It was 30 years ago that I first entered the building of the Mathematical Grammar School in Belgrade. I’ve come a long way from that little girl, who arrived for enrolment carrying a folder containing her award from the National competition in mathematics and was overjoyed when she heard the words “Bravo, you’ve been accepted!” to today, when I’m the principal of the Mathematical Grammar School and the first woman at the helm of this institution.
In choosing to be a professor of mathematics at the Mathematical Grammar School, I chose the best job in the world. The Mathematical Grammar School is attended by the best students in the world, who inspire you to be better every day and present you with new challenges, while you often also learn from them. They motivate you to work on yourself and advance every day. They have incredible talents, not only for the natural sciences, but for everything. They read Shakespeare in English, act, attend music schools, participate in literary competitions, win competitions in rowing and acting, volunteer at the Serbian Red Cross and international camps.
Yesterday our best student, Dobrica Jovanović, told a journalist that he likes to dance at weddings because he danced folklore as a little child and hasn’t been to a wedding for a long time. That brightened up a gloomy day for me. I watched the boy next to me, who’s won almost everything that can be won in competitive mathematics and physics at the world level, only 13 gold medals in the previous six years, and who – according to all standards – is certainly among the five best graduates in the world, if not the best, who hasn’t lost a shred of decency and kindness, and who modestly says that he doesn’t know whether he’ll be accepted by the most prestigious faculties that he has applied to attend. We live in a society where, at every turn, we meet arrogant people who think they deserve various benefits. In such a society, there is a young man who should serve as inspiration to all young people in Serbia.
That is the essence of the stories of most of our students. These are the stories of the lives of Dr Luka Milićević, Teodor von Burg, Jelena Ivančić and many other exceptional individuals who’ve graduated from our school. Talent, work, dedication, goal, and anything is possible!
The Mathematical Grammar School is our family. It takes care of us and we take care of it, and that’s the magic that either touches you or doesn’t. That’s the case for every student of this school, every employee, associate, parent, but also for the noble people who felt this magic when they met us. The magic never dissipates and we’re happy.
Last year was very difficult, but we succeeded! Employees, students and former students (especially Aleksandar Kavčić and Nikola Spasojević who helped in the procurement of equipment), are deserving of credit for the fact that we quickly organised high-quality online classes and once again showed that everything can be achieved.
The children, pupils of the Mathematical Grammar School, were my greatest strength during this year. They gave their all every day for everything to be as normal, to laugh, fall in love, compete, give interviews, carry computers to prepare the space for our new TV studio, to be there for me every day, just as I am there for them. Children have not lost every compass of decency; children still have empathy within them and a desire to help others – neither COVID-19 nor fear for their own lives have changed that. They change the world and make it a better place for all of us to live.
While it has such pupils, the Mathematical Grammar School doesn’t need to worry about its future.