The school "Atë Pjetër Meshkalla" (a Jesuit Scutarino who opposed the communist regime), directed by the Jesuit P., is the continuation of the ancient "Saverian College", founded in Scutari in the 1877 by the Jesuits at the request of some Scutarine families .
The "Saveriano College", which was practically the first 'structured' school in Albania, was born as a commercial school. The College was entrusted with the education of the children of the families of Scutari to become educated, honest and skilled in the world of commerce.
We recall, in fact, that at that time the city of Scutari, with a significant Catholic community, was one of the most important commercial centers in the Balkans. After the 1920 the College took the high school address.
The coat of arms of the College represents the two-headed eagle, the symbol of the Albanian flag. At the top was written the program: "For God, for the fatherland, for progress". The school's motto was "Work, science, discipline" and, in parallel, a great deal of importance was given to languages, science subjects, art and sport.
This school, also open to some Muslim students and teachers, in the first fifty years of life was attended by 2532 Christian and 159 Muslim pupils.
Formed according to the Jesuit educational tradition, the former students of the Xaverian College have always made an excellent contribution to mutual understanding between citizens of Christian faith and of the Islamic faith, giving a significant contribution to improving a problem that, over time, has manifested itself in all its extreme gravity.
Among the eminent Jesuits who distinguished themselves in those decades for their educational work we remember in particular the Italian P. Giovanni Fausti and the Albanian Father Daniel Dajani who, just at the beginning of the Communist dictatorship, testified, up to martyrdom, their love for God and Albania, heroically defending the values of faith, freedom and culture taught to so many young people. 31 December 1945 was arrested and shot, after a summary trial, at the dawn of 4 March 1946. With the communist dictatorship all the works of the Jesuits in Albania were annihilated, dispersing and destroying the precious cultural, scientific and religious heritage built by the Fathers and Brothers of the Society of Jesus in seventy years of intense work.
After the fall of communism in the 1991, the Jesuits immediately returned to Albania.
Thus, in the wake of the ancient College, the new educational institution open to all developed, which took the name of "Pjeter Meshkalla", in honor of the Jesuit Scutarino, who died in 1988, who in the memory of the people remains a symbol of faith, culture and resistance, for his courage, in denouncing communist oppression.
The school was reopened in the 1994. It is currently a high school, which in the Italian school system would be closer to - but would not coincide with - a scientific high school.
The structure where the lessons were held was the building of a public school built during the communist regime on the Jesuit grounds. Since the end of the 2008, this old structure has been progressively demolished in order to build a new building. All the works were carried out without interrupting the lessons.
The school today
Father Lello Lanzilli SJ - who kindly responded favorably to the request for information for the publication of an article on AlbaniaNews - is currently the Director of the Lyceum 'Ate Pjeter Meshkalla'. Father Lanzilli, who has been in Albania for a little over 18, lived in Tirana for two and a half years, working mainly with university and youth ministry. In June of the 1996 he was assigned to Scutari with the assignment of Spiritual Father in the Seminary and professor of Psychology and Moral in the Philosophical-Theological Institute e. since September 2010, has been appointed Director of the High School.
Today the new building for the 2010 - 11 school year hosts 489 pupils. These students come from the city (66%) and surroundings (34%). In the structure there are 18 classes, 6 parallel classes for each year (The Albanian school system provides for high school, as is ours, a cycle of 3 years of study). In each class there are on average 26 pupils. To enter the school, a competition must be won. The number of registration requests (over 300 per year) is in fact much higher than the number of places available (around 180 students in the first year classes. But in the future, when the construction is completed, they will become 210).
In the facility that is already in operation there is 1 computer lab and 1 biology lab. Since the construction is not yet fully completed we have adapted the environment for the library to the gym and we have provisionally placed the library in the administrative office.
The Director of the school is a Jesuit Father. The executive staff is also composed of two Vice-directors and the Board of Directors, made up of 7 people as a whole.
Almost all the teachers are secular, except for 4 of them: a Jesuit and a sister for the teaching of Religious Culture, a sister for Philosophy and a sister for Ethics. In addition to the 37 teachers who cover school subjects, there are also other 7 teachers who teach the second foreign language (the first is English and is mandatory for all). In our school the children can choose between: French, Spanish, German and Italian.
The school has a consolidated organizational structure in which the organs, roles and tasks of the different members of the educating community are well defined according to the educational project foreseen by the law of the State and by the internal regulation based on the Jesuit pedagogical tradition.
A high quality school
In recent years the school has marked a progressive growth in all aspects. From the teaching point of view, it stood out for the good results achieved, which in some cases were really excellent.
In the 2006-2007 school year the 'Atë Pjetër Meshkalla' school was awarded as the fourth nationally ranked (first among private schools) for the maturity results. In the school year 2009-2010 received a recognition from the Ministry of Education as one of the schools that obtained the best results in the final exams (the second at national level). In various circumstances, some pupils of the school distinguished themselves in the regional, national and international Olympics. Furthermore, over the years some pupils of the school have been awarded the 'Gold Medal' for their school career.
A multi-religious school and attentive to the various problems
Given the multi-religious community (Catholic, Muslim and Orthodox) of Scutari and in general of Albania, an important choice was made for an equally multi-religious school, where students of all religions present in the area can access it through an examination of 'admission. The number of Muslims they attend is in proportion to the number of Muslims who register for the competition. The Muslims who attend are about 20% of the total number. The rest are Catholics (in majority) and some Orthodox.
Trying to meet the economic difficulties of many, the monthly tuition of the students is deliberately low to allow enrolling in the school also for boys and girls from less wealthy families (about 6% of pupils, for example, come from families that live of state subsidies).
The problems of alcohol, drugs, aggression and communication difficulties of which children of this age group are easy prey are at the center of our extracurricular programs. In fact, the school proposes and implements initiatives with these themes, and also makes available a qualified person (psychologist) to raise awareness among children about these important issues.
The goal that intends to reach the school 'Atë Pjetër Meshkalla'
Father Lanzilli summarizes the general objective that the school aims at:
"By promoting the positive aspects of each person's personality, students are prepared to make valid choices in life and be competent in their professional field".
This general objective is achieved through stages and partial objectives that qualify each school year.
FIRST YEAR: Students learn about the rules and the discipline.
SECOND YEAR: Students grow in wisdom and virtue.
THIRD YEAR: Students become accustomed to making free and responsible choices for their own good and for the good of others and of society.
The contribution of Associations and Former Students of Jesuit Colleges
The Association "Entreculturas Alboan" NGO of the Jesuits of Spain and the Association "Brugherio Oltremare" - Association born in the 1965 to support the missionaries with work and prayer - in recent years have given an annual contribution for scholarships in favor of school students. Some Associations of Ex-Jesuits of the Jesuits (Palermo, Milan, "Associazione 'Educare insieme" of Turin) as well as some College of the Company (remember the EXALMASSIMO Association of former students of the Massimiliano Massimo Institute in Rome) give contributions with a certain frequency.
Recently the EXALMASSIMO Association has approved a contribution for three scholarships in favor of Albanian students, equal to the school's annual fee.
The school also receives offers from individuals, offers that are used for scholarships.