With the proud director of Vilnius Jonas Basanavičius Progymnasium, Gražina Šoblickienė, looking on, one of the graduating students spoke in fluent, nearly accent-less French. He hit the reality spot on when telling the eagerly-waiting students that he had spent half of his life in this fine school of the Lithuanian capital.
Indeed, for most this will be the largest part of their young lives. It was 1 September and all over the Lithuanian capital young people were walking to school, many of them clutching small bouquets of flowers. It was a sunny and very hot day with temperatures close to 30 degrees.
Once in school, the headmistresses or masters all over the country would say a few words of welcome. In some schools, speakers, or even the former ambassador to the USA, Žygimantas Pavilionis, and other celebrities had some words of advice and reflection. Talented students performed songs and displayed their budding talent while anxious students, often accompanied by their parents, were looking on.
Some schools shared their frustration with the lack of funding. Others worried about their existence in the face of governments, like those everywhere, working on tight budgets and reforms. All, like the director of Vilnius Jonas Basanavičius Progymnasium, Ms. Šoblickienė, and that of Vilnius Žvėrynas Gymnasium, Daiva Žiurienė, have as their goal bringing better education quicker and further into the 21st century to the young minds in their schools.
Generally, there were lots of happy faces looking forward to meeting up with friends, or making new friends. Teachers and directors alike ready to prepare a new crop of young brains for a country that proudly displays knowledge as one of the key features for investors of the outside world to tap into. All of that on a day that reminded most of us more of summer. That seems to have been taken in stride as all seemed ready to explore and enjoy the fountain of facts, figures and knowledge.