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The history of the “Budowlanka” school

On July 10th, 1876 the Tatra Society formed The Wood Carving School in Zakopane.

It was the first vocational school in Podhale and one of the oldest school which prepared the students for this profession. After two years it changed its name for the Caesarean –Royal Vocational School of Wood Industry and Franciszek Neużil, Czech and Edgar Kovats, Caesarean counselor became its first head teachers. In 1883 the first rector in Zakopane, Józef Stolarczyk, consecrated the new school building in 8 Krupówki Street, which has been lasting till today. During the length of the Austrian annexed territory the school started to be successful and famous for students’ wooden works displayed during various exhibitions, for example: in Wien they took part in the exhibition, during which they were given the praise by the Austrian emperor and in Paris the carpenters’ branch achieved the success.

In those days, there was also the beginning of the Zakopane style in architecture inspired by Stanisław Witkiewicz (well-known Polish painter, photographer, writer, playwright and philosopher). The next head teacher, Stanisław Barabasz, was the first Polish principal on this post and was the one who also propagated this new style in the house building industry, introducing regional decorative techniques. What is more, he employed the Polish teachers and replaced the Austrian models with the Polish patterns. He is also known as a pioneer of modern skiing in Poland. Barabasz concluded the Austrian period of school and introduced it to the time between the wars. He finished his term in 1922 in independent Poland.

During the period of twenty years between the wars the head teacher Karol Stryjeński, a sculptor and outstanding architect (the author of the construction design and building of the ski jump on Krokiew) made significant reforms. He turned the craft’s school into the artistic one and owing to that the students won the laurels during the exhibition in Paris in 1925.

At the times of occupation, just during the World War II, the school still existed; however, it changed its name for the Vocational School of the Highlander (Regional) Folk Art. Unfortunately, the German lowered effectively the standard of general and vocational schooling allowing only for copying the history buildings of the region. That attempt of destroying the school met with the Polish teachers’ objections who organized clandestine meetings which aim was to educate the youth and maintain the proper level of education.

After the war the school popularly known as “Budowlanka” was reorganized several times. In 1948 the teacher of sculpting, Antoni Kenar, became an artistic supervisor of the sculpting branch, that was transformed into the State Secondary School of Art and since then it has been the separate school.

In 1951 the new name “Vocational School” came into life instead the “Junior High and Secondary School of Building”. In 1957, the three-year “School of Building Craft” was formed and the three-year Technical College was based on it. It became more famous in 1976 as the Complex of the Vocational Schools and one year later it was given the name of M.D. Władysław Matlakowski who became the patron of the school. Since 1992 the school has been functioning under this name. Władysław Matlakowski was the well-known surgeon from Warsaw fascinated with the folk art and highlanders’ culture in Podhale. Furthermore, he appeared to be not only one of the first explorers of these issues, but also a great lover of the Tatra Mountains. As a result of this fascination and the friendship with Stanisław Witkiewicz, he wrote his three main books based on the observations of regional crafts and his fondness of highlander people and beautiful landscapes.

There should be added some achievements, actions and initiatives of the “Budowlanka” teachers, which has promoted the school in Podhale, Poland and abroad in recent years.

In 1957 Stefan Rogalski took the initiative of founding the sport club “Malta” that became the source of sport talents. In 1963 Wiesław Białas called into being Amateur Film Club. He also established the folk band “Budorze” in 1969 which won the Gold Hatchet (the main prize) on the International Festival of Highlander Folklore in Zakopane. It has been existing till today. In 1969 there was also the beginning of the Technical College of the Regional House Building, the only such school in Poland. Its own educational program is designed by the teachers from “Budowlanka” supervised by Tadeusz Stępień. This type of school existed continuously for 37 years, to 2006, when the last graduates left it.

Nowadays there are about 300 students learning in the Complex of Vocational Schools in four different types of it:

- The Technical College of House Building,

- The Technical College of Landscape Designing,

- The Vocational School (professions: carpenter, joiner, and plumber).