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Lithuanian Language Contest-Quiz Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Song Festival: Enriching Knowledge with Interesting Facts

On February 28th, for the sixth time, an international Lithuanian language competition-quiz for 4th graders was held, dedicated to celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Song Festival.

“Language is our nation… We are the language.” This thought of the young Lithuanian actress Agnė Šataitė was chosen as the main motif of the Lithuanian language competition-quiz. The competition was intended for 4th-grade students from Lithuanian schools around the world and general education schools in Lithuania, with 1-2 students from each class eligible to participate. A total of 27 fourth-graders from Marijampolė, Klaipėda, Šiauliai, Šlienava, Kaunas, Vilnius, Širvintai, and Ukmergė participated in this year’s competition-quiz. According to the organizers, for several years now, the most active participants have been students from schools in Klaipėda, Marijampolė, Kaunas, and Šiauliai.

The theme of this year’s competition-quiz is the centennial celebration of the Song Festival, which was reflected in the tasks. The task creators prepared interesting facts about this festival for presentation. Based on these facts, students had to complete “Kahoot” tasks. Participants in the competition solved crosswords with grammatical tasks and the task “Finish the song” – they had to choose lines suitable for the other two Lithuanian songs (e.g., “Beloved Lithuania,” “Where the Šešupė River Flows,” etc.).

According to one of the Lithuanian language competition-quiz organizers, Daiva Jankauskienė, the students were very excited about this year’s theme and tasks because they themselves will participate in the Song Festival. “We see the multiple benefits of such a competition,” says one of its organizers, Daiva Jankauskienė, a methodologist and member of the initiative group for the education of talented students at the “Erudito” lyceum. “By organizing this competition-quiz, we aim to nurture love for the native language, encourage deepening of knowledge of the Lithuanian language, but no less attention is paid to the development and improvement of digital and general competencies, self-expression, and at the same time strengthening national identity. And this year’s competition is also a beautiful introduction to the centennial Lithuanian Song Festival, where students could learn new things and test their own knowledge about this beautiful tradition that unites thousands of Lithuanians worldwide. ‘We are all different, but still the same – the same singing, dancing Lithuania, the same language uniting us, nurturing our culture.'”

Symbolically, the first Song Festival was held on August 23-25, 1924, in Kaunas. The Lithuanian anthem was sung by a chorus of 3500 singers, supported by a crowd of ten thousand. The festival was opened by President Aleksandras Stulginskis. The desire to sing was so great that participants traveled to the first Lithuanian Song Festival by train, by steamboat, and on foot, sewing their own national costumes.

The first Song Festival could have failed because it rained so much on the Day of Songs that the second part of the program could only be performed several days later. After a hundred years, the Song Festival now includes the Day of Songs, the Day of Dance, and the Day of Folklore. This traditional festival of national art, organized in the Baltic States, is a unique phenomenon recognized by UNESCO as a masterpiece of oral and intangible cultural heritage. In 1981, a male choir from Japan, having no ethnic ties with Lithuania but having learned the entire repertoire and passed the selection, participated in this festival!

The teachers’ committee evaluated the acrostics sent by the participants, “Lithuania Sings,” reading them aloud to all the competition participants. The organizers are pleased to have received many creative, even hand-illustrated works. The most beautiful acrostics were recognized as those of Vaiva Kirklytė from Šiauliai district Ginkūnai Sofia and Vladimir Zubov’s Gymnasium (teacher Daiva Mačiūnienė).

The first-place winner of the competition was announced as Agnė Ivaškevičiūtė from Kaunas Juozas Grušas Art Gymnasium (teacher Paulė Puikė), the second-place winner was Arnas Vaičiukynas from Šlienava Basic School in Kaunas District (teacher Želvita Jankunė), and the third place went to Barbora Mikelkevičiūtė from Pranas Mašiotas Primary School in Kaunas (teacher Lina Palianskienė).

The first Lithuanian Language Contest-Quiz for 4th graders took place in spring 2019 and was dedicated only to fourth graders in Kaunas city. “Over the next three times, the competition grew until it became nationwide, and fourth graders from all over Lithuania were invited. Last year, when announcing the theme of the competition, we thought that it had grown enough to become international, so we invited children learning in Lithuanian Saturday schools around the world to join,” said D. Jankauskienė about the growth of the competition.

The contest-quiz is organized by the Kaunas Education Innovation Center, Erudito Lyceum, and the initiative group of Kaunas city primary school teachers for the education of talented students. The task preparation and evaluation commission consisted of primary school teachers from Erudito Lyceum: Daiva Jankauskienė, Rūta Gudynienė, Dovilė Koklevičienė, Loreta Raižienė, and Daiva Petkevičienė.