ORT de Gunzburg Secondary School # 550 "Shorashim", St Petersburg

The St Petersburg City Committee of Education and the Ministry of Education of the State of Israel jointly opened an international school in St. Petersburg in 1993. With support from ORT St. Petersburg, the school received the status of a school for in-depth study of information technology and foreign languages in 1999. 

ORT de Gunzburg Secondary School # 550 "Shorashim" caters for students from 1st through to 11th grade. It has two departments – one department for “general education with in-depth study of foreign languages” and one for “general education with in-depth study of English and Hebrew” – in which 40% and 60% of students are taught respectively.

Name of SchoolORT de Gunzburg Secondary School # 550 "Shorashim"
Location St Petersburg/Russia
Age rangeElementary, Junior High, High School

Alongside the general education provided in accordance with the Russian Federation National Curriculum and Regional Curriculum of St Petersburg for secondary schools specializing in advanced study of foreign languages, the school offers two advanced study tracks supported by ORT: Jewish education and technology education.


Students study Hebrew for 3 hours per week, following the Heftsiba framework.

History of the Jewish People

Students in the 6th to 11th grade take this course for 2 hours per week. The course is divided into 6 thematic sections:

  1. the Biblical period
  2. the Middle Ages
  3. the modern period
  4. the history of the Jews in Russia
  5. the history of the Holocaust
  6. the history of Zionism and the State of Israel

Traditions of the Jewish People

Students in the 1st through to 11th grades take this course for 1 hour per week. The course covers laws and customs of Jewish life, the holiday cycle, prayer, classic religious texts and Jewish philosophy.

Informal Jewish Activities 

  • A number of Jewish topics are covered through mainstream subject teaching, for example Jewish literature, Israeli geography, Jewish art and Jewish music.
  • Students participate in a variety of projects integrating Jewish studies and ICT. One such project was an exhibition about the Jewish heroes of the anti-fascist resistance during World War II.
  • Family Shabbatonim and weekend workshops are organized three times a year, which provide an informal atmosphere for families to learn about Jewish traditions and history.
  • Every year students in the 10th grade go on a trip to Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania as part of the Masa Shorashim program.


Technology is taught in the 1st to 7th grades for 2 hours per week. Students learn to solve practical problems with the most up-to-date methods, through mastering the basics of Internet technology, digital graphic design, video and sound technology, and programming – in order to design a variety of robots. Much of the work is project-based, to be completed in small groups.

ICT and Computer Science

This course is taught to students in the 8th to 11th grades. Students learn about algorithmic thinking, programming in Pascal and applying their knowledge to solve practical problems.

Elective Courses

A number of optional courses are offered to students.

  • Technology Club offers in-depth study of Internet technologies in the 7th and 8th grade. Students learn how to write simple programs to create their own websites, making use of flash animation and graphics.
  • Computer Design is offered in the 5th and 6th grade for students who are enthusiastic about drawing, design and model-making. They work on creative design group projects – for example using computer-aided design software to turn sophisticated drawings into models.
  • Lego Robotics is offered to students in the 5th to 10th grades, who create and program robotic Lego models to be entered into city, national and international Olympiads.
  • A course on robotics design through the use of an Arduino controller is offered.
  • Fundamentals of 3D-modeling is offered to students in the 10th and 11th grade. In 2011-12, students began to design a 3D model of the school.
  • Digital Image Processing is offered to students in the 10th and 11th grade who are interested in digital photography.
  • In the 2015/2016 academic year the School TV studio began its regular work. Its news-blocks, devoted to various aspects of School’s life, are published once every two weeks. A Digital TV Video Studio project has been implemented to upgrade the facilities and support the teaching and production process.

Programming and Robotics

The school focuses on stretching children with exceptional mathematical ability so that they do not need to move to mathematics-oriented secondary schools and gymnasiums. Therefore, students in the 10th and 11th grades are offered a special ICT course, which teaches them the programming language “C”. Students write programs that can be used in real life, such as programs for robots or model cars.


As part of ORT's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) project in the FSU, the number of hours of STEM study has increased significantly in the school in recent years. Teachers receive regular methodological training and support for the preparation of modern teaching materials for primary and secondary school.

Facilities in the School

The school has available a wide variety of technological facilities to enhance teaching and learni

  • Science computer lab – students use this virtual science lab for conducting experiments and working on projects, for example “The Fundamentals of Molecular Literacy” or “Living Geometry”.
  • Music computer lab – through the use of electronic musical instruments, students can learn about musical notation and the basics of composition.
  • Design computer lab – this lab is equipped with computer-aided design systems.
  • Language computer lab “SANAKO” – to help develop their foreign language speaking skills, students can record and listen to their speaking, and receive instant feedback from their teacher.
  • Digital information environment – the school has a database of digital educational resources which can be accessed from any PC connected to the school’s local area network.

Contributions to the National Education System

  • The school was designated as a pilot site during 2010-13 to examine the development of a school model with an individualised learning system, based on using an information and communication school portal.
  • In 2011, an ORT project team led by the school’s deputy principal won a national tender for designing a large new school to serve the population of the Skolkovo Innovation Center. The basis for the design followed the individualized model of learning being piloted in St. Petersburg.
  • In 2012, the school was recognized as one of 10 finalists (out of approximately 800 schools in St Petersburg) in a city-wide contest for educational institutions implementing innovative educational programs into their teaching and learning processes.
  • In 2013, the school won a tender to receive funding from and take a leading role in Russia’s National Priority Educational Project, the goal of which is to accelerate the modernisation of Russia’s education system.  The project involves detecting and supporting high-quality leaders, together with introducing new school management tools and approaches.