Stiftsgymnasium Admont: When tradition meets innovation
Monasteries have been running schools and imparting knowledge since the Middle Ages. A tradition that the Benedictine monastery in Admont continues to this day. Teaching is based on modern methods and a mission statement based on Christian values. The Benedictine monk Father Johannes Aichinger is a priest and religious education teacher. He has been teaching at the Stiftsgymnasium in Admont for almost 25 years. Just like the Benedictine monastery itself, this private Catholic school can look back on a long history.
The 375th anniversary of the Stiftsgymnasium was celebrated in 2019. Its foundation dates back to the 17th century. "A time when the need for education had grown," says Father Johannes. It is obvious to the Benedictine monk that Admont Abbey in particular responded to this demand: "Education has been provided here since the monastery was founded in 1074. Education was not a common good back then. Only monks and nuns who studied the Holy Scriptures could read and write. They passed on their knowledge in monastery schools."
A tradition that Admont's Benedictines continue to this day. In 1644, the former Latin school became a monastery grammar school. Over the course of time, the educational establishment was constantly expanded - both in terms of space and content. After all, the "aspect of innovation should always be kept in mind", as Father Johannes emphasises. The monastery has invested 6.5 million euros in the Stiftsgymnasium in recent years. The result: a modern and light-flooded school building with state-of-the-art technology. And the educational approach also follows a modern mission statement: learning to live, attentiveness, trust and respect, seeking God, community. "These are the five principles according to which we try to organise everyday school life," says Father Johannes. The principle of correlation comes into play in his lessons, says the religious education teacher: "It is important to me to establish a relationship between the message of the church and the lives of the pupils." A method of Catholic religious education, according to which a living, Christian faith is not just based on the mere adoption of religious doctrine, but must be experienced individually. Pupils at the Stiftsgymnasium in Admont are therefore not only encouraged to learn Christian principles of faith, but also to scrutinise them critically. "It is important to bear in mind the Greek origin of "criticism": (to) divide. In the words of the Apostle Paul: Examine all things and hold on to what is good," emphasises Father Johannes.
Giving confidence, taking up ideas
The school offers three educational programmes. The grammar school with a language focus starts with Latin or Italian from year three. In year five, there is a choice between French and Latin. In the Realgymnasium, the focus is on geometric drawing, scientific exercises in the lower school and the subjects of computer science and descriptive geometry in the upper school. There are also laboratory units in biology, chemistry and physics in years 5 to 8. The Realgymnasium is also particularly proud of its music programme, which includes instrumental lessons as well as choral singing and in-depth lessons in music and music theory. Annual highlights: the annual concert of the swing orchestra and the performance of a musical that has been rehearsed over several months. "We want to take up the students' ideas and give them the confidence to tackle and realise projects like these," says Father Johannes.
A trust that not only bears musical fruit. The pupils have also organised charity events, such as the charity run to support the Romanian school project "Future for People on the Edge", the child protection centre in Liezen and the school start-up aid from the Anasia Lions Club.
Although Stiftsgymnasium Admont is a private Catholic school, pupils of other denominations are also welcome. Those who do not belong to a religious community are integrated into the Catholic religious education programme. International exchange is also encouraged at the Stiftsgymnasium in Admont. Pupils who would like to improve their language skills and gain new experiences have the opportunity to spend time abroad. "As an abbey grammar school, we have contacts with many Catholic schools in other countries, which always results in student exchanges," says Father Johannes. Young people from the sixth form often visit a Benedictine school in England.
Carried through life by God
In almost 25 years of teaching, Father Johannes has already been able to accompany many young people on their journey through life. What does he want to give them for life? "Through my religious education lessons, I want to give young people a clear basis for making a decision in favour of the Catholic faith and a friendly image of the Church. I hope that the experiences they have had at the Stiftsgymnasium in Admont will give them a sense that faith in God can carry them through life."