Claudia Moosbruger | With Permission
After waking up at 6:30 a.m. in Bregenz, Austria, dressing in her uniform blue trousers, blue polo and sweater, and busing 15 minutes to Sacré Coeur Riedenburg, Lotta Moosbrugger arrives at her locker at 7:30, changes into slippers and joins 24 other girls in a ninth grade classroom to begin the school day.
Moosbrugger and her classmates are enrolled in a five-year College Management and Service Industries program, HLW, which offers mandatory vocational focused subjects including cooking, sewing and economics in addition to regular academic courses. In ninth grade students have the option to continue through four years of college prep, called gymnasium, or switch to HLW.
“It’s a personal decision for each girl, but I decided to switch to the HLW program because of the extra focus on vocational subjects,” Moosbrugger said. “I still take classes like math, German and English, but it is not as academic as the gymnasium.”
After graduating from the college, some students choose not to continue onto university since they already have professional qualifications in economics, business and the tourist center — unlike grammar school students.
“It is a very special type of education,” Ursula Röthlin-Mair, a German and English teacher at both the grammar school and college said. “We are trying to give our students the broadest possible education with both academic and vocational subjects, which is quite demanding.”
Moosbrugger, who participated in a one-way exchange in San Francisco and attended Convent classes at both the middle and high school, said the teaching style is stricter in Austria than it is here.
“In our school in Austria, we sit at the table on a chair and the teacher stands in front at the blackboard,” Moosbrugger said. “We also learn with tablets and other up-to-date technologies.”
Sacré Coeur Riedenburg recently opened its school to students of all religious backgrounds. Similar to Convent & Stuart Hall, the students still take part in all the Catholic festivals and holidays, and abide by the Goals and Criteria that govern United States Sacred Heart schools.
“The five Goals are posted in various parts of the school and all the students are very mindful of the Goals,” Ann Miller (’62) who as been to the school approximately 15 times to give leadership trainings said. “Both schools are giving the education of a Child of the Sacred Heart — not just the intellect, but also the spirituality and how people are supposed to behave.”
Class trips and activities include an eighth grade economics week in which students have internships at companies and enterprises to gain experience in a particular fields, and exchanges with other Sacred Heart schools. Year 13 college and year 12 grammar school students travel to Rome, a trip that includes an audience with the pope. Year 13 college also has an obligatory 12-week internship abroad.
“Before the college girls leave for their internships, I talk to them about different aspects of leadership — what they are worried about and the new things they will face being away from home,” Miller said. “We also talk about customer service, leadership and diversity.”
Sacré Coeur Riedenburg boards 50 of its 700 students from Monday until Friday evening, with students going home over the weekends.
“Some of the students who live at the school are international students from different parts of the world,” Moosbrugger said. “Most of the girls from Austria live too far away to commute everyday.”
Although currently an all-girls school, Sacré Coeur Riedenburg plans to make the grammar school and college coed next year, similar to Sacred Heart School in Atherton. The volksschule has been a coed school for several years.
“Since I have been back from San Francisco, I have realized what a great time I had,” Moosbrugger said. “Just like my school in Austria, your school felt like a family to me. Now one of my classmates also wants to come visit your school in San Francisco.”