Thomas Mann Gymnasium
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Thomas-Mann-Gymnasium is a co-ed, independent German-Hungarian international school in Budapest, Hungary. It is part of the network of German Auslandsschulen (German independent schools in foreign countries). The school was called "Deutsche Schule Budapest" until September 2004.
- 1 History
- 2 Directorate
- 3 Academics
- 4 Climate
- 5 Extracurriculars
- 6 Athletics
- 7 Traditions
- 8 School slang
- 9 After graduation
- 10 Alumni (list incomplete)
- 11 Notes
- 12 External links
The former Deutsche Schule Budapest was re-established as the continuation of, first, the 1908 Reichsdeutsche Schule Budapest, and later, the German Government School in Budapest. The founders were Baden-Württemberg, the Federal Government of Germany, the City of Budapest and the Hungarian government, in succession to a tradition of German abroad schools in Hungary dating back to the late 19th century. Since then, it has evolved into a state-of-the-art education facility for about 500 students, with forms from grade 1 to 4 (Grundschule) and 5 to 12 (Gymnasium). The school draws in equal proportions from the children of expat professionals, many of whom have little or no relation to Germany itself, and the Hungarian elite. It is generally considered to be one of the best schools of its kind in Hungary, with an objectively very high acceptance rate.
The school is part of the German federal education system and accredited to issue the German Abitur/Reifeprüfung. At the same time, leavers of the Hungarian branch get the Hungarian Matura (Érettségi) as well. The education between the 5th and the 10th grade is split into two branches. The S branch (forms with "s" designation, e.g. 6s - "S" stands for Seiteneinstieg, meaning "side entry" in German) is for Hungarian students, with strengthened German language education, while the A branch follows the regular curriculum of a German Gymnasium. In grade 10, the two branches are 'remixed' and their curricula differ only in minor points.
The Headmaster of the TMG is currently OStD'in Brigitte Cleary, governing the school as Interim Commissioner after the term of OStD Klaus Eberl, the previous director. The Hungarian Ministry of Education and the German minority representation in Hungary sought to have Helmut Seiler, a teacher at the state-run German minority school in Baja, Hungary nominated to the post of Headmaster, which was met by opposition by the school community, including teachers and students. After protests, including an open letter to the ambassador and the German Foreign Minister, as well as a student protest in front of the embassy, the situation was resolved by the nomination of OStD Klaus Eberl.
The school is co-governed by two Deputy Headmasters, the Hungarian Deputy Headmaster (currently Mendly Lajos, in office since 2003) and the German Deputy Headmaster (StR Peter Stübler, in office since 2009).
The TMG has a stringent academic curriculum, which is evidenced by a graduation rate of virtually 100%, and one of the highest admissions rates among Hungarian schools. While not coming top in the Neuwirth tables, the nationally accepted admissions rate table in Hungary, this is because admissions to foreign universities, which make up for as much as 45% of all TMG graduates, are not recorded in the Neuwirth tables. Considering graduates enrolled at foreign institutions as well, the admissions rate is around 95%, currently equalled only by Fazekas. The school's comparative strength is, primarily, in the field of languages. The average leaver will have a knowledge of German and English to the level to enable him to attend university taught in either of the languages. French and Spanish, which has been recently introduced, are also taught at a high level. The science curriculum features biology, physics and chemistry as compulsory subjects throughout on at least supplementary level. A testimony to the level of science education is the large proportion of students in medicine and the sciences. The arts curriculum is unusual in that it focuses in all subjects on a comparative perspective between different cultures. So for example, when a given historical event is studied, its impact will be presented on both Hungarian and German history, and sources drawn from both regions will be called upon to evaluate the event. Students have significant choice in what path to follow within the requirements of a compulsory number of classes in creative arts. Students may generally opt for a course in music theory, or for a course in visual arts, which consists of a common compulsory history of art module, and either a set of classes exploring creative techniques, or a more project-based course, where students have to submit a project proposal, then realise it and reflect upon their results. Teachers at the school are generally proposed and delegated by the Federal Ministry for Education (Germany), and are confirmed by the school. In a number of cases, especially where Hungarian teachers are concerned, the school hires teachers directly. In the majority of cases, several years' experience at one of the highly reputable Hungarian secondary schools is a minimum requirement.
