128 towards endowing the venue with an optimal structure was the implementation of workshops, employee homes, spaces for raising small animals and growing vegetable and fruit trees, and a sports court. Improvements were constant. Still in late 1947, the cornerstone was laid for a shelter for minors, which would allow the more needy children to live in Lar Escola Rotary for as long as they went to school there. Other construction and remodeling works would follow, often using donations from Rotarians. Shortly after that, following negotiations with the state government, and with support from Rotary International, a very positive partnership was struck which allowed the social and educational reach of that initiative to be expanded: the result was the implementation of a rural school group at the location. In the meanwhile, Colégio Rio Branco followed on its path of growth and improvement, firmly establishing itself as one of the references in private education in the country. Teacher Carlos Cattony took the post of principal after Roldão Lopes de Barros left for health-related reasons, and was replaced by teacher João Baptista Damasco Penna one year later. The path and the principles that had been followed since the beginning were maintained, with support from the Fundação for investments in expansion and modernization. The threatened crisis that would have resulted from the former administration’s decision to close down the Colégio did not gain traction. As recorded in the book “Fundação de Rotarianos de São Paulo: 1947-1960”, “two years later, Rio Branco had defeated the crisis with which it had been struggling. It had been reinstated to the situation it enjoyed for several years.” Member of the Superior Council of Fundação, Marcos Paulo de Almeida Salles, who entered Rio Branco in 1951 after taking an admission exam and went to school there until 1958, says that the institution had great prestige and, therefore, held a strong appeal among parents and potential students. Its points of difference included, according to him, a great structure, high-profile teachers, and the fact that it was a secular school. “Two of my cousins went to school there, and I really wanted to go, too. The Colégio was very well-run, and the teachers were very well-selected. It had a very good primary school program led by teacher Soledad Santos,” he recalls. He also stresses the Colégio’s sports facilities: “At the back, there was a semi-Olympic swimming pool, and on the spot where the SESI (the acronym in Portuguese for Industry Social Service) Theater sits today was an area for sporting practices conducted by teacher João Chiaratti.” The facilities on Rua Dr. Vila Nova, however, were the cause for major concerns in that decade. The properties used by the Colégio were rented, and in the mid-1950s they were sold, one for the State Government and the other for SESI. After a fruitless search for properties located in the same region that could house Rio Branco’s activities, the decision was made to buy a piece of land and build up the institution’s own facilities with characteristics well-suited for its school requirements. A specially-formed commission was charged with the task and soon found an area on Avenida Higienópolis that was owned by João Baptista Leme do Prado. Covering 4,700 sq. m and featuring an ideal topography for the building, the land was purchased. Now the challenge was to erect the building. Leandro Dupré’s engineering firm took on the studies and construction plans and submitted them to City Hall. Difficulties of a bureaucratic nature then arose: the permitting process was slow and kept going back and forth, with a series of requirements and restrictions being imposed. Once that stage was over, construction began. The groundbreaking occurred in 1953, when the soil studies had already been completed, and the foundations laid. But the next problem would soon follow: raising funds for such a large construction project. It would have a builtup area of 14,000 sq. m and five stories, plus the ground floor and an underground level. The facilities would comprise a large number of classrooms, a library with capacity for 80,000 volumes, a special section for clippings and more study and reading rooms, several laboratories, a Department of Experimental Sciences, a 500-seat theater, sports courts, locker-rooms, the recreation, cafeteria and administrative areas and a lot more. For the activities of the Fundação and the Rotary Clubs, the two top floors had been reserved, where there would be party hall capable of receiving 1,000 people, at that time. Seemingly insurmountable at first, the challenges were gradually overcome. Colégio Rio Branco and Fundação de Rotarianos de São Paulo were advancing. The new building would turn the next page in this story.
Livro Comemorativo dos 70 anos da Fundação de Rotarianos de São Paulo - Uma história de ideias e ideais
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