134 Ermírio de Moraes Filho was the undisputed leader. “He would preside at the meetings in a very active and serious manner, putting important subjects to discussion. He’d regularly listen to everyone, and he knew how to make decisions. He was always very kind, too. For this reason, there was just no opposition to him,” he recalls. In a world that seemed unstable, Colégio Rio Branco, by contrast, established itself as a safe harbor for families and one of the main private school options in São Paulo, with modern facilities well-suited for its objectives. That, however, did not mean the Colégio was static. It continued on its path of growth and incorporating the most important innovations in the field of education, now under Nórton Batista, who was in an exceptional position to exercise the office, as Adolfo Milani Filho, member of the Superior Council of the Fundação describes: “I first met him when he was still a beadle, which would be called a discipline supervisor today. With a lot of effort, he improved his knowledge to become an admired teacher and an enviably cultured man.” In fact, Nórton Batista had been principal since 1956, with the support of the teachers Luís Magalhães de Araújo and João Chiaratti. In his own words, it was incumbent upon them to, “firstly, make it grow and cooperate with the Fundação and the great social work it was doing at Lar Escola Rotary.” In the new building, the guidelines that the group of school officials were trying to get across had gained more ground and resources, which in the principal’s view would allow for “the realization of an old dream of structuring a school that could be pedagogically modern while keeping intact the perennial values of humanity.” At that time, while the Psychopedagogy Department was created, activities like vocational and professional guidance, experimental sciences, arts, physical education and sports were being expanded and modernized. Cultural and civic activities gained more encouragement. It was a real transformation for new times, and it involved the library, too, which received investments and a lot of attention, including the creation of a new children’s library, designed for the needs and characteristics of primary school children. The changes around the world, as well as in the turbulent political environment of those years, also reflected in the behavior of students, who would now press, on occasion, for more participation in decision-making and relaxation of certain Colégio rules. One of the examples, in the early 1970s, was their demand to be allowed to wear long hair and unconventional clothes —which was also happening in other education establishments. By allowing for the debate, which was always conducted with great serenity and balance, the Colégio averted situations of conflict. Where possible, there was negotiation and change, whereas in those cases where change was unfeasible, the reasons for such unfeasibility were explained clearly. At that time, as previously mentioned, Lar Escola Rotary was undergoing an intense transformation process, which resulted from the growing recognition it had and from the changes that were taking place in the vicinities of Granja Vianna and the municipality of Cotia, which was urbanizing at a fast pace. Its social work and vocational guidance and education activities remained in full swing, making it a reference. At the same time, after lengthy negotiations, the decision was made to donate to the State Government a parcel of the land owned by the Fundação, so that an elementary school and high school, required for serving the local population, could be built on it – and managed by São Paulo State Secretary of Education. Another positive experience of that period was a collaboration in which nuns helped to run Lar Escola Rotary, which spanned a few years and yielded positive results, and only because of the calls of the nuns’ other duties was that collaboration called to a halt. On that occasion, Niso Vianna played a decisive part yet again, donating a new area to the Fundação, with a house for the nuns to live in. One other activity that became a tradition at Lar Escola Rotary was the organization of barbecue fundraisers on behalf of the institution. Journalist and active Rotarian Sérgio de Castro recalls that the initiative, originally set in motion by José Arthur Weigand, who had become the administrator of Lar Escola Rotary, produced great results in the course of the years thanks to the massive help given by Rotarians, who contributed their work and made donations so that these events could take place. It was in that period that a more in-depth discussion was held for the first time over the idea of having a college — a possibility already provided for in the Fundação’s original By-law, from 1946. Francisco Garcia Bastos, who preceded José Ermírio de Moraes Filho in the presidency, enthusiastically advocated that proposal, and even a high-level commission was formed to prepare a plan. However, as teacher Nórton Batista points out, there was a group who opposed it. “Actually, on that occasion, the Fundação did not have sufficient funds to cover the expenses that the college would require in its early days. Nevertheless, the studies for implementing it were completed and even approved by the Board of Directors. José Ermírio de Moraes had to be remarkably skilled to break the deadlocks that the group would reach. In the end, the college idea was left behind,” he says. But it would be only a matter of time before it made a comeback, as shown further on.
Livro Comemorativo dos 70 anos da Fundação de Rotarianos de São Paulo - Uma história de ideias e ideais
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