Kantonsschule Küsnacht

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Kantonsschule Küsnacht
The main building next to the church
The main building next to the church
type of school Cantonal school (grammar school)
founding 1832

Dorfstrasse 30
8700 Küsnacht

place Küsnacht
Canton Zurich
Country Switzerland
Coordinates 686524  /  241305 coordinates: 47 ° 19 '1 "  N , 8 ° 34' 59"  O ; CH1903:  686524  /  241305
student about 560
Teachers about 115
management Corinne Elsener
Website www.kkn.ch

The Küsnacht canton school , formerly Küsnacht seminar, is a cantonal grammar school with a focus on modern languages ​​and music in Küsnacht in the Swiss canton of Zurich . It was founded in 1832 and is the canton's oldest teacher training institution. In the 2020/21 school year, the KKN will be attended by 559 pupils. The rector will be Corinne Elsener from the beginning of the 2020/21 school year.


Outside of the city of Zurich , there were hardly any village schools in the last quarter of the 18th century where proper instruction took place. The teachers were often uneducated fringe figures without training and with their income, which was less than that of a day laborer, were on one of the lowest steps of the social ladder. Many parents thought school was superfluous and preferred to keep the children at home so that they could help in the house or in the fields.

After its victory in 1830, the liberal movement enacted a radical liberal constitution on March 10, 1831 , and in a short period of time established a modern, secularized school system from elementary school to university . However, since this could only be successful if enough trained teachers were available, the establishment of a teachers' seminar was of great importance.

The location was hotly debated. The Liberals wanted the seminar to be in the countryside; firstly to escape the conservative influence of the city, secondly, so that future teachers could be trained close to the people and far from the amusements and amenities of the city . The locations named include Küsnacht , Andelfingen ZH , Greifensee ZH , Kloten , Wollishofen and Embrach .

The choice fell on the liberal and politically active Küsnacht. This is where the "Küsnachter Memorial" was created, a liberal pamphlet in which a new cantonal constitution with equal rights for town and country was called for. The church should be rewarded for its progressive attitudes. So that the future teachers could spread the free-spirited (liberal) ideas, they should be trained in a free-spirited environment. In addition, Küsnacht was close to the city and could therefore be well monitored by the responsible authorities. Sufficient places to eat for the students could also be found here.

The time of Thomas Scherr

The first director

Six applications were received for the position of seminar director. The Zurich government council elected 31-year-old Ignaz Thomas Scherr as director with twelve against one vote for life . He had not applied for the position of seminar director because he wrongly feared that he had spoiled things with the Küsnachtern because he had advocated Greifensee as the seat of the seminar. Scherr and his family moved into an apartment in the “zur Traube” house on Wiltisgasse.

The first seminar in the «Seehof»

The «Seehof», engraving by Rudolf Ringger

There was room for teacher training in the "Seehof" house owned by Captain Nägeli, directly on Lake Zurich . The "Seehof" was built in 1650 by a daughter of General Werdmüller and her husband Hanspeter Lochmann, a colonel in the French service. Two rooms were available for teaching on the ground floor and two on the first floor.

The inauguration with 2000 guests took place on May 7th, 1832, a beautiful spring day. The Mayor of Zurich Melchior Hirzel handed over the new “School Teacher Institute” to the new director Thomas Scherr, and the Küsnacht government councilor Johann Jakob Fierz thanked the village on behalf of the community for the honor it had shown the village. The first two-year course at the Seehof began on the following day with 30 pupils, on Tuesday, May 8th, 1832. Scherr was supported by another main teacher and an assistant teacher for music.

The first years

The educational movement spread rapidly across the entire canton. Scherr developed an activity that is hardly comprehensible today. He taught most subjects himself, took care of the management, offered further training courses for teachers, wrote pedagogical writings, visited - on foot - village schools throughout the canton and was also a member of the cantonal education council.

Scherr writes: « The life and goings-on as it currently prevails in Küsnacht cannot be described. Not a day goes by without inquisitive guests showing up. Every day that a village school is on vacation, the teacher rushes to the seminar to get instruction. I was able to teach 6–10 lessons during the day, then continue with organizational work and pedagogical writings at night until the next day, and start the circle again in the morning, cheerful and happy. Or I could rush to the meeting of the Education Council in Zurich late in the evening in the storm and rain and, after a laborious walk home, get the corrections to the written essay. Those were the best days of my life; I felt the power and strength of taking up a creative idea. »

At the beginning of April 1833, a public annual examination took place in the Seehof for the first time to general applause. The Zurich Education Council soon received requests from municipalities across the canton with the request that seminarians want to replace the often uneducated village schoolmasters. According to Scherr, not one of the seminarians was able to complete the training, since all of them had previously been seconded to village schools. The Küsnacht seminar was considered to be the most exemplary and best run in Switzerland.

