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125 years of FGZ

Founded in 1888 by three fathers and with just six students, the FGZ has grown to be an important institution in Zurich. With its preparatory classes, the Progymnasium and the lower and upper schools of the Gymnasium, the FGZ stands out due to its wide range of educational programmes and variety of options to switch from one educational level to another. In just 13 years, the FGZ has become a leading school in the bilingual sector, educating approximately a third of all 470 students bilingually. The students, teachers, parents and alumni proudly look back on the achievements of 2013. Throughout the year, events took place that reflected the diversity of our school (see chapter «125 Jahre-Jubiliäum» / «125 years of FGZ»).


Moritz Bleibtreu visits FGZ

«I don't need to act to live.» The speaker is a star of both German and international cinema who has remained true to himself. The young people assembled in the auditorium believe him immediately. «Just a normal guy with a wife and a child» is what he is, says Moritz Bleibtreu. At home he is just Moritz.

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Maximilian Schell at «his» school

Maximilian Schell, the world famous Oscar-winning actor, director, producer and translator visited his old school, Freies Gymnasium Zürich yesterday. The Swiss celebrity’s first visit in 63 years turned out to be a nostalgic reunion.

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His Royal Highness Prince Hakoon at FGZ

On 16 March 2011 the students of «The bilingual way at FGZ» received a royal visit. Together with his friends, John Hope Bryant, Advisor to Barack Obama and two former presidents, and Pekka Himanen, Professor of Philosophy and Head of the Institute for Information and Technology in Helsinki, His Royal Highness Prince Hakoon from Norway visited the school as part of the «Global Dignity» project.

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New corporate design

Freies Gymnasium Zürich receives a new look. The logo has been redesigned meaning that the school takes on a new, fresh and contemporary look. In a series of steps all the school’s communication media will be adapted to the new corporate design.


BMZ goes FGZ

The Bilingual Middleschool Zurich is integrated into Freies Gymnasium Zürich. The partner school, Lakeside School Küsnacht, sells its 50% share to Freies Gymnasium Zürich. The limited company is dissolved and the bilingual education programmes are integrated into Freies Gymnasium Zürich’s range of education programmes. The close collaboration with Lakeside School is now regulated with a cooperation contract.


Bilingual all the Way

With the opening of our bilingual lower school of the Gymnasium, it is now possible for students to go bilingual all the way - from primary school right through to Swiss Matura.


Profiling and development

The innovations agreed at the school development seminar at the Wolfsberg conference centre are implemented: accentuation of the Matura phase, introduction of a community service activity during the 5th year, and increased support and supervision over lunchtime to expand our school day structure.


Election of Thomas Bernet as new principal

Following an intensive selection process, Dr. Thomas Bernet, Head of School of Academia Engiadina, is elected as Principal of Freies Gymnasium Zürich.


Vice Principal, Hans Berger, becomes interim principal

The incumbent principal, Beat Sommer, answers the call to head up the Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz. Dr. Hans Berger becomes interim principal.


Bilingual education programmes

Freies Gymnasium Zürich becomes a pioneer in the canton: launch of the Bilingual Middleschool Zurich with immersion teaching in English / German. Freies Gymnasium Zürich initiates this new education programme in collaboration with its partner school, Lakeside School Küsnacht ensuring a seamless transition from the bilingual primary school level.
Freies Gymnasium Zürich is the first Gymnasium in the canton to start a bilingual education programme in the upper school of the Gymnasium («Economics and Law» study profile).


Freies Gymnasium has a website

Freies Gymnasium Zürich launches its website.


Theaterwerkstatt FGZ (drama society) is founded

Start of the Gymnasium education in accordance with the new Swiss Matura regulations in the upper school of the Gymnasium. Core subjects and supplementary subjects (study profile) replace the former Matura categories.
Since 1999, the Theaterwerkstatt has staged a major drama production featuring our students every year. The Theaterwerkstatt Freies Gymnasium Zürich benefits from professional leadership in the main artistic areas and has become an important institution in our school.


Election of Beat Sommer as new principal

The incumbent principal, Rev. Markus Zbären, retires. Beat Sommer, Coordinator of Boarding at the Lyceum Alpinum in Zuoz, is elected as new principal.

For the first time in the Canton of Zurich, English is introduced on the timetable for the 1st secondary class and, from the second term, for the 1st Gymnasium classes.