The TMG, as an independent school, has some tension resulting from wealth differences. While the school fees are high, especially in comparison with Hungarian circumstances, the school offers extensive need-based bursaries and scholarships. Nevertheless, TMG remains to be commonly considered one of the most preppy educational establishments in Hungary, despite being less expensive than the American School in Nagykovácsi or the SEK.
The school prides itself on its diversity, its students representing more than thirty different nationalities. Albeit smaller than most other international schools in Budapest, it is proportionally more diverse and places more stress on a cosmopolitan education than on education to either of the countries' culture only. National tensions are generally considered to be a thing of the past, and especially the higher forms (10-12) serve as examples of inter-cultural understanding, something that is emphasised in the compulsory Social Sciences course. The school is religiously independent, and offers Roman Catholic and Reformed religious education, as well as a confession-neutral course in ethics.
The TMG is one of currently nine Hungarian schools participating in the Model European Parliament project. TMG gave in the last year two international delegates with a total of seven international session attendances and a President of National Session to the MEP. Students of the TMG/DSB have participated in several international and national projects. The Class of '05 won a first prize on the Federal Competition of Political Education in 2003, and the school had several contestants in the finals of the prestigious OKTV competition in the last few years. The school has close links to the prestigious Europa-Kolleg, a two-weeks research scholarship program for annually twenty high school student, organised by the state foundation of Lower Saxony, the Stiftung Niedersachsen. The school has a very active student drama society, generally performing at least one play every term, and a school choir. A number of academic clubs exist, especially in the sciences - the chemistry and mathematics clubs, as well as the geophysics working group, are attracting a number of students. The most significant of the numerous arts clubs is the history society. The school chess club is also very popular, looking back to a long history and many intra- and extramural competitions.
Following the concept of education to a well-rounded personality, the school emphasises the importance of athletics. The school football team is one of the best school teams in Budapest, frequently playing (and defeating) other international schools in the area. The basketball first team has also had notable successes recently, not the least thanks to the annual student-teacher match on the last school day before Christmas break, widely attended by almost the whole student population.
The girls' volleyball team is also one of the best school teams in the area, represented in almost every major high school level tournament. Minority sports, such as hockey, similarly enjoy popularity as part of the very diverse PE curriculum. Four square (Australian rules) and Fives are popular with the lower grades, though less so since the restructuring of the campus. The school's sailing club and yacht squad organises outings every weekend at Lake Velence, where the school's holiday house is located.
Named after one-time school coach and PE teacher Gábor Gombocz, the Gombocz-Runde is a 1,3 km cross country run on an area near the school with extreme inclines and uphill parts. As such, it is strenuous exercise even for generally fit pupils. Tradition has it that every pupil has to run it at least once a term to pass in PE, although this has lately been abandoned. The run itself nevertheless remains part of the PE curriculum. It is partly due to the tradition of the Gombocz-Runde that Thomas Mannians are regularly seen at various city marathons and charity runs. Gombocz doesn't run with the pupils, he sits on a chair the pupils have to carry. The run always takes place in the hot summer of Hungary.
The Adventsbasar is a flea market co-organised by the Parents' Conference that takes place in early December, but always after Szalagavató. It is a Christmas-themed event where most forms get a stall and sell pancakes, mulled wine, and various trinkets. The income usually goes to charity. The Adventsbasar is widely attended by alumni and has recently become a social event for more recent alumni to meet up.
Once finalists have passed their first semester of finals year and are admitted to leaving examinations, they are allowed to wear a distinctive bright-blue ribbon on their coats. The Szalagavató is the ceremony when the ribbons are officially handed over to the pupils. The Szalagavató takes place usually in late November to early December, and marks the final stage of a pupil's school career. It is usually a white tie event taking place in the school, commonly presided over by the German Ambassador to Budapest or another high-ranking state officer.