The move to the Johanniterhaus

Johanniterhaus and church

After just two years, the rooms in the «Seehof» ​​became too narrow for the seminar. In spring 1834, the Government presented the school a year earlier vacated office building available, the main building of the former Commandery of St. John . In 1837 Scherr was able to acquire the «Seehof» ​​privately.

Scherr's dismissal

Application for admission from a secondary school pupil from Marthalen : « Respected Mr. Mayor. According to the advertisement dated March 6th of this year, which was indented in the official gazette, according to which new pupils were admitted to the seminary in Küsnacht, the final underdog also dared to come to the same person with the reverent request that he too, enclosing the required certificates the number of new pupils who would like to join the above-mentioned seminar at the beginning of the summer half-year for the sake of education as a primary school teacher and Enclosed, promising careful use of the educational establishment, gives himself the honor of giving you his most dutiful respect and the like. Insure allegiance! Marthalen on 16 th March 1837 Heinrich Korrodi secondary school students. »

As much as Scherr was successful and admired on the one hand, on the other hand he was an enemy of the conservatives . In particular, the clergy who had previously controlled the school saw their authority threatened. After the victory of the reactionary circles in the Züriputsch on September 6, 1839, Scherr fell victim to the reshuffling of the most important authorities in which conservatives took a seat. Although elected for life, he was suspended in office in the summer of 1839 and placed on a third of his salary. He had to vacate his office by November 1, 1840 and was released on May 1, 1840. In an appeal to the government council against his unlawful dismissal, he was defeated.

On his release, Scherr wrote:

  • What did I do wrong?
  • 1. I wanted to raise the elementary school to a free, independent institution, but the hatred of many clergy punishes me for this.
  • 2. I wanted an elementary school from which a noble, reasonable people emerged, which is why the aristocrats hate me.
  • 3. I wanted to provide the poorest child with a path to school and a cheerful youth, which is why I am haunted by the self-interest of many factory owners and the brutality of unscrupulous parents.

On August 17, 1840, a second pompous opening ceremony took place in Küsnacht, at which Scherr's merits were not mentioned; instead there were assurances to the conservatives and the church.

Directors in the 19th century

Johann Heinrich Bruch 1840–1846

The conservative appointed Dr. Johann Heinrich Bruch from Wädenswil , a pedantic and dry exponent of Orthodox theology , had a hard time as the successor of the charismatic Scherr. Only after Scherr's last pupils had left the seminary did calm return.

The old practice school

In 1840 the new seminar law extended the training to three years, albeit against stubborn opposition from the conservatives. The seminar also had its own practice school in today's Biohaus in 1844, where seminarians taught village children. Instead of gymnastics, agricultural work was included in the curriculum: on the large meadow in front of the schoolhouse, each pupil had to get a few beds of their own.

Bruch attached great importance to the establishment of a Konvikt for everyone and wanted to strengthen the educational influence of the director. In fact, not all seminarians were in good hands at their places of residence. In 1840 only 26 of the 75 students lived in the Konvikt, the others had got used to the freer life in the host families and did not want to comply with the strict rules of the boarding school.

On the occasion of the annual examination in April 1844, the Liberals opened a sharp attack in the press on the mindless scrapping of memory stuff and the lack of preparation for the practice. When the conservative rule came to an end in 1845, Bruch resigned from his post and founded a private girls' institute in Zurich.

Heinrich Zollinger 1849–1855
Heinrich Zollinger

Under the liberal regime, the third law on seminars came into being in 1848, in which specific church regulations were no longer applicable, such as attending Sunday services; instead, French became mandatory. The entry age has also been raised from 17 to 18, as some seminarians in front of the class turned out to be too young for the profession.

As the successor of Bruch, the teaching staff wanted Thomas Scherr back in order to redress the injustice committed against him; the conservatives were against it. In order not to provide any reason for argument, one of Scherr's students was elected as the new director, Heinrich Zollinger , who had previously worked as a botanist in Java . Zollinger was not happy in his office. He disapproved of the Konvikt and was rejected by conservatives and liberals alike as being too left-wing. In 1855 he resigned and traveled with his family back to Java, where he built a coconut plantation. Zollinger died in Java in 1859 at the age of 41.

David Fries 1857-1875
The teaching staff 1874

Fierce fighting broke out over the choice of Zollinger's successor. The teaching staff advertised their candidate so obtrusively that the Education Council made its own choice: the new director was David Fries , pastor's assistant at St. Peter and private lecturer at the University of Zurich .

