Student Erasmus mobility in Wellington School, Ayr in Scotland

Happy Participants – the Slovene gorup with Scottish Teachers

We are happy to report that a project meeting of Small Countries Strong Cultures took place in Scotland from 21st-25th August 2022. It was a happy and fruitful reunion of about 40 Scottish (Wellington School, Ayr), Belgian (Sint-Jozefsinstituut College, Torhout) and Slovene (St. Stanislav’s Institution) students after a two-year break due to Covid restrictions. Nothing compares to in-person interaction – be it learning, creating, dancing or visiting actual places. This is how one of the Slovene participants experienced the exchange:

“This Erasmus exchange was one of my best experiences ever. Not only did I learn something new about the Scottish culture and its people’s lifestyles, but I also gained precious knowledge of travelling on my own and socializing. It was only my second time going on an exchange so I still had some fears to overcome. But we had a lot of organized activities and it was a shorter exchange, so this made it easier. Almost all of our activities were done in groups with members from all three participating countries, so we got to know each other a little bit and make some new friendships. It was really easy to communicate with some, while others took more effort and because we only had 3 whole days I didn’t get the chance to meet everyone. Nonetheless, I made a few new friends and tested my social skills as I tried to talk to as many people as possible. Each day was interesting but I remember the most Tuesday when we visited the Sky academy and the city of Edinburg. At the academy we filmed our very own news report which was really exciting. I had the role of a producer in my team so I had to make sure everything went smoothly and had to shout out the words ACTION and CUT during filming. I forgot to say cut almost every time so members of my team were not particularly happy with my job. But it worked out fine and watching the whole report together was really fun. Later we went to Edinburgh and visited the Scottish Parliament, which I liked very much. There was a lot of trash on the streets but we knew that it was because of the bin strike. Otherwise it was really nice and I enjoyed all the historical buildings. One of my absolute favourite activities were also the Scottish dances, ceilidh . They were energetic and really relaxing once you’ve learned them. This was a perfect end to the exchange. I think everybody really enjoyed this short stay in Scotland. From its rich culture to funny-sounding but difficult-to-play bag pipes to its friendly people and beautiful countryside. I hope I will be able to visit it again.” /Rubin Bervar, Lily Schweiger Kotar/

Leadership Change in The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium

Rihard Režek

At the beginning of August 2022, a change in leadership took place in the community of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium. Simon Feštanj, B.A., ceased the employment of The Head Master of The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium and the position was trusted to Rihard Režek, M.Sc.

After nine years of being the Head, Mr Feštanj sees his job as “very satisfying”, feeling grateful for all the opportunities of cooperation and challenges that were brought about. He welcomed the new Head by saying: “I believe he will perform his duties with a lot of vigour, all by fulfilling the Institution’s mission.” Mr. Feštanj will remain a teacher and collaborator in St. Stanislav’s Institution.

Mr Režek is an economist by profession. At the University of Maribor, Faculty of Economics and Business he earned his master’s degree. He taught at High School of Administration in Ljubljana for 15 years, during which he assumed various leading and teaching related tasks. In 2018 he was appointed the Head Master of Jeglič Student Home and a year later the Head of The Janez F. Gnidovec Residence Hall. He is a husband and a father of two daughters, who loves family life, reading and dancing.

He believes that for the student of The DCG the most fundamental element in the process of education is being a part of the school community. The three pillars of the DCG are the classical, spiritual and creative aspect of teachers’ and students’ common endeavours. They ensure quality and well-rounded education in which everybody feels valued. Tradition still shapes some of the guiding principles here, but we seek to be looking to the future. A happy and responsible young person who is ready to make a positive contribution to the world is at the heart of school’s interest.

