Talk:Villa St. Jean International School

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This article misrepresents the history of the Villa St. Jean. It is not true that "the Villa St. Jean evolved over the decades into an international school," or that "In the decades after the War, Villa St. Jean was transformed, and by a decade and a half after the War's end the school had become a metropolitan, international institution, teaching principally an American high school curriculum..."

In fact (see http://www.villastjean.org/Photos/François%20Ullmann/St._Exupéry.htm) the Villa St. Jean consisted of overhelmingly French students and taught a strictly French curriculum through at least the 1960-61 school year and probably through 1961-62. My own recollection puts the student body at around 150-200 French, about 12-24 Swiss, 2-3 Americans, 2-3 Canadians, and a half-dozen from other countries (mostly French territories or former French territories) while I was at the Villa during the 1957-58 through 1960-61 school years. Francois Ullman generally confirms these numbers through at least 1955-56, and for 1959-60 he counts 176 French, 42 Swiss, and 40 "other." Perusing "Villa Talk" within http://www.villastjean.org reveals that almost all of the French students left the school by the end of the 1961-62 school year.1Superscript text The "French" Villa in fact closed and its administration, faculty and students departed. A group of American Marianists re-opened the Villa St. Jean International School at the same location for the 1963-64 school year. There was no decades-long transition. As I understand it, this was basically an American High School. This second school also closed after just a few years of operation.

I just came across a few of my textbooks from near the end of the Villa's "transition to an American International School." They are all from the 1959-60 and 1960-61 school years.

Grammaire Latine Complete. J. De Gigord, Editeur. Paris.

La Grammaire Nouvelle et le Francais. Classes de 4e et de 3e des Lycees et des Colleges et des cours complementaires. Ferdand Nathan, Editeur. Paris.

Moyen Age: Les Grands Auteurs Francais du Programe.

Collection Deutschland IV: Land und Leute (Classe de Troisieme). Masson et Cie, Editeurs. Paris.

Cours D'Histoire Jules Isaac: Le Moyen Age, Classe de Quatrieme, Programmes de 1957. Classiques Hachette, Paris.

Les Lettres Latines, Cesar et Salluste. Edition de l'Ecole. Paris.

Nouveau Traite d'Analyse Grammaticale et Logique A L'Usage De L'Enseignement du Second Degre. Les Editions de l'Ecole. Paris.

Sciences Naturelles: Hygiene. 3e. Classiques Hachette. Paris.

Langenscheidts Schulworterbuch Franzosisch: Franzosisch-Deutsch/Deutsch-Franzosisch. Berlin.

Dictionnaire Latin-Francais. Librairie A. Hatier. 8, Rue D'Assas.

Dictionnaire Francais-Latin. Librairie A. Hatier. 8, Rue D'Assas.


I'm beginning to wonder where some of this (mis)information came from. The following has occurred to me:

Suppose that the school under the French Marianists failed, for whatever reasons, and that a group of American Marianists decided to take advantage of a group of buildings which can be transferred between Marianists to start a new school. Does one (if one is perhaps not too honest) advertise that there is a new school starting from scratch with all of the uncertainties that involves, or advertise to prospective students and their families that here is an opportunity to enroll in an established school with a long history (St Exupery even attended!), that has gradually evolved into a school offerring an American curriculum?

Perhaps the American Marianists created a history for their own reasons.


1Superscript textnote, for example:

Re: French Villa From: Antoine Zabal Date: 12/25/2002 Time: 4:35:40 PM Comments I was at the Villa till 1962. That year we were told that the Villa was changing from French program to American High school. Most of us went to Geneva at Institut Florimont, Petit Lancy.

From: MARIO TETTAMANTI Date: 8/4/2003 Time: 4:30:29 AM Comments Was in Villa St.Jean from 1959 to 1962 when we all got kicked out. Went to Les Roches school and lost contacts since then. Who was with me in sixieme and cinquieme get in touch After 44 years it is about time to renew contacts. Ciao to all Mario —Preceding unsigned comment added by Brian scva (talkcontribs) 12:06, 7 July 2008 (UTC)





Brian scva 11:38, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Addendum[edit]

I just came across the following, from Michel Terrapon, who taught French, Latin, Greek and Art at the Villa St-Jean, and was later the assistant director of the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Fribourg.

(D’un lettre de Michel Terrapon, St-Maurice, le 25-4-62 :)

…Enfin, passons et venons-en aux grandes nouvelles : « La Villa St-Jean » fermes ses portes. L’équipe que tu as connue là-bas s’en va. Seul Monsieur Moran reste. Cela t’étonne. C’est que les Marianistes vont faire de la Villa une « high school » américaine, et catholique bien sur. Nous avons donc, toi, moi et les autres survécus à cette maison. Sais-tu ce que les élèves donnent comme raisons à cette déroute ? En parodiant le signe de la croix catholique, ils disent : Ils ont fermé « au nom du pèze, du fric et du saint Bénéfice » ! C’est par Valarche eue je l’ai su, indirectement. Valait-il la peine de se payer des faux témoignages l’an dernier pour en arriver là.