“If the man lets himself be warned, he won't accept. Only the candidate for the faculty can assert himself in this position. Everyone else's life is made blood-sour ”, wrote the“ Eidgenössische Zeitung ”. She was proved right: Fries broke his office. As a cool intellectual he found no access to the students and as a townspeople he did not understand the simple country boys. Without humor and without natural authority, he tried to maintain order with regulations. Serious disagreements also arose in the college, which were fought out in public with polemical writings in the notorious "seminar dispute" in 1864/65. The main subject of the attacks on Fries was the Konvikt, which was rejected by the teaching staff as a " Jesuit straitjacket"; under such discipline no free teacher personality could develop. In 1871, Fries had to agree to reduce the compulsory Konvikt to the lower two classes, and in 1875 the Konvikt was closed at all. In the same year Fries resigned. In 1874, the first four girls were accepted during Fries' term of office.

School clubs

As in other secondary schools, there were also several student associations in Küsnacht, some of which were based on student associations . Its history began in Küsnacht in 1869, when the Küsnacht gymnastics club asked Director Fries whether seminarians could join. Fries refused; that didn't work: the gymnasts went to have a drink after their exercises , while the seminarians were not allowed to work. That is why the first student club, the seminar gymnastics club , was founded in 1870 , to which half of all pupils joined. It was the most popular club and at times had as many members as the other clubs combined. At the Swiss Federal Gymnastics Festival in Lausanne in 1909 they took 20th place out of 454 clubs.

A year later, the club was Stenographis Cuosa founded, the shorthand for Proud - Schrey teach and should spread. The Cuosa organized courses for the first-grade seminarians, thereby saving the canton the cost of an assistant teacher.

In the reading club lectures were given, poems recited and authors introduced. Theatrical performances took place every two years, even if the teachers' convention was not entirely comfortable with boys and girls getting together without supervision.

Another association was the Fraternitas , which brought together students who had committed themselves to abstaining from alcohol - which was met with suspicion in Küsnacht, where the older teachers often spent the long morning break in the "ox" and returned to class with beer-nosed eyes .

Some girls also supported the ideas of the Fraternitas and secretly came together. Since the girls were of course forbidden from membership in the school clubs, they called their gatherings "wreaths", which the convention "tolerated with a growl".

A subgroup of the Fraternitas, so to speak, were the migratory birds who undertook long migrations while singing songs to musical instruments and who strived for a simple and natural way of life. The Küsnachter group, which also includes apprentices, was founded in May 1909. The foundation was approved by the convention in October 1910 on the condition that no girls take part in the excursions. The European migratory bird movement came to an abrupt end with the outbreak of the First World War.

Heinrich Wettstein 1875–1895
Heinrich Wettstein

Wettstein had already been a member of the supervisory committee for six years and was elected as a teacher at the seminar in 1873. Wettstein had worked out a new teaching law together with Government Councilor Sieber, which, among other things, provided for the dissolution of the seminars; instead, the future teachers should be trained first at a secondary school, then at the university. In 1872 the bill was thrown away in a referendum; the aversion to university-trained teachers was particularly strong in rural areas.

In 1875 Wettstein took over the management of a school that he had wanted to abolish a few years ago. Wettstein, already the dominant teacher personality under Fries, was a representative of a new, scientific age and author of textbooks for biology, physics, geography and drawing. A table work designed by him attracted international attention at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1878. The Küsnacht seminar was then attended by the then French Minister of Education Ferdinand Buisson and by the later Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau .

In his new seminar curriculum from 1874, mathematics and science were given more hours, German and French significantly fewer. The greatest sacrifice had to be made by religion, which was cut from eleven to four hours, which led to village priests warning prospective seminarians about this “God-denier”.

In 1882 the seminar's 50th birthday was celebrated. After a celebration in the Reformed Church, the party of 720 people took the paddle steamer "Helvetia" to Zurich, where a simple banquet took place in the old concert hall . From the invoices of a wine shop that have still been received, it can be concluded that there was a good "cup". In addition, there was a lot of singing, toasts were made and numerous speeches were made, some of which got lost in the crowd. The students did not appear. A month later a party was held for them in the Küsnacht restaurant "Sonne".

Wettstein shaped the Küsnacht seminar and its importance can certainly be compared with Scherr. His " exemplary teaching, his balanced determination, his understanding of destitute workers 'and peasants' sons and the trust he placed in his students impressed everyone who had anything to do with him ." During his time the gymnasium and the new schoolhouse, the «Italian Villa», were built. Heinrich Wettstein died in 1895. A street in Küsnacht is named after him, immediately west of the seminar area. One of his sons was the geologist Alexander Wettstein .


A class with girls, 1890

Director Wettstein wanted to prevent inadequately trained women from teaching children in the villages as «gods of teaching», as was the case in the canton of Bern; therefore boys and girls should receive the same education. Wettstein prevailed with his opinion: the teachers ' seminar in Winterthur could not hold up, and the seminar department of the daughter's school in Zurich had to follow the Küsnacht curriculum.

