Józef Dabuszyński, Algis Uzdila, Juozas Sigitas Paransevičius, Irena Čepliene, Maryte Černeliene, Irena Bobiniene and Irena Marcinkevičiene (from 2007).
The important date in school’s history is 11 March 1992 when the only Lithuanian secondary school in Poland was named Kovo 11 (11 March) to commemorate Lithuania’s independence re- establishment.
Nowadays the existing school buildings do not have enough room for the present and future numbers of pupils and teaching staff (there are three types of school in the same building: secondary school, primary and lower secondary schools). Therefore, imminent extension of the school complex is of the utmost importance. The school and municipality authorities are eagerly looking for the finances required to accomplish that project.