Quand a moi, je me réjouis et le regrette tout a la fois. Je me réjouis de voir ces salauds payer pour toutes leurs fautes et leurs actes imbéciles. Je regrette de voir la France perdre un point d’attache. Du reste, cette année encore, Monsieur Pierre-Henri Simon, professeur a l’Université, retourne en France et Monsieur Henri Guillemin, attaché culturel de France, quitte aussi son poste. Ce sont deux grands hommes que j’estimais, qui nous avaient aides contre le crapaud, et ils s’en vont. Décidément, il faut s’habituer à vivre sa vie toute chargée de regrets.


This translates as:

...ok, let's go on and arrive at the big news:

"The Villa St-Jean" closes its doors. The team you knew there leaves. Only Mr. Moran stays. This will astonish you. It's that the Marianistes will make the Villa into an American high school, and of course Catholic. You and I, and the others, have thus outlived this institution. Do you know what the students give as a reason for this train wreck? In parodying the Catholic Sign of the Cross, they say they closed " In the name of (colloquialisms for money and greed that evoke Pere, Fils and Saint des Esprits)." It's from Valarche that I know this, indirectly. Was it worth (their) paying for perjury last year to arrive at this point?

As to me, I am happy and regretful all at the same time. I am happy to see these bastards pay for all their faults and their imbecilic acts. I regret France losing a point of contact. Also, this same year, Mr. Peirre-Henri Simon, professor at the University, returns to France and Mr. Henri Guillemin, French cultural attache, leaves his post. This are two great men that I admire and who helped us against the toad (universal nickname for the last French Villa director). Clearly, one must live life charged with regrets.


Here is some more of the background and details from another letter:

Fribourg, ce 5 septembre 1961

Mon Cher Brian,

Mille mercis pour ta lettre et tes confidences. Merci aussi de m’avoir fait don de ton amitié ; c’est un geste qui t’honore et contente mon cœur. Peut-être as-tu été déçu de ne pas recevoir ma lettre plus tôt. Ces vacances on laissé la tienne en souffrance, si bien que je n’en ai eu connaissance qu’il y a peu temps.

Tes confidences sur les ennuis de la Villa St-Jean ne m’ont pas étonné, tant elles sont conformes à l’atmosphère que nous y avons connue aussi, mes collègues et moi. J’espère cependant qu’elles ne suffiront pas à ternir d’autres souvenirs plus agréables. Je te dirai simplement que de tel procèdes ne peuvent que t’honorer, puisque tu as su y faire face, en homme, a la façon de ton St-Exupery.

Quant à moi, je ne retournerai plus à la Villa. Tout est terminé, si bien que j’ai rompu tout contact, fors le mépris. Je suis appelé au collège de St-Maurice, en Valais, ou un bâtiment tout neuf abritera 800 élèves. On m’y confie des cours très intéressants, soit le grec dans diverses classes et le latin et le français en classes préparatoires au baccalauréat. C’est plus que je n’en pourrais souhaiter à mon âge. De plus, j’y continuerai à donner des cours de céramique et d’émaillage. Une page, douloureuse, de ma vie est tournée. Pourquoi douloureuse ?

Des le début de l’année passée, avec la venue du « Crapaud magnifique », j’ai vu mon horaire amputé de 4 heures qui avaient été confiées a Monsieur Brégler. Cela signifiait pour moi une perte d’environ 2.000 fr. suisses, perte d’autant plus sensible que j’ai une famille de deux enfants. Je me suis acharné à réclamer mon droit, parce que nous avions, tous les professeurs laïques, un contrat qui interdisait pareille pratique. Comme je ne voyais rien venir, j’ai du me résigner à donner une telle quantité de leçons particulières que certains jours je devais travailler jusqu’a treize heures, parfois plus, pour arriver a tout terminer—classe, corrections et préparations--. Quelle vie infernale ! A Noel, j’ai retrouve les 4 heures précitées, mais perdu deux nouvelles heures, malgré toutes mes protestations. Mes collègues se sont vus aussi victimes de procédés aussi mauvais. Monsieur Ficatier a quitte Fribourg pour Vevey, au bord du Lac Léman. Mlle Devid, tu sais, a choisi l’Amérique, d’autres enfin sont partis a leur tour, sauf Monsieur Aeby, provisoirement. Quant à moi, j’ai intenté un procès à la Villa St-Jean, procès terminé le 29 juin déjà, dernier jour de l’année scolaire, pour essayer de retrouver 1.500 fr. que j’avais finalement perdu, selon notre contrat. Et bien, ce procès, je l’ai perdu. Tu dois trouver pareille issue bien absurde ! C’est que d’une part, a Fribourg, tout est passé sous la domination de la soutane, tout, la politique, le commerce et même la Justice. On n’y a jamais encore vu un curé perdre un procès. Que j’ai été téméraire d’attaquer des curés à Fribourg, idéaliste que j’étais ! Mais il y a mieux. Le « Crapaud » et sa clique ont aidé la Justice à s’aveugler. Un marianiste de Paris, que je n’avais jamais vu, est venu affirmer devant les Juges qu’il serait venu chez moi en janvier avec Andlauer-crapaud et qu’alors j’aurais refusé du travail.

