Papiu highschool wants you

I graduated from “Colegiul National Alexandru Papiu Ilarian” in 1999. It became Colegiul National (National College) the month I graduated. Before it was just known as “Liceul (High school) Alexandru Papiu Ilarian,” or simpler, Papiu. It’s still a high school despite its fancy name. Most of my family went there and my cousin is the most recent graduate as of a couple weeks back.

Papiu has been around for almost 90 years and has constantly been regarded as one of the top high schools in Mures county. Many people still call it the best but I haven’t done enough reporting to make that claim myself. I graduated with an emphasis in math and physics although I ended up in the class because I botched my entrance exam (I remember being sick and blowing my nose on the floor because I was a neanderthal-type 14-year-old who did not carry napkins around). The several areas of emphasis offered (computers, foreign languages, social sciences etc.) are mostly code words used to rank a dozen classes by importance. Math-physics was among the last and I was bad enough at both to find journalism as my personal salvation.

I had a good time at Papiu despite being nearly kicked out after my freshman year for setting a record number of missed classes. Contrary to what my professors believed, I was not spending time in bars drinking, doing drugs and buying sweets for cute 14-year-old girls. Still, it is true I spent too much time reading trash literature, including Sandra Brown and Sidney Sheldon. My other reading habits at the time consisted of science fiction and the oeuvre of A. E. van Vogt, Frank Herbert and Isaac Asimov.

I started a high school newspaper called the “Vocea Papiului” in my sophmore year and edited the thing for two years, which pushed me in the direction of journalism and allowed me to approach cute 16-year-old girls (major perk). Then, some forgetable hair styles later, I graduated.

When I visited Papiu yesterday I decided it was time to take the camera along for the ride. The building is in a horrible shape with almost everything falling apart, which is the fate of many old Romanian institutions with any kind of reputation, where the little money available is spent on crap such as a protective fence around the courtyard.

Welcome to Papiu, the chosen educational establishment of snobs from along the Mures valley. I hope you’ll enjoy this photographic tribute.

Al. Papiu Ilarian
Welcome. This is the front of the building and yes, that is the statue of Mr. Papiu outfront, a man who aided revolutions, cultural development and jurisprudence. And yes, we did have to do essays on him. At least I had to.

In the hallways
Students over the years have said the large and (largely) dark hallways make Papiu look like a prison. The fence they built in the late 1990s around the courtyard to prevent students from jumping to skip classes only helps fuel that comparison.

Fixing up the girls' bathroom
My cousin says they are fixing up the girls’ bathroom. The truth is the tiles taken off the walls and the doors yanked from the stalls are the only ones to have been damaged for reconstruction purposes. The rest has looked creepy for a while.

A view of the courtyard
There are about 1,000 students in this high school every year. Every 50 minutes, most of them come out here for “pauza” (break). There is a 20-minute break in mid-day. Before the days of the fence, students would leave the courtyard to go get food, smoke or just cut the next few classes. Many great soccer memories were built out here.

Boys locker
The boys locker room next to the gym has been a scary sight for the decade I have known Papiu. We rarely did more in there than wash our smelly arm pits after gym class. This room was so awful we prefered to change in the classroom.

Papiu Gym
Here’s a shot of the gym. We only used it when the gym teacher forced us to stay inside for basketball. We preferred the courtyard for soccer no matter the weather.

My brother and my cousin's classroom
The closer you are to the teachers’ lounge and the amphitheater the better classrooms tend to look. Here is the classroom that my brother and my cousin studied in. The single student benches are a recent addition–my brother says they weren’t there when he graduated in 2003.

My old classroom
My classroom was removed from the central hub of the building and has thus always been smaller and dingier. Days spent at that blackboard in math class still give me occasional nightmares.

A bench from the past
Some classrooms have relatively newer benches, but I found this relic in my old classroom. I used to sit in one of these. Notice the scribbles inside the bench–that’s generations worth of wisdom. People loved these benches because they had a solid piece of wood on the front and teachers couldn’t see what you were doing underneath. Think cheating more than anything else.

5 Responses to “Papiu highschool wants you”

  1. It actually looks pretty…wholesome. The chalkboards, the desks, its like a 1950s highschool movie.

  2. This post got me nostalgic. I guess I should visit my old highschool some day as well. Any encounters with former professors?

  3. Cristian , eu si domnul meu venim la Peninsula vineri dupa-amiaza (22.07). Punem de o intalnire ?

  4. Facem. Ti-am trimis un e-mail. Sper ca am nimerit adresa.

  5. Salut, Cristi. Sunt Paul, fostul tau coleg de liceu 🙂
    Ma bucur sa iti vad blog-ul. Am cautat o adresa de e-mail a ta, dar nu am gasit, ca sa mai vorbim.
    P.S. Te rog trimite-mi un mail ca sa iti stiu adresa ta.

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