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Celebrating 100th anniversary of T.G. Masaryk Czech School in Cicero

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Czech School T.G. Masaryk (T. G. Masaryk Free Thinking School Association) in Cicero, a suburb of Chicago, this important Czech – American organization was awarded the medal of "Merit for Diplomacy 2021". At the end of this school year, students planted a memorial linden tree in the school garden. The ceremony with the students cultural performance  under the guidance of their teachers was also attended by Consul General Jaroslav Kantůrek, members of the school board and representatives of the city of Cicero. Further celebrations and cultural projects will continue in the 2021/22 school year, including the planned Conference of Czech Schools in the USA and Canada in June 2022.

The TG Masaryk Free Thinking School Association (TGM) is a non-profit organization founded by Czech immigrants, representatives of the Bohemian Freethinkers movement, in 1921. The same year, the association sponsored the construction of a three-story building in Cicero, a Chicago suburb. This bulding has been serving the comminity ever since without interruption. This makes it one of the oldest Czech cultural, educational and community centers in the United States. The association operates according to the original rules, last amended in 2015, and in Czech it uses the designation Patronage, which reflects current events in the TGM. In addition to teaching Czech language to children and adults, the association functions as an umbrella organization for Czech community schools, whose buildings have already disappeared. For example, it runs the Jan Neruda Club - a program for seniors who survived the building of the institution of the same name. Members of the Czechoslovak Society of America lodges meet at TGM. This fraternal organization, now operating in 22 US states, was founded by Missouri Czechs in 1854. The largest heritage room is used by the Czechoslovak Heritage Museum.

As one of the last Czech - American organizations of its kind with such a rich history, the Czech School of TGM in its current form is enjoyed and supported by Czech – Americans who immigrated to the USA after the Velvet revolution, but also by many Czech Americans of older generations. Therefore, the community is willing to support the school not only by participating in cultural and educational events, but also financially. This is evidenced by the amounts that the school has been collecting for the third year in a row as part of its summer collections to repair the school building that has not been maintained for many years. The complete renovation of the roof, heating system, social and community spaces was supported by compatriots in the amount of almost 2 million Czech crowns. TGM also regularly applies for financial donations from the government's Czech Cultural Heritage Support Program Abroad, mainly for educational and cultural activities.

In 2011, the building was in danger of being demolished for financial reasons. The school board wanted to sell the land in order to build a parking lot. Thanks to a team of teachers and volunteers, today the original building with a garden serves as a teaching center for 80 bilingual children aged 6–14, and there are also Czech as a foreign language courses for adult students. TGM pupils and students have the opportunity to attend Czech language courses as part of summer classes, which have been taking place for one month since 2016 in cooperation with the Institute of Czech Language and Theory of Communication at Charles University. In addition to teaching the language, the school organizes a rich range of cultural activities (exhibitions, presentations, reading workshops, concerts, screenings), participates in projects of other Czech associations in Chicago, but also cooperates with American cultural organizations. Since 2015, TGM has been organizing a two-week sightseeing trip to the Czech Republic for second and third generation Czech - Americans called Around the Czech Republic.

The organizational structure of TGM is identical to American non-profit organizations. The school committee consists mainly of second and third generation Czechs. The role of president is currently held by Andrew Bultas, the vice president is Klára Moldová. The school board has other members - delegates of Czech and Czechoslovak associations, whose task is to inform their organizations about what is happening at TGM.

Mgr. Klára Moldová has been posted here as a teacher by the Czech Cultural Heritage Support Program Abroad. The post of the teacher is provided by the House of Foreign Cooperation in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education. Since 2012, TGM has been coordinating the Conference of Czech Schools in North America - every year in cooperation with a different Czech community school. Ms. Klára Moldová also founded the web platform www.czechschoolsamerica.org. It provides the most up-to-date overview of Czech community schools and universities where Czech is taught in North America. Last year, prof. Irena Čajková restored Czech courses at the University of Chicago. Ms. Čajková has also been working as a teacher at TGM for over ten years and her professional and social commitment significantly contributes to the good name of the school.

In the last two years, due to the pandemic, some of the above activities did not take place and conferences of Czech schools took place virtually, in 2021 even with the participation of other Czech schools from around the world. Both online conferences received an extraordinary response.

Through its educational and cultural activities and coordination role in organizing the Conference of Czech Schools in North America, the Czech TGM School makes a significant and long-term contribution to spreading the good name of the Czech Republic abroad. It improves the knowledge of Czech language for children and adults, maintains awareness of the traditions, culture and history of the Czech Republic. Some graduates of language courses at the Czech TGM School have been accepted by universities in the Czech Republic. The Czech TGM School cooperates, for example, on some public diplomacy projects with the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Chicago, and more recently also on virtual projects and in organizing and sharing online events.

The medal awarded by the Minister of Foreign Affairs is thus a significant award for 100 years of dedicated work for the traditional Czech community in the Chicago area and in the last decade for the modern community of Czechs living throughout North America in teaching Czech.


School address: 5701 W 22nd Place, Cicero, Illinois 60804, United States





Česká škola TGM v Ciceru si připomíná 100. výročí založení