The Scolopi Fathers of La Víbora / Fernando Dámaso

In the half block between Flores Street and Correa and Encarnacion, in the La Víbora neighborhood, a modern and magnificent building was erected at the end of the forties for the Pious Schools. They also had schools in Havana at Manrique and San Rafael, in Guanabacoa, Pinar del Rio and Camaguey, all for boys. There was also one for female students in El Cerro.

I had the good luck to be among those who inaugurated the new facilities in La Víbora. I remember the majestic main entrance, the huge hall, the granite floor with the inlaid compass, and the tubular glass urns with the flags of Cuba and the school. Also, behind them, a long green granite bench, and on the floor there was a map of Cuba and the Caribbean, also in granite, and a large concrete patio surrounded by the galleries in a U-shape.

In my memory I can still see the spacious and airy classrooms, the library, dining room, chapel, the medical cabinet, and even the bathrooms on each floor. There were also vending machines for Coca Cola and candy. Nor have I forgotten the clean smell, the books, the polished wood and the colored chalk. These are all important memories of a personal nature.

The most valuable, however, was having had teachers such as Carlos Ruibó, Enrique Puente, Jorge Arango, José E. Caramés and the priests Angel Oliveras and Juan Capdevila, true teachers, who instilled in us the Pieta and Letters, the famous motto of San José de Calasanz, founder of the Piarist Order.

Today, many years later, I remember dear Father Oliveras, always restless, spending hours of Theology — by mutual agreement and with the doors closed — imparting knowledge about sex, answering our questions and clarifying our adolescent doubts. Also the time devoted to discussing the problems of the country and different issues in our society.

With the Scolopi Fathers we practiced thinking with their own heads, and I learned respect for the opinions of others and the value of tolerance, as well as the entire contents of the materials of different years. Unfortunately it has been many years since the Pious Schools have existed in my country, and its facilities are quite dilapidated, although they still exist in the rest of the world. I hope for their return, at least so that my grandchildren or the children of my grandchildren, can reassume this generational educational chain, which never should have been broken.

October 19, 2010