We wish Mr Režek all the best on his new mission and trust God’s peace with watch over him and his work. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

Marija S. Benedičič wins bronze at The 33rd International Biology Olympiad in Yerevan, Armenia

The Great Four from Slovenia, Marija is second from the left

Marija Snežna Benedičič, The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium graduate, with three other representatives from Slovenia, achieved an outstanding success at the Biology Olympiad, which was scheduled from 10-18 July 2022 at Yerevan State University in Armenia. St. Stanislav’s Institution is extremely proud of the Slovene team and especially Marija for winning the third place and being such an enthusiastic, all-round knowledge ambassador. International Biology Olympiad (IBO) brings together gifted students from all over the world, thus promoting their future careers as scientists.

This is how Marija herself has risen to the above challenge: “Competing at the IBO was truly an incredible experience and it was so much more than just a competition. It was a setting where CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology was an excellent conversation starter and a place where I was able to share my passion for science and biology with other students. I loved spending time with my peers from all around the world, learning about their paths to the IBO, their interests and future aspirations. Their knowledge and determination were so inspiring and motivating, encouraging me to keep learning and bettering myself.

We were also taken on many excursions around Yerevan to learn about Armenian history, culture, language and manuscripts, and of course about their biodiversity. The Armenians are really proud of their country and culture, always willing to share some of their knowledge with the tourists. After an intense week of exams, excursions, sightseeing and interesting conversations, winning a bronze medal was truly the cherry on top of the cake and I am incredibly grateful for having had the opportunity to participate at an event like this.”

With empathetic and knowledgeable future scientists like Marija and the Slovene team, there is not much mankind should worry about! /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

Standing Ovations for La Damnation de Faust © FB Ljubljana Festival

In the line with the above Faust’s quote by Goethe the community of St. Stanislav’s Institution is extremely proud to announce that both St. Stanislav Youth Choir of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium and Megaron Chamber Choir participated at one of the highlights of the 70th Ljubljana Festival, namely in the opera La Damnation de Faust by Hector Berlioz under the baton of Charles Dutoit, presently one of the most esteemed conductors. The impressive performance took place on 15th July, 2022 in Cankarjev dom, Slovenia’s main cultural and congress centre.

At the time when this extensive vocal-instrumental work was written, it was considered eccentric, nevertheless, Berlioz dealt with an ever-green theme of the price of the human soul based on Goethe’s play. Both the above-mentioned choirs under the conductorship of Damijan Močnik had the honour of rehearsing and learning from two other Slovene choirs, the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra and the phenomenal quartet of soloists: the French mezzosoprano Sophie Koch (Marguerite), British tenor Charles Workman (Faust), Canadian bass-baritone John Relyea (Méphistophélès) and British baritone Ashley Riches (Brander). This offered a unique opportunity for the choirs to show their strengths in acting with their voices and ability to sing in French. St. Stanislav Youth Choir and Megaron Chamber Choir – congratulations on the amazing perfomance! You definitely fed the audience’s imagination, both with musical and life matters./Lily Schweiger Kotar/

St. Stanislav Youth Choir of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium on a tour in Trenčin, Slovakia

St. Stanislav Youth Choir of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium in Trenčin

St. Stanislav Youth Choir of the DCG hit the road after a long break and spend some choral quality time from 24th-27th June 2022 in Trenčin. The singers under the conductorship of Damijan Močnik, mostly rehearsed for evening concerts and sang at masses, which took place in Ilova and Trenčin.

It was especially touching to meet welcoming students and stuff from Piaristické gymnázium Jozefa Braneckého /Piaristic Gymnasium Jozef Braneckého, with who the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium has had a long tradition of common music making and fruitful cooperation. That day started with the choir participation in the liturgical singing in the parish church of Narodenia Panny Marie/The Birth of The Virgin Mary. The highlight was definitely the joint concert of the school’s Choir Piarissimo and St. Stanislav Youth Choir. The enthusiastic audience applauded loudly and both choirs wrapped up the evening with Nech ten chram, which has become almost a hymn of joyful friendship between both schools and nations.