Ballagás (passing out ceremony)
Ballagás is the actual ceremony of leaving school, on the last day of ordinary school schedules for the finalists. It takes place on the last Friday before the start of the preparatory and examination period, at the end of which the oral parts of the leaving examinations are taken. Finalists march through classrooms decorated with flowers for this purpose, singing traditional commercium songs, such as Gaudeamus Igitur.
Gárdony (school holiday house)
The school owns a holiday house in Gárdony, on the shore of Lake Velence. The house can accommodate more than thirty people, and has a fully equipped kitchen, community rooms and harbor facilities. It is a favorite destination for weekend form excursions during term-time, and it also serves as the base for the school sailing club. The mandatory 10th form maritime ecology, environmental chemistry and environmental biology practicals are usually held at the lake, involving bird observation, practical water chemistry and examination of samples, and environmental assay.
Due to its international traditions, the school has several idiosyncratic expressions, from both German and Hungarian.
Deutgarisch - Portmanteau from "deutsch" (German language) and "ungarisch" (Hungarian language): the language allegedly spoken at the school, a mixture of German and Hungarian.
Abistreich - Some usually harmless prank perpetrated by students before the end of their final year.
Mensa - from lat. mensa = table: the school dining hall.
Kisbolt - lit. little shop: a tuck shop close enough to the school to be able to get there and back again in the 20-minutes period breaks, selling reasonably priced food and drink.
Aquarium - Group room 1, overlooking the entrance hall, with so many windows that it actually appears from the distance like a glass aquarium.
128 - The bus between the city centre and the school.
L128 (short for Linie 128) - The independent school newspaper. Published every two weeks in termtime, it features news, an art section and interviews with a different teacher in each edition.
Vadászház - Originally meaning huntsman's lodge, it was the first school house. Currently houses the preparatory school.
Aula - from lat. aula = hall: the school meeting hall, houses a large stage and is capable to accommodate all students and faculty. It is usually used for the headmaster's start-of-term and end-of-term address.
Vertretung - Substitute classes. A daily published plan for cancelled and substituted classes is displayed next to the main entrance to the central building, as generally the first thing one sees when entering the central building.
Amphitheater - A circular, open-air stage in the school park.
Wandertag - Weekdays selected by the school for open-air excursions. Explorations in the surrounding mountains are popular with lower grades, while higher grades usually attend careers events.
SV - The school student government.
Fakt - The specific name of the additional higher level Hungarian language and literature classes.
Vasas - A large sports field geared towards track and field in the city. During summer term, sports classes sometimes take place there. Vasas-classes are not quite favoured, as the tasks usually entail exhausting and pointless exercises.
DG - German history classes. Used to distinguish it from Hungarian history classes, for students who are taking both.
Projektwoche - The week (usually) at the start of Easter term, when instead of regular classes, students work on projects in cross-grade teams.
Schneefrei - Occurs when the school buildings cannot be reached because of heavy snow.
Blau and Grün (Blue and Green) - Two former school houses, demolished 2001 to make place for new buildings.
Classes are formally named after the subject, but usually referred to by students by name of the teacher.
Teachers, regardless of nationality and family status, are addressed by Herr/Frau and last name.
TMG students graduate with good results and almost all of them proceed to select universities and facilities of further education. The graduation rate is virtually 100%, the admissions rate above 95%. In the last years, the TMG sent students to universities in the UK, Germany, including Heidelberg, the United States and Austria.
Alumni (list incomplete)
Alumni of the schools are represented in business, sports and public life of both countries.
Sciences & Technology
- Gabor Bernath, young inventor of the ScanGuru three-dimensional scanner technology, winner of the 50th Intel ISEF.
Business & Economics
- Eva Szekely, gold medalist at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, attended the school when it was called the Reichsdeutsche Schule Budapest (Imperial German School of Budapest).
- Andy Kuharszky, tennis player for the University of Washington
- "Deutsche Schule atmet durch", Jan Mainka. In: Budapester Zeitung, 3 September 2007. 
- ScanGuru website
- University of St. Gallen website
- University of Washington Athletics
- Website of the TMG
- Which school? site of the TMG
- Tagesspiegel article about the school
- Satellite picture of campus
- private website about the school