The Traditonal Lahti Lyseo
Lahti Lyseo was the first state school in the independent Republic of Finland. When the city of Lahti was founded in 1905, a state secondary school was also to be established, according to the then custom. The decree was, however, delayed due to the years of Russian oppression and wars. It was not until May 21st, 1921 that the President of Finland, K. J. Ståhlberg, was able to issue a decree concerning the foundation of “Lyseo in the city of Lahti”.
The name ”lyseo” originally meant a state secondary school, especially a boys’ school. Lyseo continued to be a boys’ school until 1973, when the first girls enrolled the school and the name was temporarily changed to “Kariniemi Co-educational Secondary School”. Two more years and Lahti joined the Comprehensive School System. At that time Lyseo was taken over by the city and divided to Lahti Lyseo Upper Secondary School and Lahti Lyseo Secondary School.
As a state boys’ school Lyseo was ”a school for talented poor boys”, because the tuition fees were considerably lower than in the other secondary schools in the city. “Talented boys” as well as “talented girls” have prospered in life and can now be found as professors, generals, CEOs, conductors, ministers and in other visible posts.
A long-term characteristic of Lyseo was sports: in the pre-comprehensive school era, Lyseo was the Finnish Champion in secondary school boy sports. The – as of this writing – all-time internationally most successful Finnish soccer team was Lahti Lyseo in 1973, winning bronze medal in ISF (International School Sport Federation) European Championships.
The human culture has continuously been held in esteem, but mathematics and the natural sciences have now taken the place of sports in being the most characteristic of the activities. In 2003 a math-science special curriculum was commenced. The admission must be applied separately. Students of Lyseo have scored medals in the International Science Olympiads in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
The main building of Lahti Lyseo was completed in 1928. The then most gorgeous building in town – well, in exception perhaps to the city hall - was designed by Hjalmar Åberg. The Lahti manor (Historical Museum), the old wing of Lahti Co-Educational School and Lyseo, all his works, still stand out as an inspiring architectural complex in the heart of Lahti. The classical looks of the main building have been described as “strict”, but even now the building offers more space for studies than many a creation of modern architecture. The wing by Lahdenkatu was completed in 1963 and is now in the exclusive use of upper secondary school. The whole complex was renovated meticulously in 1988-1990. There is also a barrack-style construction in the courtyard, which was hastily built as a temporary structure to accommodate the growing number of schoolchildren during the comprehensive school reform in 1975. The need for space has persisted, though, and the “accomplishment of wooden architecture” of the 1970s stands firmly in place, at least for another year.