Apart from singing, the tour was the time for the graduates of The DCG to bid goodbye from the choir, for everybody to unwind a bit while sightseeing or enjoying the last day visit in an aquapark. The most promising thought remains though that the Slovaks are to be hosted next year in Ljubljana. We are looking forward to it!/Marjetka Kozmus/

The 25th Anniversary Concert Leaves a Heartfelt Musical Mark and Introduces a New School Name  

Community of The Matija Tomc Music School Has Been a Joyous Site for 25 Years

The official name of The Music School is now The Matija Tomc Music School, after the priest, teacher of music at the pre-war Diocesan Classical Gymnasium and prolific composer Matija Tomc. He felt great passion for choir singing and was also professor of organ at The Academy of Music, University of Ljubljana.

The jubilee year has been marked by several events, of which the most outstanding are the solemn celebration in November under the central theme of “Do we read each other?” and the above mentioned jubilee concert in May. The key speaker at the concert was the headmaster of The Matija Tomc Music School Daniel Eyer, B.A., who spoke highly of the remarkable trace and countless music events of artistic excellence that the community of teachers, students and alumni have created over a quarter of a century. “Students’ openness and readiness for work are not surprising, as teachers’ commitment, competence and focus are to be admired on a daily basis.” On the occasion of the silver jubilee The Matija Tomc Music School recognised high achievers in the field of music, who have been fostering harmony for the last 25 years. They have been playing different musical instruments, namely the piano, jazz piano, violin, viola, flute, recorder, accordion, horn, trumpet, guitar, organ, zither, voice and performing jazz singing. Long live music in St. Stanislav’s Institution! /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

Matej Lukan to participate at The International Geography Olympiad 2022 in Paris

Matej Lukan – National Champion in Geography

Matej Lukan, The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium graduate, is to represent Slovenia at the 18th Geography Olympiad, which should be held in Paris, but due to the strict Covid related regulations put in place in France, the competition will be held online. International Geography Olympiad (IGO) stimulates active interest in geographical and environmental studies among young people, contributes positively to debate about the importance of geography. Such events as also facilitate social contacts between young people from different countries and in doing so, contribute to the understanding between nations. It was first held in 1996 and is held in a different country each year.

The IGO is an annual competition for the best 16-19 year old geography students from all over the world. Students chosen to represent their countries are the very best and we are extremely proud that two of the DCG students, namely Lara Celar (year 3) and Matej Lukan (year 4), took the gold at national competition. Moreover, Matej became the national champion in geography, excelling other competitors, which qualified him for the IGO. The IGO consists of three parts: a written test, a multimedia test and substantial fieldwork requiring observation, leading to cartographic representation and geographical analysis.

Matej Petrevčič, B.Sc., Geography teacher at the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium, is Lara’s and Matej’s mentor and it has to be admitted he shared and passed on most effectively his knowledge of geography. The community of St. Stanislav’s is proud of both Matej and Lara for their outstanding success and wish Matej all the best at the online Olympiad in Paris. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

Marija S. Benedičič qualified for International Biology Olympiad in Yerevan, Armenia

Marija Snežna Benedičič, the champion

Marija Snežna Benedičič, The Diocesan Classical Gymnasium graduate, joined four other representatives from Slovenia to participate at the 33rd Biology Olympiad, which is scheduled from 10-18 July 2022 at Yerevan State University in Armenia. International Biology Olympiad (IBO) brings together gifted students from all over the world and challenges them to expand their talents, which promotes their future careers as scientists. The organizers claim that one of the important aspects of the IBO 2022 is bioinformatics, a broad scientific research field that combines Biology, Computer Science, Data Science, Mathematics and Statistics. Bioinformatics is in fact essential for the management of data in modern Biology and Medicine.

After competing successfully at the national level, Marija Snežna was chosen to join online preparations for the big event, taking part in the competition on 21st May 2022 at the Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana. The practical part, which took 60 minutes, was followed by a theoretical examination, which lasted for 120 minutes. The students who qualified for the Olympiad are besides Marija Snežna Benedičič from St. Stanislav’s Institution also Urban Bauk from Poljane High School in Ljubljana, Ema Šuligoj from Tolmin High School and Urh Šarlah from First High School in Celje.