The co-education had proved in Küsnacht from the beginning. Wettstein emphasized that the girls showed themselves to be quite a match for the boys in class and that effective competition was the result - even if there was a strict separation between the sexes. Boys and girls said "you" to each other. The girls and the professor went into the classroom first and sat in the first row, then the boys entered. After the lesson, the girls left the room first. The girls spent the break in a special girls' room. They also went on school trips separately. In 1912 the two groups met briefly on the Malojapass , and since everything there evidently went on in an orderly manner , the first Alpine trip together took place in 1913.

If teachers noticed that tender bonds were being formed, the seminarian was called to the management and during a conversation he was “seriously admonished” - although not all young men returned to the playground cured. And in the nearby Tobel, the “amorous hinterland” of the seminar, the teachers were rarely to be found.

Even so, the state continued to regard women as secondary teachers for a long time and were only welcome when there was a shortage of teachers. In 1918 the government council wanted to oblige teachers to resign when they got married. However, this « celibacy law » was rejected after a fierce vote.

In order to keep the number of female teachers down, there were grotesque injustices in entrance exams: girls who had passed with a 4.8 in and of themselves were rejected, while boys with a 4.2 were accepted. Girls would get married soon anyway, it was said, against which the teachers' convention successfully defended itself. During the First World War, the girls wanted to be denied access to the seminary at all.

When the shortage of teachers became more and more serious after 1960, everyone was glad for every girl who entered the seminary. In 1958 an all-girls class was formed for the first time; In 1974 there were as many boys as there were girls in the seminary. Today the girls are in the majority.

Arnold Pfenniger, Heinrich Utzinger 1895–1906
At times the courtyard was used as a gymnasium; around 1905

As the successor to Heinrich Wettstein, the Education Council elected the previous Vice Director Arnold Pfenniger, who, however, resigned after three years in 1898 due to illness. Even the favorite of the Zurich teaching staff, the Germanist Heinrich Utzinger, who was elected Pfenniger's successor in 1899, had to resign in 1906 due to illness.

The 20th century

Edwin Zollinger 1906-1920
The teaching staff in 1907

The rector of the girls' secondary school in Basel, Edwin Zollinger, was elected to be Utzinger's successor. He had been a student in the seminar under Heinrich Wettstein, then worked as a secondary teacher and did a doctorate in geology. For the students, Zollinger was a worthy gentleman with a goatee, but he was not appreciated as a teacher because of his dry lessons. Because of his hearing problems, he resigned in 1920 and settled in Mexico, where he died in 1938 at the age of 81.

In Zollinger's time a new curriculum was created, which came into effect in the spring of 1900. Since belief in the natural sciences had lost some of its conviction and the Küsnacht graduates often showed poor knowledge in secondary teacher courses, the humanistic subjects were upgraded. The curriculum showed the effort to achieve a thorough training of primary school teachers within the four-year course since 1859.

Teacher abundance

With the end of the First World War a great surplus of teachers began; many young teachers came back from the border service and wanted to do their job. In 1918 there were 360 ​​unemployed teachers in the canton of Zurich. The number of seminarians was to be reduced and girls were no longer wanted. While there were 256 seminarians in Küsnacht in 1911, there were 106 in 1919, which filled almost four classes. Classrooms were empty, the gymnasium and drawing rooms were only occupied half the time, and 13 of the 15 main teachers had to fill up their workloads at other cantonal schools.

In addition, the Küsnacht seminar had already lost its monopoly position in teacher training in 1869 with the opening of the Protestant seminary in Unterstrass , and in 1876 the seminar department of the municipal daughter's school was added. In 1905, the Board of Education decided to set up a primary teacher course for high school graduates from Zurich and Winterthur at the university , which meant that Küsnacht no longer had the northern canton and the Winterthur region as a catchment area. The number of registrations continued to decline; once there were just 17 applicants with whom a class could be formed.

Heinrich Flaach, Robert Scherrer 1922–1926

In view of the uncertain future of the seminar, the authorities decided not to elect a director for the time being. The management was taken care of by the previous deputy director Heinrich Flaach, who was elected director in March 1922. Just a month later, he had to take a leave of absence due to severe tuberculosis . In mid-May he died in the Davos-Clavadel high altitude clinic . He was followed by the natural scientist Robert Scherrer, who retired in 1926 for reasons of age.

Hans Schälchlin 1926–1945
Hans Schälchlin

Finally, there were two candidates left to succeed Scherrer: secondary teachers Emil Gassmann from Winterthur and Hans Schälchlin from the Ilgenstrasse schoolhouse in Zurich. The Education Directorate decided with the casting vote in favor of 37-year-old Schälchlin. Schälchlin, himself a former seminarist from Küsnacht, was eleven years younger than Gassmann, had a doctorate in education and psychology and was already on the supervisory committee of the seminar. Schälchlin succeeded in bringing the seminar out of stagnation by undertaking various reforms. The previous number of lessons has been reduced from over 40 and the subject matter has been adapted accordingly. Instead of the previous practice school, where individual seminarians taught in Küsnachter classes, Schälchlin introduced teaching internships, where the prospective teachers taught one week in the third grade and two weeks in the fourth grade in various classes in the city and in the country. Schälchlin visited all interns himself, which was only possible because he owned a car.

