Lycée Janson de Sailly
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Lycée Janson de Sailly is a lycée located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, France. It is considered as one of the most prestigious lycées in Paris. The lycéens of Janson are called les jansoniens and they usually refer to their high school as Janson, or JdS. It is the biggest academic institution in the region: 3,200 boys and girls from 11 to 20 attend classes ranging from junior high school to Classes Préparatoires.
Monsieur Janson de Sailly was a very rich Parisian lawyer, who found out that his wife had a lover. Therefore, he decided to disinherit her and to bequeath all of his fortune to the State, under the condition that it would be used to establish a modern high school that would offer an excellent education and in which no women would ever be allowed.
The lycée was built in the 1880s. Victor Hugo who lived nearby made a speech for the inauguration. A decade later it was opened to girls as well. The lycée Janson de Sailly was the first Republican lycée of France (the others were royal or imperial establishments); it aimed at training the future French scientific, literary, military, industrial, diplomatic and political male élites of the young Third Republic.
Because of its excellence, it soon gained a reputation in the whole country and attracted the most brilliant pupils of France. It also turned out to become one of the lycées of Parisian high society. The motto of the lycée was Pour la Patrie, par le livre et par l'épée (For the Homeland, by the book and by the sword). Indeed, a lot of Jansonians joined the army or the navy, and became famous by taking part in the conquest of the French Colonial Empire, especially in Africa.
In 1944, a few hundred Jansonians managed to leave the lycée and joined the French Free Forces (the 1st Army of Jean de Lattre de Tassigny): they founded a new élite unit, le 2ème Bataillon de Choc, also known as Bataillon Janson-de-Sailly. They faced the German divisions in Alsace (especially in the battles of Masevaux and Colmar) during the great counter-attack of Ardennes, and entered Germany with General Patton's forces in 1945.
Commemorative plaques are to be seen near the entrances of several classrooms and halls in the school buildings honoring the memories of its heroes - including the famous war hero Roland Garros.
Nowadays, the 3,200 students are equally divided into the three traditional formations of the French Education System : collège (30 classes with collégiens from 11 to 14), lycée (30 classes with lycéens from 14 to 18) and Classes Préparatoires aux Grandes écoles or prépas (30 classes with students from 18 to 20).
Janson de Sailly is also known for the reputation of its "fast 11th and 12th classes", which have been elected best classes in France for several years. In these classes, most are brilliant and have excellent results to the French Baccalauréat. Its fame is based on the difficulty to get into it. The Classes Preparatoires aux Grandes Écoles are also reputed : many students pursue studies at ESSEC, HEC Paris, École Polytechnique, École Centrale Paris, Mines de Paris, Sciences Po and École Normale Superieure upon completing studies.
In France, students must choose two foreign or regional languages that they will learn. At first, in Janson in lycée, they can have English or German. The second choice is larger: English, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese or Russian. In classes préparatoires, there is even more choice with German, English, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Russian as first language and all the aforementioned languages plus Japanese and Chinese as a second language. A student in Classes préparatoires can also take another second language not amongst those above. But those languages are available only through a partnership (the "Langues Inter-établissement") with other lycées with a wilder range of languages. The student would then study at Janson but go to another lycée to attend its foreign language class. For instance, the lycée Montaigne provides Portuguese and Polish and the lycée Buffon offers Hebrew and Swedish.
The Lycée offers an Abibac section, with German history classes taught by a native speaker. The students taking part in the section will take the Abitur and the Baccalauréat exams at the end of 12th grade.
Due to its geographical location, and to the important number of its alumni, Janson de Sailly is considered one of the best high schools in the city. According to sociologists Michel Pinçon and Monique Pinçon-Charlot, the school is predominantly attended by children from the upper class or from the aristocracy because of its location (the prestigious XVI arrondissement in Paris).
- Official website (in French)
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