First High School in Celje (I.gimnazija v Celju) is one of the oldest academic high schools in Slovenia, for it has been operating without interruption since 1808. Its life and works are pervaded by a noble, 200-year-old tradition that manifests itself through the fact that the school is demanding and of a constantly high quality, but also through its creativity, openness and comfortable ambience, which is recognizable from near and far.
In the century-old building (completed just before the First World War, in December 1913) that now houses the high school, there lives a unique spirit – the spirit of the school. This spirit is a certain something that for decades has united students and teachers into a community – and I dare say, into a family – that is proudly aware of its rich past, and yet no less aware of its present and future. It is aware of the values and achievements of its predecessors, and nourishes and respects them, while never forgetting that a good school and its future must always be formed in the here and now. With people and for people.
First High School may look august from the outside, but it is young in heart and soul. It lives with the youth of its time and not in the time of its youth. It is not a conservative and impersonal school; on the contrary, in its viewpoints, activities and pedagogical principles it is a modern school that, with much justification, has written in its vision: “We educate and nurture for life. We are creating a school for the 21st century.”
The school imparts knowledge to young people (also through the best learning technology) and when it comes to assessing it, of course, demands the same standards in return. Though this has always been the more serious, and for some also the most bothersome aspect of schooling, it offers great possibilities, opportunities and motivation for everyone to develop their potentials, interests and talents – whether these are used to promote knowledge, sport and culture, or whether they are used in the normal and usual social life that is so crucial for the development of one’s personality.
And precisely this is the most attractive aspect of our high school. The capacity of our teachers (indeed, of all those employed at the school) to listen and to understand lets our students feel accepted and respected also as people. They are given the feeling that school is truly a kind of second home; they always have someone they can turn to and never will they remain alone in the crises of their young years.
Throughout its more than two hundred year history, thousands of young people have passed through First High School in Celje. They have acquired immense knowledge for their further studies and professions, but at the same time they have developed their talents and formed their personalities. It is therefore not unusual that practically everywhere truly successful and respectable individuals are found – among the broadest range of experts, scientists, businesspeople, politicians, athletes and artists in Slovenia, but often also abroad – we encounter our students, who always state with pride: “I went to First High School, to Kajuh’s!”
First High School is much more than a mere building or an education program: this, the very first, high school in Celje has been a solid bastion of, and has gradually become synonymous with, “Sloveneness” in what was once a very German town; it is a school that has given Celje, the region of Štajerska, Slovenia, but also Europe and the world a number of leading intellectuals who have marked their times and ours – from Bishop Anton Slomšek to the Partisan and poet Karel Destovnik Kajuh, from the handball-playing brothers Žvižej and Marguč, to the kayaker Peter Kauzer, from the NBA-er Beno Udrih and the tennis player Katarina Srebotnik, to the composer Mojmir Sepet, to Franjo Bobinac, the general director of Gorenje…
These words are dedicated to the school’s past, present and future, to its image and spirit. May they find resonance in the wish that all those who attended, or would like to attend, First High School in Celje will love and respect it, just as we who are able to live its everyday life love and respect it.
dr. Anton Šepetavc, Principal of First High School in Celje
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