At the suggestion of students, Schälchlin introduced ski camps, which he managed himself. In 1937, the voluntary camps were replaced by compulsory ski courses in which systematic instruction was given. Schälchlin's numerous innovations and reforms, some of which are still in force today, also included the introduction of half-class teaching in individual subjects, the simplification of entrance exams with options, the participation of secondary teachers as experts, sports days as school festivals, swimming as a compulsory, and division the final exams in two stages, the introduction of visiting days for parents and a worthy graduation ceremony when the graduates are discharged. The number of registrations increased and parallel classes could be introduced again.


The centenary of the seminar coincided with the Great Depression . The seminar went well; there were disagreements in the college, but not yet a split into two camps. The celebrations began on Friday evening with a torchlight procession by the seminarians through the decorated village, led by the music society «Eintracht». They met in the pouring rain on the school grounds, where the seminarians were singing a student song. Afterwards, first a student and then director Schälchlin gave a speech.

The teaching staff in 1932
Practice school

On Saturday, May 28, 1932, the ceremony took place in the church. In his speech, Schälchlin referred to the teacher training law under discussion. The exhibited works of the students from the drawing and writing lessons met with recognition. The students were upset: they were passed over at the celebration.

The Road to the Teacher Education Act of 1938

In connection with the teacher training reform, Mousson's educational councilor presented eight theses on teacher training in autumn 1926. The preliminary training should take place at the Zurich canton schools, the actual specialist training at a “cantonal teacher training school in close cooperation with the university”. All of the files were handed over to seminar director Schälchlin with the task of working out a plan for teacher training together with the teaching staff and the supervisory committee of the seminar.

In numerous meetings, the teachers' convention under Schälchlin's leadership discussed its draft for a “pedagogical high school” and a subsequent “pedagogical institute”. For this purpose, a legal text was drawn up that was approved by the responsible commission of the Cantonal Council at the end of 1931.

The outbreak of economic crisis did not offer a favorable climate for an expensive reorganization and the chance of getting away with it in a referendum was very small. In 1932, a social democratic member of the cantonal council requested that " the proposal be removed from the agenda for an indefinite period of time ". A year later the business was written off without ever being discussed.

On February 18, 1935, the 1931 bill was put forward again, but again narrowly rejected by the Cantonal Council . National Councilor Reichling then submitted a motion to the cantonal council : The seminar should follow on from the third grade of secondary school and the training should be extended by one to five years. Director Schälchlin was again given the task of preparing the draft law. This time the goal was achieved: in February 1938 the cantonal council approved, and on July 3, 1939 the people adopted the new teacher training law with a large majority. It came into force on January 1, 1939. The division of teacher training into a general sub-seminar and a vocational upper seminar was thus specified.

After the war

After the beginning of the Second World War, a big argument broke out in the college. The causes are complex: personal antipathies and interests, ideological contradictions and school issues, everything merged into one another. Director Schälchlin must be blamed for the unrest. Communication was difficult for him, he acted with means of strict discipline and order . Authorities found the seminar to be more disciplined than other schools, but it was a forced, military discipline. Schälchlin did not see his position as “ primus inter pares ”, he saw the position of the director as dictatorial and his subordinate teachers merely as imparting knowledge. For fear of losing his influence in a uniform upbringing and formation of the students, he fought vehemently against the introduction of the class teacher system. Like the students, he was also suspicious and intolerant of the teachers. If he encountered resistance, he spoke of a plot that was being forged against him.

The resignation of Schälchlin's opponent, Vice Director Schmid, led to a split in the teaching staff. The contrasts were also expressed in the press, in the “Pedagogical Observer”. Schälchlin tried by all means to push through his ideas, for example in questions of curriculum design. The consequence of this was that in 1939 there was no representative from Küsnacht on the educational council's curriculum commission; the proposed seminar convention curriculum was brushed off the table.

On December 9, 1943, the Education Directorate appointed a commission to investigate the " unsatisfactory conditions in the teaching staff of the sub-seminar ". What should be clarified is not so much Schälchlin's relationship to the students as his position within the teaching staff. After ten half-day and seven full-day meetings in which teachers and former students were interviewed, the 72-page commission came to a damning verdict on the director and recommended his dismissal. In February 1945, Schälchlin himself submitted his resignation under pressure.

