Welcome March! As we enter the third month of 2023, I hope that the year has delivered on its promise of renewal and hope. Nature reminds us of God’s choicest blessings of the Spring season and so, remember that every day is a new start and the challenges we encounter are followed by strength and knowledge.

Although we know that the month is synonymous with Employee Appreciation Day (3/4), Casimir Pulaski’s birth (March 6,1745), International Women’s Day (3/8), Saints Patrick (3/17) and Joseph (3/19) feast days, the beginning of Spring (3/21), it is also the birth month of many of our PRCUA family and friends. Best wishes to all, especially past PRCUA Secretary-Treasurer Josephine “Joyce” Szarowicz on her 80th birthday (Joyce shares the date of 3/17 with daughter Joy), National Director Greg Olma (3/4) and past Director Anna Krysinski (3/1).  “Our age is merely the number of years the world has been enjoying us!” (Maxine). [In that case, we have been enjoying granddaughter Ariana for the last 7 years (3/4) and niece Kayla for 23 years (3/24) – Happy Birthday!]

It is in March that we look forward to the annual Fashion Show hosted by the Adult Culture Group of PRCUA (3/12); many Michigan School Recitals: Opole and Zajaczek (3/18), Gwiazda, Malbork and Tatry (3/25) and Halka (3/26); the PRCUA National Basketball Tournament hosted by the Opole Dancers (3/24-3/25); and the annual Blessing of the Michigan Polish Dance Schools and Groups (3/19). Best of luck to all the Debutantes, especially our PRCUA members – Veronica Chudoba, Julie Chyzynski, and Emilia Radlinski, who will be presented to society at the upcoming White and Red Ball sponsored by the Legion of Young Polish Women (3/4). Jaclyn Krysinski (Artistic Director and Choreographer of Polonia Ensemble) serves as this year’s Chairperson.

As we remember to Spring forward on March 12 (Daylight Savings Time begins), let’s review the happenings since my last article. It was Bon Voyage for Richard and me as we set sail for the Virgin Islands on a cruise followed by a short stay in my happy place – Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This break in the midst of winter was indeed the cure for the winter blues. January ended with the President and First Lady of PRCUA attending the Evening of Elegance by the Chicago Society at Allegra Banquets (1/24) and the Studniówka (senior prom symbolizing 100 days before the final exam) on January 28 at the Oak Brook Drury Lane, Oak Brook, Illinois, attended by all local Polish high school graduates-to-be, sponsored by the Polish Teachers Association and hosted this year by the Czeslaw Milosz Polish School in Schaumburg (Anna Dunajewski, School Director). Attending the event on behalf of the PRCUA was Secretary-Treasurer Agnieszka Bastrzyk who also presented the PRCUA-sponsored scholarship check to “one of the best of the best” students, Gabriela Zujko from the Tadeusz Kosciuszko Polish School. Of those Polish schools under the patronage of PRCUA, the Maria Konopnicka Polish School invited Mrs. Bastrzyk for a souvenir photo of the grand event in the year of PRCUA’s 150th anniversary. Thank you to School Board President Joanna Niedzielski and School Director Rafal Zachara for including our Secretary-Treasurer and congratulations to the 2023 Graduates. Performing an Oberek/Kujawiak at the event were Marianna Mosz and Mateusz Szabla, 2023 graduates, representing the Polonia Ensemble of PRCUA.

Meanwhile, also on January 28 but in Cleveland, Ohio, PRCUA member Olivia Gutowski was presented at the Crystal Debutante and Cavalier Ball. Past National Director of District 5, Dr. Mitchell Bienia, is the Chair Emeritus of this event and was instrumental in Olivia’s participation. I direct your attention to the article written by Olivia regarding the “Crystal” Ball on p. 16 of this issue of the Narod Polski. PRCUA Director D-5, Thomas Jesionowski, attended the event.

President Robaczewski had an opportunity for a meet and greet with Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias on the first Thursday in February.