Ma colère ne m’a plus contenu. Le lendemain matin, j’avais encore ma classe de 3e, dont tu étais absent ; j’ai alors mis tous tes camarades au courant de la situation et leur ait dit ce que je viens de t’écrire. Mieux ! J’ai accusé le crapaud a haute et rageuse voix dans les couloirs. Puis je me suis allé abrutir le crapaud dans son bureau tout neuf, bureau rénové avec l’argent volé au prix d’un faux témoignage !!!

Voila ce que tous mes élèves n’auraient jamais imagine. Voila ce qui t’expliquera pourquoi ils agissaient envers toi comme tu me l‘as dit. Mon cher Brian, retiens de ce récit que toujours, comme St-Ex, il vaut mieux faire confiance a l’homme, sans retenir quoi que ce soit de son habit, de sa profession, sa race ou de sa fallacieuse apparence.

Je te prie d’oublier ce que je t’ai confié, car seul le beau—beauté morale ou artistique—mérite l’hospitalité de ta mémoire d’homme fier.

A mon tour, je te confie mon amitié et espère de tout cœur recevoir régulièrement tes messages auxquels je serai—c’est promis—fidèle.*

  • Je quitte Fribourg le 29 sept., mais ne puis encore t’annoncer ma nouvelle adresse, car je vais habiter un quartier tout neuf à peine termine. Ecris-moi la prochaine fois encore à Fribourg. Les PTT feront suivre mon courrier à St-Maurice.

Bien à toi, M. Terrapon

The relevant parts of this letter translate as:

… What you told me about your difficulties at the Villa St Jean did not surprise me, as they were consistent with the atmosphere that my colleagues and I experienced. I hope though that they weren’t enough to tarnish other more pleasant memories…

As to me, I will not return to the Villa. Everything is finished, so much so that I have cut all contact, other than contempt. I have been employed by the college of St-Maurice, in Valais, where a new building will house 800 students. I have been trusted with very interesting classes, Greek in various grades, and Latin and French in the preparatory grades for the Baccalaureate. It’s more than I could have hoped for at my age. In addition I will continue to teach ceramics and glazing. A painful page of my life has turned. Why painful?

Since the beginning of the past year, with the arrival of the “Magnificent Toad” [the name given by students and staff to the last French Villa director] I saw my schedule cut by 4 hours which were then given to Mr. Bregler. This meant, for me, a loss of 2,000 francs, especially hard because I had a family with two children. I threw myself into reclaiming my rights, because we all had, the lay professors, a contract that forbade this practice. As I saw nothing happening, I had to resign myself to giving so many private lessons that some days I was working thirteen hours, or even more, to finish everything—classes, grading and preparation. What an infernal life! At Christmas I got the four hours back, but lost two more despite my protests. My colleagues were also victims of conduct that was just as bad. Mr. Ficatier left Fribourg for Vevey, on Lake Leman. Ms. Devid, as you know, chose the United States, others finally left in turn, except, so far, Mr. Aeby. As to me, I sued the Villa St-Jean, a suit which was resolved on June 29th, the last day of the academic year, trying to recover the 1,500 francs that I had finally lost according to my contract. Well, I lost. You must find this quite absurd. On the one hand, in Fribourg everything is under the control of the cassock: everything, politics, commerce, and even justice. A priest has never lost a suit. What a brave idealist I was to attack the priests of Fribourg. But there is even better. The “Toad” and his gang helped justice to be blind. A marianist from Paris, whom I had never seen, came to swear before the judges that he had come to me with Anlauer-toad and that I had refused some work.

I couldn’t contain my anger. The next morning, I still had my class of troisieme, from which you were absent: I then brought all of your classmates up to date on the situation, telling them what I just wrote you. Better! I accused the toad at loud and angry voice up and down the halls. Then I confronted the toad in his brand new office, office renovated with the funds stolen with perjured testimony. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Brian scva (talkcontribs) 17:53, 14 October 2008 (UTC)



—Preceding unsigned comment added by Brian scva (talkcontribs) 09:30, 5 July 2008 (UTC)