Two layoffs

But there was still no calm: an educational committee came to the conclusion that “ Professors Rittmeyer and Corrodi could not continue their lessons without disadvantages for the school ” - they should be forced into retirement. Vice Director Rittmeyer was the editor of the "Schweizer Journal", a disguised German propaganda magazine that was financed by Germany. Corrodi had written for German newspapers for years, including the Völkischer Beobachter . Since Rittmeyer's term of office had expired anyway, it was not renewed. It is different with Corrodi: he was elected in April 1944 for a further five-year term. Corrodi challenged his dismissal, and after two judicial defeats, the government council had to agree to a financial settlement.

Ernst Vaterlaus 1945

The authorities requested that under no circumstances should the new director be from the college. Nor should he have exposed himself to questions of curriculum design and teacher training; it should be a “superior personality with a scientific talent”. The mathematician Ernst Vaterlaus, who had previously been teacher and prorector at the daughter's school, was elected. On February 7th, Schälchlin resigned and on April 23, 1945 Vaterlaus opened the new school year in Küsnacht. But after three months his work had already come to an end: Vaterlaus was nominated as a free-spirited candidate for a seat on the Zurich government council. After a major election battle against his opponent from the Labor Party , Otto Brunner, Vaterlaus won clearly. His vice Albert Hess took over his business as school director.

Walter Zulliger 1946–1975
Nelly Heer, 1973
Walter Zulliger, 1973

The new director in 1946 was the 36-year-old math teacher Walter Zulliger from the Schiers Evangelical College . Zulliger was the first director who was neither from Zurich nor had studied in Zurich; he was from Biel and had studied in Bern and Vienna. His term of office should be 29½ years.

During Zulliger's term of office, Nelly Heer-Heusser was appointed, who in 1971 was the first woman to join the school management of a cantonal secondary school as vice director. In 1958 she was the first woman to be elected head teacher. 1960 was the first time a Catholic was chosen to be the main teacher.


The reputation of the seminar had suffered from the turbulence of the past few years; at the beginning of 1945 only 45 students registered for the entrance examination. In the years and decades that followed, especially after a numerus clausus temporarily imposed by the canton was repealed , the number of registrations rose rapidly again, and in the record year 1976/77 six parallel classes were held. New makeshift arrangements were placed on the lawn next to the old gymnasium, and the tranquil seminar had become a medium-sized middle school.

The “branch” in Oerlikon

The increasing lack of space in Küsnacht and the continuing shortage of teachers prompted the authorities in the 1950s to examine creative solutions. Hoping to be able to attract boys from the northern part of the canton to the seminar if they could go to school in the region, the canton rented several rooms in the municipal school building Halde B in Zurich Oerlikon , in which a branch in Küsnacht was opened in the spring of 1958 . This had its own head, but was subordinate to the management in Küsnacht. The seminarians came to Küsnacht twice a week to give science classes because there was no room in Oerlikon. Only boys were accepted, which meant that “Oerlikon” developed its own self-confident style. In 1974 the Oerliker branch was relocated to Dübendorf and joined the Wetzikon Cantonal School .

Max Gubler 1975-1993

In October 1975 Max Gubler became director. Gubler had attended the seminar himself, had taught Romance languages ​​in Winterthur and was a member of the Zurich Education Council. During Gubler's term of office, the new teacher training law fell in 1978, which, with the division of the senior seminar into two annual courses, resulted in a doubling of vocational training. This extended the entire training period to six years.

A fundamental change in the technical orientation of the seminar was brought about in 1979, when the new-language grammar school was introduced in spring with a class G1 . In 1973 the Federal Council decided to recognize this type D as an equivalent maturity school throughout Switzerland. Just two days later, a group of teachers submitted the proposal to the convention to be the first school in the canton to introduce this new language type. With the introduction of Type D, the seminar ceased to be a pure teacher training institution. In 1983 the name "Unterseminar Küsnacht" was changed to "Kantonsschule Küsnacht".

150th anniversary of the Küsnacht seminar

On August 28 and 29, 1982, the Küsnacht seminar celebrated its 150th anniversary. Numerous activities and events are planned, among other things, an assisted by seminarians children's party, a creperie, an English pub, represented Italian folk songs, played Goldoni scenes, Turn productions, a maze, an open singing, a relief for a school in Mali , a Shadow theater, a dyer's kitchen, a bee dressage, a planetary path, information about the in-house vineyard with tasting, a one-act play by Eugène Ionesco , a literary matinée, an exhibition about the history of the seminar and a large evening of entertainment in a marquee.

Robert Gsell 1993-2001

Max Gubler's successor was the previous Vice Rector Robert Gsell, who had taught biology and chemistry in the seminar since 1970. Robert Gsell died in 2006.

Peter Ritzmann 2001–2013

At the beginning of the 2001/02 school year, Vice-Rector Peter Ritzmann replaced Robert Gsell, who was stepping down.

Christian Grütter 2013–2019

Ritzmann's successor was Christian Grütter, previously Vice-Rector, in the summer of 2013.

