Zemaiciu Kalvarija is famous not only for its historical past, church, wonderful ensemble of Christ’s suffering places on Calvary hills but also for one of the oldest schools in Samogitia (Zemaitija).The school was founded in 1644.
More schools appeared in Samogitia under supervision of bishop Jurgis Tiskevicius. He was an earnest pastor of Samogitians, who managed to hold four congresses for the priests of his diocese. In three of them the decision was about founding of schools. In the decision of the first Congress or Synod , which took place in 1636 in Medininkai, it is stated that every church has to run a school with a teacher, whose duty is to teach parish children Christian Ethics, Grammar, Arithmetics, Music and Hymns Singing. The second Synod, which took place in 1639, announced that every school should be inspected by a deacon in order to see if the teacher is a catholic and how he educates parish children to practice piety.
Bishop J. Tiskevicius inviting monks Dominicans to Samogitia demanded to fulfill certain requirements: they had to run the school and say sermons in Samogitian and understandably.
According to the decisions of the Synod in 1644 the parish school started its activity in Zemaiciu Kalvarija. The teaching took place only in winter season. There were only more than twenty students at the beginning. In 1778 under the permission of bishop Jonas Lopacinskis the school was reorganized into a school of higher type and the third form was opened and two teachers were giving lessons. In 1782 there already were 80 students at school.
The czar of Russia Alexander I gave permission to restore the university of Vilnius in 1803. Dominincons having the permission by the University, opened the school of 4 forms in Zemaiciu Kalvarija. In 1803 there already were 176 students. In 1808- 218 students, in 1817 the number of students was 214. Dominicans fit up a bookshop and provided with all necessary teaching devices. The Vilnius University acknowledging the Dominicans’ teaching as very meaningful let them to expand the school up to six forms. Having the shortage of premises they built one more building. The number of students was increasing: in 1819 – 476, in 1821 – 373, in 1823 there were 412 students.
The future bishop Motiejus Valancius studied in this school in 1817-1821. In his remembrances he wrote: “All the students were obedient and polite, everybody was studying as much as one could. In Zemaiciu Kalvarija there was neither chemist’s nor doctor or paramedic or bathhouse. Poor creatures often had rashes which usually disappeared after a bath.”
“The professors had to be both judges and executioners. However all the professors, though they had power, treated us well, with the exception of one”.
The Vilnius university professor Karolis Podcacinskis gives some more information about Zemaiciu Kalvarija school after his visits to it in 1825 and 1826.The school is described as follows: “In the school which is run by priests Dominicans there is one preparatory form and 6 ordinary forms with 303 students and 8 teachers( all of them clergymen). The head teacher was priest Vincas Petraskevicius who taught Christian Ethics and French. Priest Dominican Judickas taught literature. All the students were catholics with the exception of one- Orthodox. A certain number of students (116) come from peasantry. In the Science Room there were 73 animal and bird exhibits. There also was a botanic garden”. Once in a quarter students had to take exams. Bright students were given praise in public. A lot of time was devoted to moral education.
In 1814 a future historian Simonas Daukantas graduated from Zemaiciu Kalvarija four-year school. Since 1825 under the request of Dominicans Zemaiciu Kalvarija school was granted the name of gymnasium. After the 1831 revolt Russian authorities started closing form after form and in 1836 Zemaiciu Kalvarija gymnasium was completely closed. The last headmaster of the school was priest I.Aleksandravicius.
Around the year 1907 or 1908 under the supervision of priest J. Petrauskas a Lithuanian “Saules” society primary school was established in the Mikas’ house.
On August 19, 1918 studies started in Zemaiciu Kalvarija primary school which was founded in I. Valancauskas house which is opposite the church. This school functioned till 1940.
In 1949 Zemaiciu Kalvarija seven-year school was founded in the premises of the former Marians’Monastery. There were a lot of interesting clubs, such as: sports, literary, drama, dancing.The headmaster of the school was L.Jonutis.
In 1954 the fourth form was opened and later it became the secondary. The headmaster was K.Kuprys,since 1965 – A.Gabsys.
In 1965 a three-storeyed school building was started on a picturesque township spot on a hill near the rivulet. In 1967 the headmaster A.Satikiene started leading the school. She has been doing it successfully for 20 years. During those years there were put up monuments to teacher A. Mika and a book-speader V.Juska, the annex with a sports hall and a cafeteria was finished.
Since 1987 the headmaster of the school was A. Gaizaitis.
When Lithuania regained its independence our school tasted the fruit of freedom. Life became more meaningful, colourful and varied. In 1991 S.Meskauskas was the headmaster of the school.
Since 2007 Mr. Z. Garbencius is the headmaster of Zemaiciu Kalvarija Secondary School.