The oldest educational institution of the city last year turned 70 years old, it was built in 1949. Until 1949, before this building was constructed in the style of the classical Empire, the first school had also existed, but in a completely different design. The old, wooden predecessor, with several rooms, officially appeared 85 years ago, in 1935, so the school No. 1 is the same age as the Norilsk Combine.
Recall that in one of our past walks we visited the Old Town, where in 1935 industrial offices, housing for bosses, barracks, including – as a necessity – the first school, grew up on Gornaya Street of a new workers’ village. Later it was transferred to Oktyabrskaya Street in Sotsgorod (it was no longer the GULAG, but the social Norilsk).
Here is what the Zapolyarny Vestnik local newspaper wrote in 2012: “The first school appeared at the foot of the Norilsk Mountains in 1930. It was located in a hut, in three rooms, one of which was designed for class. Eight Dolgan children attended the school. In 1936, it was located in a one-storey wooden structure, where there were six to eight students in the classes. It was a harsh time when there was not even enough wood for heating”.
In the post-war period, the city was rapidly under construction, and the first building of Komsomolskaya Street in 1949 was a new spacious four-storey school. It was a decade for 880 students. They built it with lightning speed – in three summer months. The building was erected mainly by prisoners, working in two shifts. The first director was the WWII veteran Boris Sukhomlinov.
Furniture for the school was made right there, in Norilsk – at that time the combine had its own furniture workshop. To decide which desks and chairs to install in the classrooms, they arranged a mini-exhibition of samples for public viewing.
The school had beautiful bright classrooms with four to five windows, wide corridors, huge assembly and sports halls, and even a winter garden – at the same time it served as a room for biology classes.
From the very foundation of the school, a wonderful student museum was opened there, in which letters of famous graduates were stored, including the USSR People’s Artist Tenor Vladislav Piavko, the writer of songs about Norilsk Boris Vershinin, the former director of the Nadezhdinsky Metallurgical Plant Yuri Sukhobaevsky, and many others.
Combined with the Physics School in 2017, the oldest educational institution of Norilsk was called the Secondary School No. 1 with an in-depth study of physics and mathematics named after Avraamy Zavenyagin. Children of 1–6th grades study in the building on Komsomolskaya Street, 7–11th grades go to Sevastopolskaya, 8a.
School building number 1 is a kind of monument to the era. It was built just in three months and all the work, including digging pits, was done manually – with picks and shovels.
The beautiful building of the oldest school still includes the memory of the unique architects who designed it. Three of them – Vitold Nepokoichitsky, Lidia Minenko and Fyodor Usov – arrived in the Arctic on their own free will, but the Armenian architect Gevork Kochar had a prisoner status.
The school, located in the center of Norilsk, has its secrets and legends. It is known that Vitold Nepokoichitsky saw his own project a little differently regarding Leninsky Prospekt. He wanted a more significant and solemn view from the main thoroughfare of the city to school No. 1 than just through a small arch.
Historians write that the school is not in vain named after Zavenyagin. Both the building on 6 Komsomolskaya Street and the houses on Leninsky Prospekt, before its intersection with Sovetskaya Street, were built according to the concept of the former director of the Norilsk Combine. Avraamy Zavenyagin believed that not a shift camp, but a modern, beautiful city should have been built next to the metallurgical giant.
Text: Marina Khoroshevskaya, Photo: Nikolay Schipko and the archives of the Norilsk citizens