136 especially Carapicuíba and Itapevi – drew new contingents of lower-income families looking for cheaper housing. Aware of that reality, Fundação de Rotarianos de São Paulo decided to take action and invest there, at the 24-km marker on Via Raposo Tavares, where it owned a large area and there were great opportunities in sight. As Fritz Johansen very appropriately summed up, “the Board of Directors placed great emphasis on the Granja Vianna Unit at that time, but without forgetting about the Higienópolis Unit. Born big, the latter unit didn’t need much.” The first initiative in this regard was the creation of a structure for educating the deaf. Devised by a group of Rotary Club de São Paulo-Jardim América members, it was set up in Granja Vianna in June 1977. It was initially a project of that Club, originally named Curso Renato Tonacci para Deficientes Auditivos (“Renato Tonacci Course for the Deaf”), as a tribute to one of the individuals who first came up with the idea and had just passed away. The Fundação pitched in with the site and started getting involved with the project, which it fully took over three years later. “In the beginning, the structure was really small and hosted only one class of nine students. Shortly after that, nine more children were admitted for different class hours. The goal —in line with the oralistic methodology that was in vogue at that time, aimed at turning the deaf into pseudo-hearers-speakers— was to develop oralization in deaf children,” says Sabine Vergamini, director of Centro de Educação para Surdos Rio Branco. In other words, the idea, which was dropped later on, was that deaf children should be stimulated to use only the spoken word, the remnants of their sense of hearing, and a similar behavior to that of their listeners. Another target for investment at Granja Vianna Unit was sports. When entrepreneur Mario Amato – who, years later, would be the president of the Industry Federation of the State of São Paulo (Fiesp) – became principal of Lar Escola Rotary, in 1979, he proposed the construction of a large, modern gymnasium on the land owned by the institution. It was meant for the local students as well as those of Colégio Rio Branco, who would be driven there by a permanent bus line. Encouraged by José Ermírio de Moraes Filho, then president of the Board of Directors of the Fundação, who was a sports enthusiast, the project moved forward and became a reality, and its close proximity to a series of other facilities —a regulation soccer field, volleyball, basketball and five-a-side soccer courts, and a large swimming pool— made it a privileged hub for practicing sports and holding competitions. A new, bolder idea built on those high-end facilities. In October 1982, according to Nórton Batista, a meeting of the Fundação was held on the site with a view to inspecting the construction, which was already at a stage of completion. “Upon seeing a set of rooms whose purpose was uncertain around the Gymnasium Mário Frugiuele, we reminded the directors that we could set up a pre-school there, with a major benefit for local students and families, as well as the Fundação itself. Promptly understanding the potential impact of the idea, president José Ermírio supported it right away and gave us the funds needed to commence the works,” he relates. It was an arduous task, as there was a lot to be done and time was scarce, given the intent to start offering classes as early as the beginning of the next semester. The Granja Vianna Unit started its regular activities on February 17, 1983, with 100 pupils enrolled. In an interview to O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper, in August 1984, teacher Nórton Batista told that, even though the only advertisement for the opening of admissions had been a roadside banner, the number of pupils enrolled was six times larger than expected. Educator Ligeia Benícia de Almeida Stivanin, a prominent Rotarian, had moved to the area in pursuit of a better atmosphere when she learned that Rio Branco was in the market for professionals. She entered the selection process and was initially hired as a 4th grade teacher. “I was there for the implementation stage of everything. In the beginning, the building with the sports courts was all there. The rest was under construction. And José Ermírio would inspect the construction on a weekly basis,” she recalls. She confirms that the pre-school, where she would work later, was a success right off the bat: “First there were no good options in the region, and then the one that came up had the renown of Rio Branco. The demand was so big that it called for the opening of new classes in the morning and afternoon periods.” Nórton Batista explained to the newspaper that the great interest among local residents led to the decision to make a big investment, out of funds contributed by the Ermírio de Moraes family, in the construction of a new building. The building would be delivered at the end of the following year, with 34 classrooms and all laboratories, library, office and other facilities. A report announced that in addition to the pre-school level, the Colégio would “gradually expand its classes until it offered a comprehensive elementary-tohigh school education.” In the commemorative book on the Fundação’s 50th anniversary, the teacher complements that information: “Thus emerged the magnificent building that was named after Senator José Ermírio de Moraes (…).
Livro Comemorativo dos 70 anos da Fundação de Rotarianos de São Paulo - Uma história de ideias e ideais
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