Probationary period is abolished

In conjunction with the rescheduled start of the school year from spring to late summer, it is decided to abolish the probationary period to allow students the time to settle in at the school.


: Matura Type E receives state-recognised status at Freies Gymnasium Zürich

The first class of the Economics Gymnasium takes the Matura examinations. The Matura Type E programme at Freies Gymnasium Zürich receives state recognition.


Opening of the computer room

A computer room makes it possible to introduce IT teaching at the school


Start of homework support and school lunches

Opening of the Economics Gymnasium with 21 students.

In order to reply to requests for more supervision and to adapt to social changes, this year sees the start of homework support and school lunches. The demand for these services experiences a steady increase over the following years and they have become an important part of our school structure today. The voluntary lunchtime support offered by mothers and fathers strengthens the bond between parents and Freies Gymnasium Zürich.

EDP lessons are integrated into the timetables.


Centenary celebrations

The school’s centenary celebrations open on 7 May with an official ceremony in the Neumunster Church followed by lunch on the school premises. Two hundred invited guests, including many from the world of politics and business, as well as all those belonging to the school enjoy the speech given by the Rector of Zurich University, Professor H. H. Schmid, as well as numerous good-humoured toasts and after-dinner speeches. In June, on the day dedicated to the students, the entire school travels to Obersee by special train, enjoys sports and games on the banks of the lake in Bollingen and then strolls to Rapperswil where the school community boards a steamship to take everybody back to Zurich. A lively school party with 2,000 visitors, all members of the Freies Gymnasium Zürich extended family, brings the celebrations to a grand conclusion on 28 October.


Authorization of the Economics Gymnasium (Type E)

In 1988 the Education Council of the Canton of Zurich grants permission for Freies Gymnasium Zürich to run the Matura Type E programme from the 1989/90 school year.


Rev. Markus Zbären named new principal

Rev. Scheitlin resigns and Rev. Markus Zbären is named as new principal. Like his predecessors, he possesses the remarkable gift of exuding great human warmth while, at the same time, being very down to earth and purposeful - all qualities essential for successful school leadership.



The Matura graduates establish the «Trübelitag» tradition by distributing fresh grapes (Swiss German: Trübeli) to the entire school community on the day that they complete their Matura exams. At this time the Matura exams took place in autumn. After the rescheduling of the beginning of the school year in 1989, the dates of the Matura are also changed. Nevertheless the «Trübelitag» tradition has continued in another form (although without fresh grapes).


Freies Gymnasium Zürich moves to Seefeld

The steady increase in the number of pupils during the 1950s leads to the building of the new school premises in Seefeld alongside such good neighbours as the Neumünster Community Centre and the Riesbach Gymnasium.


Computer studies lessons

IBM Switzerland donates one of the first magnetic card computers to Freies Gymnasium Zürich inviting the school to try out the system. The Computer Studies lessons are taught by Heinz Bachmann and Erich Bernhard. For years, the course takes place during a special project week and is only integrated into the timetable in 1989.


Audio-visual foreign language teaching

In the magazine «Die Frau» (1967) you could read the following article: «If you enter a classroom containing a language laboratory in Freies Gymnasium Zürich, you may think you have walked into a telephone box by mistake: you can see boys and girls wearing headphones sitting in small booths.» The installation, which was donated to the school, allows the teacher (E. Jaccard) sitting at the control panel to talk to each individual student while the others are practising sentences with the aid of pictures and text.


Visit of Field Marshal Montgomery

In January 1961, Freies Gymnasium Zürich is honoured by a visit from Field Marshal Montgomery who in true «Monty» fashion decrees that the whole school should have two half-day holidays - this very much to the surprise of school management and to the delight of the students (and teachers).


Rev. Kurt Scheitlin appointed principal

Rev. Kurt Scheitlin is elected as principal. Fifty years earlier, Professor von Schulthess had expressed the hope that common ground, yet to be discovered, could be found in the relationship between science and religion and their differing view of the world. Now in stark contrast to this statement, Scheitlin writes: «It is not the job of the Protestant Grammar School to protect its students from the tension between knowledge and religion, between reason and revelation, rather the contrary is true: the school should take on the challenge of making its students aware of this tension.»