This is how Marija perceives her qualification for the Olympiad: »For me, Armenia used to be just another country on the map, another country I knew from playing that game of guessing countries’ capitals. But that has changed drastically in the past couple of weeks and I already know this country will have a special place in my heart. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to participate at the IBO and I am looking forward to travelling to Armenia, exploring the country, its history and culture, meeting other enthusiastic biology students from around the world, feeding my curiosity and furthering my knowledge.«

Brigita Brajkovič, B.Sc, and Ana Bavec, B.Sc., both biology teachers at the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium, introduced Marija most successfully to the contemporary challenges of Biology. The community of St. Stanislav’s is proud of Marija and her outstanding success and wishes her all the best at the Olympiad in Armenia. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

The Music School in St. Stanislav’s Institution Leaves a Mark – 25th Anniversary Concert

The Big Family of Musicians from The Music School in St. Stanislav’s Institution

It has been 25 years since the establishment of The Music School in St. Stanislav’s Institution. It was established by the then Archbishop of Ljubljana dr. Alojzij Šuštar. In two and a half decades the Music School has left a remarkable trace and offered countless joyous music events of artistic excellence.

The jubilee will be marked by a special anniversary concert which will take place in the Slovenian Philharmonic on 24th May 2022 at 6 p.m.. A sparkling programme features works by Bach, Corelli, Chopin, Slovene composers and as some modern beats with film music. We are delighted to include the hymn that was specially written for the occasion of 20th anniversary of Music School by Primož Bratina, pianist and piano teacher. The concert will be performed by present students – soloists, chamber ensembles, small and large string orchestra with guests from Ukraine, the pupils’ choir of music theory and solfeggio, as well as solo singers with guests.

Today The Music School under the leadership of Daniel Eyer, employs 27 teachers engaged in teaching and inspiring 240 students. Apart from musical theory, sight singing, jazz singing and preschool music, 15 instruments are taught, along with music making in chamber and large string orchestra as well as the guitar ensemble. A lot of students excel in competitions at different levels from regional to international, some take in music as a professional path in their lives and continue studies at music academies at home and abroad. /Lily Schweiger Kotar/

Caritas abundant – Love abounds at St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir Concert

St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir-Hildegard von Bingen offers the Perfect Combination of Singing, Dancing and Music Making

What does feminine approach to Medieval unison singing bring about, when singers are guided by a saint, mystic, musician, artist, poet and visionary, which Hildegard von Bingen was? St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir under the conductorship of Helena Fojkar Zupančič sang 5 of Hildegard’s songs at the concert which took place on 5th May 2022 in St. Joseph’s Church, Ljubljana. These were: Caritas Abundant /Love abounds/, O virtus Sapientiae /O Virtue of Wisdom/, De Spirito Sancto /To the Holy Spirit/, O Ignis Spiritus Paracliti /Sequence for the Holy Spirit/ and O Quam Mirabilis /Oh How Wonderful/. By doing so the choir gave rise to purity in a variety of senses: first and most importantly the purity of sound, which was clean, penetrating, yet soft. Next, there was the purity of gestures and dances – sophisticated and suggestive; never excluding and always inviting. Then there was the purity of words – all songs were sung in well-articulated Latin and finally, the most important one – the purity of message. The audience got the meaningful message across by listening to the message of love and joy. It seems they had it all in the 12th century. Above all there was no today’s redundancy of words, sounds, gestures or feelings.

Medieval mystique was musically connected with modern times through three Damijan Močnik’s pieces which were composed on the basis of Hildegarde’s lyrics and premiered at the concert. To wrap up the perfect image of a Medieval singing experience (mentored by Katarina Šter), the impeccable choreography (under supervision of Barbara Kanc) some Medieval instrumental music making (Una Košir on block flute, Urška Rihteršič on gothic harp, Tilen Udovič on fidel and Janez Jocif on tanpura, percussion, chimes) need to be mentioned. The long and loud applause suggested that the audience felt extremely thankful for a very special and long awaited evening of live singing by one of the best world choirs. What a spiritual and musical adventure! Thank you ladies! /Lily Schweiger Kotar/