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Thinking about the Classical School of Tampere, or Clasu as it is called by students and teachers, brings back some fond memories. The three years I spent there, from age 13 to 16, were in many ways formative for me, not least because I made some of my best friends at this school.

In Tampere, Clasu is considered one of the best upper level comprehensive schools. Perhaps the origins of this reputation lie in the fact that it is the only school at this level in Tampere where Latin is taught, and therefore perhaps attracts more intellectually oriented students. More importantly, the good reputation attracts good students. In Finland, you are able to choose your school at this level only if you have a special reason. Thus, a lot of students who are attracted by Clasu's reputation apply to the school on the pretext that they are enthusiastic about learning Latin, even though they might not be particularly interested in the language. I was definitely one of those students.

There is a nice sense of history in Clasu. There are the teachers who went to the school themselves, and share anecdotes about their school days. There are the Latin texts, which have decorated the walls for decades, such as "Huc nihil mali intret!" ("May nothing evil enter here") and "Praesens imperfectum perfectum futurum" ("The present is imperfect, the future is perfect"). The most amusing example of the school's history is the text on the walls of the sports hall saying space should be left for the upcoming fresco paintings. In a book on the history of the school, there is a picture of the same walls, with the same text. The picture was taken in the 1930s (as far as I can remember; this may well be wrong, but it was in the early 20th century anyway).

The Classical School was founded in 1901, and was then called the Classical Lyceum. In the early years, it was possible to study classical Greek in addition to Latin. There is still an emphasis on languages, with the possibility to take English, Swedish, German, Russian and Italian. In 1998, the tradition of teaching ancient Greek was revived, with a Greek club meeting weekly. Clasu is also one of the few schools in Finland which teach Russian at this level. This was made possible by the enthusiasm of the principal, who is a teacher of Russian herself.

Sources: my own experience and http://www.info.tampere.fi/y/klassillinen/

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