First major school party

Freies Gymnasium Zürich now enjoys a certain size and the decision is made to hold the first school party that is not intended to mark another important event. It goes without saying that the principal, Arthur Fischer, at first expresses his grave concern, «whether such frivolities are compatible with the Gospel and humanism of an almost seventy-year-old school» but he subsequently decides to «drop all his main objections just this once». The Honky Tonk, College Jazz Hall, Modern Club and the Cave St.-Germain welcome revellers to a taste of the Jazz Age.


64-year-old Arthur Fischer is appointed principal

Rev. von Orellis resigns. The incumbent Vice Principal, the 64-year-old Arthur Fischer, is named as principal. Under his leadership, Freies Gymnasium Zürich takes decisive steps towards expanding still further. From now on there will be two first classes in the Gymnasium each year. He also suggests that the Board should consider building a new school.


Foundation of the Student Organisation

The foundation of the Student Organisation may have been prompted by the numerous practical activities initiated during the war years, such as the land army or organised groups of students registering sightings of military aircraft or the communal working of a potato field in Rüschlikon. Whatever the reasons for its foundation, the Student Organisation only adheres to its original carefree objective of organising «all sorts of things» for three years; however it later enjoys a revival.


50th anniversary

On the event of the 50th anniversary of the school, Rev. von Orelli writes a review of the history, development and distinctive character of the school. In a period of internal and external change and turmoil, this review serves as an evaluation and analysis of our school as it stands.


The Alumni Association is founded

An important part of the tradition of Freies Gymnasium Zürich is the remarkable loyalty of many former students to our school. In 1930, this prompts the founding of the Alumni Association which actively supports and follows school developments and events.


Rev. Hans von Orelli is appointed principal

Rev. Beck resigns as principal to be succeeded by Rev. Hans von Orelli. Student numbers rise to 250. «Orelli is the kind of leader who does not want to do everything himself and who gives other capable teachers space to take on responsibilities. This leads to a new age of collaboration and consolidation of the teaching team which has stood our school’s rich sense of tradition in good stead over decades and, in fact, right up to the present day.»


The school moves to St. Annagasse

After 22 years, the school moves into its new building in St. Annagasse and is granted the right to have a «House Matura»; this is followed by state-recognition in 1912.


Introduction of 40-minute lessons

The introduction of 40-minute lessons allows the school to give its students three school-free afternoons a week. This very popular arrangement only changes when the 5-day week is introduced.


The «family school» becomes a fully-fledged Gymnasium

In 1904, the «family school» can already claim to be a fully-fledged Gymnasium, which, in contrast to the boys-only cantonal Gymnasiums, also admits girls.


Rev. Bernhard Beck becomes first principal

The private Gymnasium finds itself in a difficult financial situation meaning that the closing of the school can only be averted by the members of the Board guaranteeing the deficit. What the school needs is a strong personality who sees this appointment as «his purpose in life»; a principal to replace the current part-time acting principal Mr Ruegg. Rev. Bernhard Beck is appointed as the first full-time principal and not only is his request for a new desk granted; the school also receives generous donations from benefactors. This change in fortunes is interpreted as a blatant sign of «God’s will».


Change of school’s name to Freies Gymnasium

A preparatory class is introduced to follow the fifth primary school class. The School Association is founded with teachers, parents and friends of the school as members. The name of the school is changed to «Freies Gymnasium».


Christian Höhr, founder of the school, dies

The founder of Freies Gymnasium dies at the early age of 51. Friends and former colleagues publish a book in his memory.


The school moves to premises in Sihlwart

The family business gradually grows into a school. In order to satisfy the constant requirement for more space, the school moves to the premises in Sihlwart at 26 Gerechtigkeitsgasse in Selnau.


Lessons moved to the former Glockenhaus

Some other fathers request that their children may also participate in lessons and permission is granted by the cantonal government. The name of the school: Privatgymnasium. Teaching aim: transfer to the upper school of the cantonal Gymnasium. Lessons are moved to the former Glockenhaus. More teachers are employed.


First lessons

Five fathers, Mr Höhr-Hirzel (bookseller), Rev. Walder-Appenzeller (clergyman), Mr Frick-Morf, Mr Adolf Guyer-Zeller and Mr Bachofner (Principal of the Seminar Unterstrasse College) would like their sons to receive an education based on positive Christian principles. Christian Wagner, graduate of the Seminar Unterstrass College, is appointed the first teacher. Lessons begin in the living room of Christian Höhr’s home. Nobody dreams of founding a school.