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830 years of Małachowianka – Poland’s oldest school

23.06.2010 Universities
"You're like a great, old tree, guarding the history and tradition" - said during the celebration of 830th anniversary of Małachowianka in Płock, Poland’s oldest school, the school principal Renata Kutyło-Utzig. The celebration is accompanied by the 17th Reunion of Małachowiaki, school graduates and teachers. The first such meeting was held in 1894.
Currently named Marshal Stanislaw Malachowski High School, commonly called the Małachowianka, the school received this name by resolution of the City of Płock Council in 1921. The school was founded in 1180 by St. Michael Collegiate, as a foundation of Dobiechna, widow of Wojsław, guardian of Bolesław III, Polish ruler buried in the crypt of the cathedral of Płock. Since then, many times rebuilt, the school has existed continuously in the same location. It is also one of the oldest schools in Europe.

During Saturday's celebration of 830th anniversary of Małachowianka near the school viridarium an obelisk was unveiled with the inscription: "Dobiechna. Foundress of the collegiate church of St. Michael - 1180". Mazovia voivodeship marshal Adam Struzik awarded Małachowianka with commemorative medal Pro Mazovia in recognition of outstanding services to the region.

"Throughout the centuries, this school has educated many good, wise people who have contributed to the development of our country. There were heroic times and the times of daily, normal work, times of lack of sovereignty and its recovery" - said Struzik at the ceremony. He added that the contribution of teachers and graduates of Małachowianka to the development of Płock, Mazovia and Poland is today a symbol.

Małachowianka graduates participating in the anniversary celebrations included the members of the last anti-communist youth organization - "Children of Płock Region", banned in 1954 by the Office of Security. The organization was founded in 1953 on the initiative of Małachowianka students and eventually had about 15 members, also bringing together students of other schools in Płock. Its members printed and distributed anti-communist leaflets and painted anti-communist slogans on walls.

"The year was 1953, probably early March. That was when the organization was founded. There were five of us classmates. We listened to Radio Free Europe and BBC, we talked about the situation in Poland, around us, the difficulties of everyday life, but also about Katyń, the truth of which was then officially being covered. It made us angry. We began to distribute leaflets, paint slogans on walls"- recalled in an interview with PAP 74-year-old Wiesław Nowakowski, co-founder of the "Children of Płock Region", the deputy commander of the organization led by Wojciech Rydzewski.

Nowakowski told that after the arrests in September 1954, most members of the organization ended up in "Toledo" prison, Praga district of Warsaw, and after conviction to a penalty of one to six years imprisonment, in the beginning of 1955, in the camp in Jaworzno working in the mine.

"I was released in 1956, after the amnesty" - added Nowakowski. He admitted that after being released from prison schoolmates from the organization "Children of Płock Region" were not meeting for a long time. "We agreed that we would not meet for several months, for security reasons. But later we kept in touch as brothers, and have been keeping in touch until now" - said Nowakowski, who met his surviving colleagues at the reunion of Małachowiaki.

To this day, preserved are the foundations of early medieval church of St. Michael, which was the beginning of Małachowianka. This oldest preserved part of the school can be seen in the school museum, located in the basement. Also preserved are the fifteenth-century tower and the seventeenth-century wing of the Jesuit College, existing from 1611 until the second half of the eighteenth century. Then the school was taken over the National Education Commission, giving it the status of inter-faculty state school. In the nineteenth century the institution functioned as a secondary school, and from 1914-1921 was named the Polish School.

School lecturers included: professor of rhetoric St. Andrzej Bobola (c. 1591-1657), Wojciech Szweykowski (1773-1838) - the first rector of the University of Warsaw, and the graduates: Hieronim Napoleon Bońkowski (1807-1886), later a teacher of children of Adam Mickiewicz, Honorat Koźmiński (1829-1916) declared blessed by Pope John Paul II, the president of the Second Republic of Poland, professor at the Lviv Polytechnic - Ignacy Mościcki (1867-1946), Colonel ao Aviation, participant of the Battle of Britain, commander of the Polish wing and the famous 303 Squadron - Jan Zumbach (1915-1986), and Tadeusz Mazowiecki (b. 1927) - The first Prime Minister of the Third Republic of Poland. MB

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland

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