Many annual school dances occur during Carnival season and this February was no different. February 4, President and Mrs. James Robaczewski together with Director D-7 Ewa Cholewinski attended Polonia Ensemble’s Mardi Gras dance at Crystal Palace Banquets, Mt. Prospect, Illinois. Anna Krysinski serves as the Executive Director of the Ensemble and chaired the event. I direct you to photos and an article in this issue of the Narod Polski.

Same date, different location: the Zajaczek Dancers held its annual dance at the American Polish Century Club in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Director D-10 Colleen Bonkowski also serves as the dance group’s managing director. Details and photos to follow.

There is a French saying, “jamais deux sans trois” (never twice without a third): also on the first Saturday of February, National Director D-8 Elizabeth Dynowski joined Richard and me at the Maria Konopnicka Polish School Mardi Gras dance at Paradise Elegant Banquets in Bridgeview, Illinois. PRCUA Wesoly Lud dancers (Richard Jaminski, Artistic Director and Choreographer) were asked to perform I want to acknowledge the efforts of Joann Niedzielski, President of Konopnicka, for the school and PRCUA. She is ending her term as School Board President. We will keep her busy within District 8. School Director Rafal Zachara delivered a short, witty greeting to the parents and guests and I see a great future for him! Photo #5, 6 Enroute (Photos courtesy of the Krolikowski’s).

The weekend of February 10, 11 and 12 was equally busy: With the 70th Anniversary of the Polish Teachers Association (PTA), there was a two-day event – one at the Copernicus Center coordinated with the year dedicated to the Astronomer in the year of his 550th birth and 480th death as well as a banquet at Victoria in the Park in Mount Prospect, Illinois. At the former, the Polonia Ensemble of PRCUA performed. Many dignitaries from Poland representing political, cultural, educational and scientific avenues were in town, and as customary, a visit to the Polish Museum of America is on their agenda. On February 10, this visit was spearheaded by the President of Stowarzyszenie Wspólnota Polska, Dariusz Piotr Bonisławski together with several of the guests. It was the second time that PRCUA hosted President Bonisławski at its headquarters, but the first for others in his entourage. This recent impromptu meet and greet with our distinguished guests in the historic boardroom of PRCUA was truly a pleasure. President Robaczewski spoke of the history of PRCUA and the Boardroom. I have had the pleasure of meeting President Bonisławski during the 2019 Rzeszów Festival at which Wesoły Lud was awarded its second gold medal from Wspólnota Polska. We thank the PMA with President Richard Owsiany and Managing Director Małgorzata Kot at the helm, for always including the PRCUA in such important visits.

Other events during this second weekend of February included Mardi Gras balls at the St. Rafal Kalinowski Polish School (Yolanta Czosnyka, Director) in Munster, Indiana; and the Zbigniew Herbert (Irena Wozniak, Director) and St. John Paul II (Halina Szyrzna, Director) Schools both at Crystal Grand Banquets in Lemont, Illinois. At the Kalinowski School event, President and Mrs. Robaczewski enjoyed the festivities including a performance by the Mała Polska Dancers (Agata Wilgocki, Artistic Director and Choreographer). In my absence due to a family medical crisis, District 8 Secretary and Wesoły Lud Assistant Danielle Kroplewski with a performance by the Wesoly Lud Dance Company attended the Herbert School Zabawa, and Director D-8 Myron Cislo with his wife Beth at the JPII event and a performance by the Polanie Dancers (Michael Dziadkowiec, Artistic Director and Choreographer).

On Sunday, February 12, Secretary-Treasurer Agnieszka Bastrzyk represented PRCUA together with Directors Elizabeth Dynowski (D-8) and Ewa Cholewinski (D-7) at the forementioned Polish Teachers Association Banquet where President of the PTA, Ewa Koch, accepted the Gold Medal from Wspólnota Polska among other accolades.

