OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma School for the Blind students, faculty and friends will dedicate the Ray Kirk Memorial Sensory Garden at 1 p.m. on Friday, April 21.
Elada Kirk, Ray Kirk’s widow, will be an honored guest at the dedication.
The public is welcome to attend the ceremony on the school campus at 3300 Gibson Street in Muskogee.
“Commissioner Kirk did wonderful things for our school for many years,” OSB Superintendent Rita Echelle said. “We are proud to honor his memory with a unique garden that is designed with different plants, wind chimes and fountains to enhance our students and visitors’ sensory experiences and enjoyment.”
Kirk, an insurance agent, thoroughbred horse and cattle rancher and popular community leader, was a champion for OSB and high quality education for any Oklahoma student who is blind or visually impaired.
He served from 2006 to 2013 as a member of the Commission for Rehabilitation Services, which oversees the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services and the Muskogee-based Oklahoma School for the Blind.
Kirk, who was the first Muskogee citizen ever appointed to the Commission, said, “Muskogee is very fortunate to have the school (for the blind) because the outstanding work the staff does to educate visually impaired students brings attention to our community from all over the state.
“DRS also does a great job for people with disabilities in Oklahoma, and I’m proud to accept an appointment that will allow me to work closely with citizens who receive services, as well as disability advocates and agency staff.”
At the time of Kirk’s death on March 14, 2013, his close friend, former State Sen. Earl Garrison from Muskogee, said, “We’ve lost a true friend with a passion for the Oklahoma School for the Blind and School for the Deaf and the whole agency. He enjoyed helping those schools so much – if there was a meeting at the school, he was there to offer input -- and he believed in their mission and what they were doing. We just need a lot more commissioners like him with that kind of passion as public servants today.”
Estimates indicate that approximately 18,600 Oklahomans are legally blind, while more than 128,000 have vision difficulties, according to 2015 U.S. Census data.
The Oklahoma School for the Blind is the statewide resource for the education of blind and visually impaired students. Residential and commuter students meet all state-mandated education requirements and receive specialized instruction in Braille, orientation and mobility, optimum use of low vision, adaptive equipment technology and tactile graphic skills not readily available at other public schools in the state. The school has maintained 100 percent graduation rate for five years. OSB provides hundreds of services each year, including free evaluations and consultations, for students attending local public schools, their families and local school staff.
For more information about the Oklahoma School for the Blind, phone 877-229-7136 toll free or visit http://osb.k12.ok.us/.