Markus Hanhart 2019-2020

The previous prorector and German teacher Markus Hanhart was elected ad interim for one year.

Corinne Elsener 2020-

The English graduate, previously Vice-Rector and English teacher at the Zürcher Unterland Cantonal School in Bülach, will succeed Hanhart and Grütter at the beginning of the 2020/21 school year.

The latest time

Main entrance

In 1986 the four-year sub-seminar with connection to the 3rd grade of the secondary school was converted into a teacher training school with connection to the 2nd grade of the secondary school. The teacher training school, a grammar school with a musical focus, lasted 4½ years and was completed with a cantonal Matura . In place of the teacher training school and grammar school D, Küsnacht has had a modern-language and a musical profile since 1998 with a focus on music or artistic design. Both are recognized by Switzerland. The school duration was reduced to four years.

Küsnacht began his first immersively taught class in 2003 as part of the “bilingual Matur” pilot project of the cantonal education department : After the probationary period, math, history and music (later also natural sciences) are taught in English.

In 2004, the Education Council approved the school's request to be the first school in the canton to open a bilingual lower level of the grammar school. Together with the bilingual short grammar school, a six-year bilingual training can be completed in Küsnacht.

Well-known graduates of the seminar

Well-known graduates of the seminar were among others the writers Jakob Christoph Heer , Albin Zollinger , Elsa Muschg , Fritz Brunner and Ernst Kappeler , the composer and journalist Rolf Urs Ringger , the actor Heinrich Gretler , the national councilor and manufacturer Heinrich Grünholzer , the painter Max Gubler , the photographer Walter Bosshard , the radio director Jakob Job , the biologist Walter Höhn-Ochsner , the radio presenter Peter Walt and the politician Martin Klöti .


The Johanniterhaus

The Johanniterhaus Küsnacht was built in 1373 by Komtur Count Hugo II von Werdenberg on the western vestibule of the Reformed church on the site of today's choir wing. In 1411 the house of Commander Johannes Staler was extended by the main wing; the current wing of the Singsaal became an economic building.

The last Komtur Konrad Schmid fell on the side of Zwingli in 1531 in the battle of Kappel . After the Reformation , the property of the Johanniter Commandery became the property of the City of Zurich, but was largely used for the new parish of Küsnacht. The legal successor of the Commandery was the Amt Küsnacht, headed by the bailiff . He took up residence in one of the old convent buildings, which is why we still speak of the office building next to the church today. The building served as the seat of the Zurich officials until 1792, when the offices were repealed by law of March 29, 1833.

The building was heavily rebuilt in 1832 for its new purpose as a school building. In 1988 the building was restored and the entire building technology was renewed. In the main wing there are classrooms for the lower grammar school, specialist rooms for music and IT , the teachers 'room with teachers' workrooms and the offices for the school administration. The rooms for chemistry, physics and instrumental lessons are housed in the side wing above the singing hall. The singing hall contains an organ.


Italian villa and gym, around 1900
The «Semihalle» 2018

During Wettstein's tenure, the canton's first gymnasium was built in 1878, a brick building with six arched windows each, which replaced a makeshift gymnasium. The architect was the cantonal master builder Otto Weber, a student of Gottfried Semper . In 1911, the building was extended in order to accommodate cloakrooms.

The hall served its original function almost until the end of the 20th century, although the size and equipment no longer met the standards of physical education. Thanks to the construction of the multi-purpose hall in Heslibach by the municipality of Küsnacht in 1999, the cantonal school was now able to relocate all physical education classes there. The old gym was carefully restored in 1999 and converted into a lounge area for schoolchildren. During the day, the “semi-hall” serves as a refreshment room. Theaters, concerts, readings and school parties also take place there. A drum room was set up in the basement.

Italian villa

The Italian villa around 1900
Villa 2008

In 1894 the Cantonal Council approved a loan of 90,000 Swiss francs for the construction of a new school building. In 1895 the new Art Nouveau schoolhouse , the "Italian Villa" , was built according to plans by the cantonal building inspectorate . Music, drawing and physics were taught there. At times, a classroom was also housed in the villa, which was particularly popular because of the associated roof terrace. Today, the areas of artistic design, works, music and solo singing are housed in the villa. In 1989 the building underwent a comprehensive renovation, during which the interior of the large drawing room on the first floor was extensively restored in accordance with monument conservation criteria.

Media library

The wood and glass building, an award-winning mini - energy building opposite the new class wing, was designed by the Erlenbach architects Bétrix & Consolascio and built in 1999. The media library was the first minergy building that was commissioned by the Canton of Zurich.

The new class wing

For many decades, the school had to make do with numerous makeshift arrangements, the so-called «Baräggli», which had long given the seminar its own charm with its romanticism in the countryside. In 1984, in a referendum vote, a new building bill, against which numerous seminarians had also campaigned, failed . In the template, a community hall was also planned on the school premises.

