“Bright gymnasium from century to century!” is the slogan put together and highlighted on the birthday poster by students with special abilities for computing and informatics of the Prijepolje Gymnasium, proudly pointing out that this treasure of knowledge in western Serbia exists and has been caring for the education of youth for 110 years. At the ceremonial academy held yesterday in the Great Hall of the House of Culture, current and retired school employees, students, parents, directors of neighboring educational institutions, religious communities and local officials remembered November 20, 1913, when by decree of King Peter First Karađorđević, at the suggestion of the then minister of education and church affairs, a lower real gymnasium was founded in Prijepolje. On March 3, 1914, the school began organizing classes in the then building of the former Turkish army, which was built by the Ottomans with kulaks in 1839, the current building of the Museum in Prijepolje. Professors, educated throughout Europe, and high school students with new ideas, understandings, and enthusiasm came to the backward town. A huge intellectual force developed from this enlightened core, and the high school became the first high school in Prijepolje where students of the Orthodox and Islamic faiths were educated together.
Not for long, because with the outbreak of the First World War, in July 1915, the school administration was forced to put a padlock on the institution, until April 1919, when the students returned to the classrooms. But in July 1932, the school was abolished and closed, for unknown reasons, until August 8, when it was re-established, by decree of King Alexander. With the outbreak of World War II in 1941, the gymnasium stopped working again until December 20, 1945, when classes were resumed in what was then called the Mixed Real Gymnasium. During the bombardment and “savage fascist rage”, as stated by the former director Ljubomir Šuljagić, “the gymnasium building was set on fire and burned with all the school furniture”. In April 1948, the gymnasium moved to the new school building, between the bridge over the Lim in Šarampovo and the Catholic church, and by the decision of the People’s Committee of Sreza Mileševski, with the consent of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Serbia, from a lower level to a higher gymnasium. School year 1953/1954. In 2008, the first generation of high school graduates graduated from it with 23 students, while today this institution, which Prijepolje is proud of, has 16 classes with 350 students. Because as director Nataša Lučić testified for “Politika”, the Prijepolska high school “created the intelligence” of that Zlatibor region. Most of the students, he says, enroll in colleges and continue their education, after which they return to their hometown as teachers, professors, economists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, and there are quite a few who stayed to work in big cities as university professors, scientists , doctors or even top journalists.
– During these 110 years, our school went through various trials: it was abolished, rebuilt, without basic resources and working conditions, reformed, relocated… However, it survives and lasts, sharing the fate of the people of this region “and teaching them how to they let light into the house and how to get the darkness out of the room, how the state is run, how brothers love each other and laws are respected”. Although in the period from 1977 to 1990 the gymnasium was transformed into an educational center, this did not seriously damage its continuity and image. For all the people of Prijepolje, it remained a high school, and its classrooms were still filled with the best students of our region. It is they who, all these decades and even today, have made Prijepoljska Gymnasium so successful and famous and that it will celebrate its 110th birthday with a series of great successes, manifestations and actions – the director emphasized and added that they are the greatest treasure of that institution. students and the successes they achieved both in school and in their studies, becoming good and humane people as well as experts in the fields in which they trained.
Excerpts from the monograph Prijepoljska gimnazija, created on the occasion of the school’s centenary, and written by the former longtime directors and professors of the Serbo-Croatian language, Ljubomir Šuljagić and Hadžo Mušović, were also read at the Formal Academy. And Šuljagić underlines that “it is not immodest to say that the date of establishment of this school is one of the most significant dates in the 750-year long history of Prijepolje and beyond”.
– Immediately after its establishment, the first educated people arrive in Prijepolje, university educated, the first high school students enroll, which fundamentally changes the understanding of school, education and education, but also life habits, especially when it comes to female children. The gymnasium, especially in the first years of its existence, when it was most needed, became the main cohesive link between the Orthodox and Muslims, who, due to the five centuries of Turkish rule, were very distant, separated from each other, mistrustful and suspicious. The very fact that they are now sitting together in the pews, that teachers of both faiths work in the school, significantly changes those relationships and restores broken ties. That germ, which was conceived with the creation of this school, will grow in the coming decades into a huge tree in the shadow of which the whole region will develop and grow, in all fields – stresses Šuljagić.
The century-old school was moved to a new building in Šehovića polje in 1997, and since July 2, 2002, it has had its current name – Prijepoljska gimnazija. Since 1959, the school has been named after Branko Radičević, professor of history and geography, who died as a fighter on Sutjeska in 1943.