The Cistercian Saint Imre Grammar School of Buda
The founding of the grammar school that is named after prince St Imre and is owned by the Cistercian Order was the idea and making of Remig Békefi, abbot of Zirc, and it praises his hard work.
The first class of the Main Grammar School of St Imre of Buda opened its year on 5th September 1912 when the abbot of Zirc said the Veni Sancte, and teaching started in the primary school of Váli Street, in the room on the III. floor with the first teaching staff (then counting 4 persons) under Illés Bitter, principal, and 48 students in the first class. With the annual addition of new entrants by 1919/1920 the grammar school developed "in total verticum" and sent the graduates on their way. By then the school became more and more known and acknowledged through its performance to a high standard in subject-craftsmanship and consistently demanding educational-pedagogy, noted even on the level of public life.
However, the World War intervened and the collapse impeded the success of the intention that the abbot of Zirc would build up the planned buildings. The huge convulsions of "the epoch of uprisings and Trianon" have not favoured the programme either.
In 1924 the "founder" abbot Remig died. His work was carried on by Adolf Werner, abbot of Zirc. For the completion of the building of the grammar school the larger portion of the funds was raised by the abbot of Zirc and the remainder of the money was provided by the state through the Minister of Education who was mentioned earlier.
The school building that is well known for its beauty was designed by Gyula Wälder, architect, university tutor, who positioned the school inspired by neo-baroque style and atmosphere, yet modern, at the foot of the hill. The works, on the side of the monastic order were directed with brilliant practical discernment by the outstanding natural scientist and excellent educator Vendel Hadarits-Endrédy (later director and then abbot of Zirc).
Work in the beautiful new school building started in September 1929, following the "resettlement" from Váli Street.
A splendid new era started, the significance of which - and this can confidently be said - reached national validity, because as a result of the remarkably high level of educational work a whole row of prominent figures in the sciences, fine arts and public life prepaired themselves here for further studies and generally "for life".
In the meantime great changes took place in the Cistercian Order and in the life of the Grammar School. The principal, Illés Bitter retired in 1938 and his successor for a short time was Vendel Hadarits-Endrédy, but - upon the demise of abbot Adolf Werner - on the 18th March 1939 he became abbot of Zirc and was elected Abbot President of the Congregation of Zirc. After that - right until the school was taken into public ownership - Frigyes Brisits filled the post of principal of the grammar school.
The St Imre Grammar School of the Cistercian Order by the 1940s became one of the best grammar schools in the country. Its pupils numbered around 800 and each year it turned out 90-100 "mature" students from between its walls.
The war - the siege - treated the building mercilessly. A bomb fell on it and it was riddled with shots, the equipment and furnishings suffered irreplaceable damage. However, the monastic order, although very much restricted in its operations, managed to restore what was most necessary, with strenuous effort from the families and students.
Teaching resumed and further outstanding achievements resulted, but in 1948 a break occurred in the continuation of the work of the Cistercian Order and its school with the taking into public ownership of the Church schools, this being one of the defining elements of the new power system. However, principal Frigyes Brisits in May 1948 at the graduating ceremony of the school-leaving classes - having been informed already of the expected nationalization - in that hopeless situation declared: "We stand here, we wait here, we are staying here!"
This declaration has since become famous. Perhaps it was a message for the future, for the hope that points beyond everything, a reference to the final meaning of things, to the final truth. The next school year was registered in the name of the "Budapest 11th district National St Imre Grammar School". From September 1950 the school was given the Attila József name.
During the ensuing decades, however, the past Cistercian tradition lived, existed, and even breathed under completely changed circumstances, naturally mixed and combined with other endeavours, peculiarities and impressions; also independently of them by itself. This peculiarity succeeded with a certain acceptance and acknowledgement in the social sphere, and it lent to the life of the Attila József Grammar School a particular appearance.
With the relaxation of the stringencies that resulted from the change in the political system an opening showed itself for the possibility of demanding the return of the former Church schools and the Cistercian Order, or rather Dr Károly Kerekes abbot of Zirc, grasped the opportunity to demand also the return of the grammar school of Buda, along with other eminent schools. From September 1992 already there were classes started under the guidance of the Church in the Attila József Grammar School, while negotiations began and continued over years with the local authority of Budapest 11th district, at which the parties included the Cistercian Order, that is the abbot of Zirc, and the supreme authority of the State, discussing in detail the procedures for handing over the school.
Finally after the progressive transfer out of the building of the Attila József Grammar School, in 1997 the Cistercian St Imre Grammar School of Buda started to function again.
The school was maintained by the Cistercian Order's Abbey of Zirc, that is Dr Ferenc Polikárp Zakar arch-abbot of Zirc, and its principal was Dr Miklós Párdányi.
Substantial change resulted from the endeavour that the school should also develop a system of training over an 8-year term. Thus beside the reduction in the symmetry of the inherited 4-year grammar school structure, in the autumn of 1998 the 8-year school term was launched - in the ascending system.
The educational programme of the school - besides the demand of a high standard of instruction in subject-content - places high priority on training, on the importance of public- mindedness; and the teaching staff (mainly civilian but committed and acknowledging and accepting the programme), in the spirit of the "Cistercian family", seriously endeavours to bring it to fruition in everyday practice.
The web page of the school is: http://www.szig.hu