The Cistercian Grammar School of St István
The oldest and largest secondary school of Székesfehérvár is that of the grammar school of the Cistercian Abbey of Zirc.
On 2nd January 1702 the Jesuits opened their private school which then consisted of only four classes. In 1707 the school closed down due to lack of student numbers, and only on 6th November 1724 did it open its doors again. To begin with it had four classes and then from 1737 the number of classes increased to six. The running of the school remained in the hands of the Jesuit monks until 1773.
Between 1776 and 1786 the Paulist priests took in hand the work of education and training. When King József II disbanded the monastic orders, the school was renamed the Royal Grammar School of Hungary. The principal was a Piarist priest. However, the disbanding of the monastic orders has caused a crisis in education and so King Ferenc I. in 1802 restored permission for the functioning of some of the monastic orders and wanted to put the grammar school of Székesfehérvár in the hands of the Benedictines. He did not succed in this, and so Antal Dréta, governing prior of Zirc, in 1810 asked the governors to entrust the running of the grammar schools of Székesfehérvár and Pécs to the monks of Zirc. This happened in fact in 1813.
The first principal of the Cistercian grammar school of Székesfehérvár was Ferdinánd Villax who later, between 1826 and 1857 was abbot of Zirc. The name of the school at that time was the Cistercian Order's Head Grammar School of Székesfehérvár. In 1921 the school was renamed: The Cistercian Order's St István Grammar School, according to the wishes of Dr Remig Békefi, abbot of Zirc.
In 1937 the Abbey of Zirc bought a piece of ground on which they built a new school which they handed over on 8th September 1939. The building work was entirely completed only in 1941. There was a new school system introduced in 1945 consisting of primary education taking 8 years and grammar school of four years' duration. To comply with this the grammar school was reorganised as from the 1945/46 school year, and it operated as the Cistercian's St István Grammar School and Primary School.
The Cistercians' education and training work in the Christian spirit lasted until June 1948. The Church schools were then taken over by the government. From 1948 the school continued to operate under the name of the National St István Grammar School.
In 1950 it was combined with the Miklós Ybl Grammar School and was named after Attila József. The education it gave continued to be acknowledged all over the country for its high standards with the introduction of a variety of subjects in natural science and languages. In 1992 with the change of the political system the first "Cistercian class" could start and this was the first class that worked under the eight school year system.
On 25th February 1994 István Balsay, town mayor, and Dr Károly Kerekes abbot of Zirc signed an agreement regarding public education. With this the maintenance and operation of the grammar school that was already the property of the Abbey of Zirc was transferred into the hand of the abbot of Zirc. Dr Ferenc Polikárp Zakar, arch-abbot of Zirc, in his capacity as the upkeeper of the school, reinstated the former name of the school with effect from 1st February 2000, and it is again called the Cistercian St István Grammar School.
The web page of the school is: http://www.cisztergimn-szfvar.hu