CAMAGÜEY.- Because of multiple reasons, September 1st 1976 is an unforgettable date in the life of Elvira Siso Viladón, the first principal of the vocational school Máximo Gómez Báez. Although she had experience as the provincial deputy director of Education, to her that responsibility was the decisive test. Three days before the school´s opening by Fidel, she received a call from Raúl Curbelo Morales, first secretary of the Party at the time, he told her: “We need that you take up the headship of the Vocational”.

Elvira feels as it was yesterday; although, the calendar´s pages don´t stop and 40 years have passed. “It was shocking because of many things. I knew the Vocational School due to voluntary works, but from that moment, you would imagine: it´s a really big school, with many complexities and I had to learn all that data, since Fidel bombards people with questions”.

She described in detail the journey and everything expressed by Fidel, who considered the gardens beautiful and very big. The amphitheater called his attention because of its structure and the areas prepared for the artist. For over an hour, he walked through the classrooms, dorms, and air corridors; in the kitchen, someone explained to him the objective of the kitchen-dining hall, and he said to those who accompanied him: “This, we will have to do it in other places. We educate specialists, technicians and researchers of high level, and some of them do not know how to behave properly in the table”.

In the bakery, he tasted various sweets; he saw the culture´s premises with instruments that were not in other places; he sat down in the side of the swimming pool. In the gym, he couldn´t resist the temptation to throw some balls to the basket. Fortunately, Elvira´s husband, known as Uncle Flores, who was a basketball coach in Camagüey and president of the School Council, had warned her: “I will put a basketball in the trunk because every time that Fidel goes to a gym o sport area, he throws some basketballs”.

“I think he scored every ball but one. The school had the best coaches in all sports; a lot of medals were won”.

She said that being in front of the Historic Leader of the Revolution was impressive because of his extraordinary memory, his intelligence, his charisma, his capacity to be well-informed and to inform, and his sensitivity towards the others. “He always has a message to give. Life demonstrate that he prognosticates incidents with an extraordinary vision”.

The interviewee points out that he does not let any detail behind, he even asked the amount of water litters of the tank. He inquire about the architect Reinaldo Togores and he congratulated. Finally, Fidel was acclaimed by the crowd that was waiting the beginning of the ceremony at 5:00 p.m.

She remembers that in the opening speech, he urged students to study, to take care of team and he said how the students should be, many of them are now excellent professionals and they meet periodically in encounters called Absent Vocational.

Elvira was the principal of the Vocational for four academic years. Then, among other responsibilities, she was secretary of the Provincial Assembly of People's Power. Today she enjoys a well-deserved retirement, accompanied by her family in La Zambrana neighborhood.

When the academic year 2016-2017 finishes, the Vocational will have had more than 17 100 students, hundreds of professors, and millions of challenges and hopes. To its 40th anniversary, its first children came and unveiled a commemorative plaque that reminds that this school with forty years has formed professionals of all science branches in the Island and the rest of the world. From the emblematic Flags´ Square, you can see the impact of the two million pesos destined to its repair: the museum was restored, white aluminum and crystal doors and windows were put, its streets were repaired, a new center for students with high performance in Natural and Exact Sciences and History and Spanish-Literature was created, the school is almost completely painted, it´s happy as if it was new. Moreover, it is still there, terrific regarding its years, already impressing the future, proud and faithful to the legacy of whom still walks in it: Fidel.

Translated by Linet Acuña Quilez