Shrovetide, “Zapusty” or “Śledzik” are old Polish customs celebrated at the end of the carnival season. In many regions of Poland, people disguised themselves as a mischievous goat; an annoying and noisy shaggy animal called a “Turoń”; a devil; an old man; an old woman, a bear or even death with a scythe. Musicians accompanied these masqueraders, playing to dance and creating background music for the events happening at the moment. When he received his invitation from the Chicago Society to a “Śledź”, President Robaczewski’s curiousity was peaked and on Wednesday, February 15, he and Mrs. Robaczewski attended the “Sledź at Allegra Banquets in Schiller Park, Illinois. The event was a fun-filled evening mixing tradition with the present.

“Hi, Mr. Robaczewski, it’s nice to see you here!” said a familiar voice at an event attended by our President on Saturday, February 18. Jim and his sons, Tommy and Joey, who pay with the Notre Dame High School Band participated in the 43rd Annual State of the Art Catholic Band Competition on Saturday, February 18, which featured Catholic High School Bands from the Chicago area. The “fan” was Jakub Niedzielski, a member of the Brother Rice High School Band (also 2023 Prince Charming Runner-up, Wesoły Lud dancer and M. Konopnicka Polish High School Graduate). It was a photo op for these four handsome gentlemen.

The month of February came to a close with the 32nd Shirley Ann Galanty Michigan State Ball at the San Marino Club in Troy, Michigan. The 2023 graduates of the Michigan Dance Schools and Groups were dressed to the nines and impressed their families and friends much to the satisfaction and pride of their school directors and dance instructors. The choreographer of the dance program is Kelly Malinowski who has proudly and ably filled her mother’s shoes. The ball committee is comprised of all the Michigan school directors. A sincere congratulations to all participants and best of luck to the Graduates on their journey to greatness. President Robaczewski and I together with my husband, Richard, attended the event on behalf of Home Office; District 10 Directors, Valerie Brumm and Colleen Bonkowski, together with a cast of past D-10 Directors attended as well. Following is a list of the graduates. From the Halka Dancers (Laura Hejza, Director; Thomas Lisiecki, Instructor): Miranda Elizabeth Barba, Lauren Marie Bartkiewicz, Julia Madeline Brown, Catherine Grace Krass, Brooke Barbara McPherson, and Christian Michael Palencik. From the Opole Dancers (Elizabeth Thacker, Director; Donna Skurski, Instructor): Marissa Nicole Harenski, Emily Jane Mandziuk, Paige Clara Milot, and Sabina Ania Sawicki. From the Polskie Maki Dancers (Maria Jalkiewicz, Director; Kelly Malinowski, Instructor): Brooke Lynn Wojciechowski. From the Rogalin Dance Troupe (Lisa Brandt, Director; Janet Vilag and Barbara Toboy, Instructors): Liliana Rose Avis-Lopez, Zosia Marie Margaret Cornell, Erin Marie Truskowski, and Noah Matthew Zapinski. From the Tatry Dancers (Gail Esker, Director; Karen Lubiarz, Instructor): Evan Joseph Lubiarz, Alexandra Adele Schade, and Kiera Jaclyn Skurnit. From the Wieliczka Dancers (Kristi Mihalic, Director; Tommy Szczesny, Instructor): Dianna Marie Johnson. From the Zajączek Dancers (Colleen Bonkowski, Director; Tricia Dennis and Rachael Kasperek, Instructors): Brooklyn Christine Hess.

It is with a heavy heart that we extend our sincere condolences to past Director – D-6, Sharon Haberski and her family, on the passing of her beloved husband, Steve, on February 19. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord.

On the Friday before his 30th birthday (3/6), the PRCUA staff spearheaded by Julie Prado, Anna Grabowski and Conrad Wiecek, surprised New Business Associate Mateusz Bomba with a Baby Shower. His lovely wife, Victoria, surprised him by attending as well. We are happy to report that the shower was a huge success and so was the birth of Milena Łucja Bomba, born on February 16 weighing 8 lbs. 12 oz. and 21 inches long. Congratulations to the happy parents, grandparents and family!

Happy Women’s Day! Happy Spring! Don’t forget Daylight Savings Time!