When a replacement of the poorly thermally and soundproofed barracks became unavoidable, an architecture competition was announced in 2000 in which the “driftwood” project by Lucerne architects Martin + Monika Jauch-Stolz won first prize.

In the winter of 2006 - after they had been duly celebrated in a festival, the «Barracks finale» - the dilapidated temporary arrangements below the vineyard were torn down and construction work began on a new building. The new class wing with 16 classrooms, 10 classrooms for instrumental lessons and numerous side rooms was moved into in August 2007, the construction costs amounted to around 13 million francs. From the building description: “ Depending on the lighting, the building, shimmering in gray or greenish tones, sets a striking accent at the southern end of the school area without endangering the dominance of the Johanniterhaus and church. The architectural interplay of the new building, media library and semi-hall has created an attractive space which, thanks to the large flight of stairs at the main entrance, has become a popular meeting point in the new school complex ».

Because the music rooms are directly opposite the classrooms and no longer in the attic as it used to be, instrumental lessons move more into the center of everyday school life, which emphasizes the musical character of the school.

The “Schatulle175” festival in summer 2007 celebrated both the inauguration of the new building and the 175th anniversary of the school.

Organic house

The Biohaus 2018
The organic house from the east

In the so-called “Biohaus”, a former barn, a classroom was set up in 1848 for 4,100 Swiss francs, in which “practice school” was held. In 1874 a room for lessons in individual classes was created under the roof. In 1942 the practice school was closed. Practice school teacher Otto Bresin retired early, Ernst Bleuler went to the Küsnacht school, and the establishment was left to the community. The previous classroom on the ground floor became the biology room. In 2001 the “Biohaus” was extensively renovated.


The bridge to the area

With the chanting hall wing and the biology building to the west of it, the main building forms a rectangular courtyard in which there is a hexagonal rococo fountain from 1781. The previously covered wooden bridge over the Dorfbach was rebuilt. Today she is banned from driving. The bicycle and moped parking lot on the lake side of the Biohaus has been removed and transformed into a meeting place.


The solar system on the roof of the class wing

Solécole is a cooperative founded by students and teachers in 2007 with the aim of building a solar system on the newly opened class wing . At the end of 2009 Solécole had around 200 members of the cooperative, the majority of whom were students, teachers or alumni of the Küsnacht Cantonal School. The cooperative is run by a voluntary board of directors, consisting of teachers and students. A photovoltaic system with an annual energy yield of approx. 30,000 kWh worth CHF 265,000 was built in August 2009 . This system covers about 20% of the electricity consumption of the entire school. Since the original purpose of the cooperative has already been fulfilled, the so-called "Vision 2020" is now being sought. The aim is to continuously expand the system by 2020 so that more electricity is produced than the school consumes.


In April 2018, seven graves from the 9th to 11th centuries were found during renovation work under the singing hall. The site is documented by means of an emergency excavation by the canton archeology. The skeletons are to be transferred to the Anthropological Institute at the University of Zurich.


  • Christian Schmid: The Küsnacht Seminar, its history 1832 to 1982 , Küsnacht Seminar, 1982
  • Susi Woodtli-Löffler: History of the Küsnacht seminar , in: Yearbook from Lake Zurich 1951/52, pp. 339–356
  • Peter Ziegler: From the history of the Küsnacht seminar 1832–1957 , catalog of the exhibition 125 years of Zurich teacher training in Küsnacht
  • Küsnachter annual books 1971, 1982, 1983, 2001, 2002 with contributions by Hansjörg Beck, Otto Schaufelberger, Walter Bruppacher, Alfred Egli and Christian Schmid
  • Küsnacht am Zürichsee, Swiss Art Guide, Bern 1997
  • Binder .:  Scherr, Thomas . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 31, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1890, p. 123 f. (The first principal of the school)

Web links

Commons : Kantonsschule Küsnacht  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. New rector at Kanti Küsnacht. (PDF) (No longer available online.) In: «Küsnachter». June 27, 2013, archived from the original on January 11, 2014 ; accessed on January 11, 2014 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.impulsmittelschule.ch
  2. Zürichseezeitung, June 21, 2019
  3. Küsnachter. Retrieved August 14, 2020 .
  4. Education Directorate ZH. Retrieved January 11, 2014 .
  5. Solécole - Kanti Küsnacht solar systems. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on December 7, 2013 ; accessed on January 11, 2014 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.solecole.ch
  6. Lena Schenkel: Medieval burial ground discovered under the Küsnacht Cantonal School . In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . April 25, 2018 ( nzz.ch [accessed June 29, 2018]).
  7. ^ Daniel Fritzsche: The dead under the singing hall: A Zurich school surprises archaeologists with a creepy find . In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . June 26, 2018 ( nzz.ch [accessed June 29, 2018]).