SULPHUR, Okla. – The Oklahoma School for the Deaf will break ground Wednesday, January 22, on land reserved for a new Aquatic Activity Center and Safe Room in Sulphur.
The 10,000 square foot facility will include the pool, lobby, two locker rooms, concessions and restrooms.
The locker rooms will double as an area of refuge to protect OSD students and staff in severe weather.
“This is the first new building at OSD in a long time, thanks to the generous support of the Oklahoma Legislature under the leadership of House of Representatives Speaker Charles McCall,” said Melinda Fruendt, Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services executive director.
OSD is a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services
Speaker McCall from Atoka said, “I’m very proud that we were able to secure additional funding in 2019 to build new projects like the Aquatic Activity Center and Safe Room at Oklahoma School for the Deaf.
“I’m very impressed with the leadership at OSD and DRS, and enjoy working with them,” Speaker McCall said. “I will support and help OSD students so they can continue to pursue their educational goals and career dreams in an environment of educational excellence. The project’s funding came from surplus revenues and no debt was necessary for these improvements.”
“Nearly a decade ago, the OSD pool was forced to close because of mechanical failures in the filtration system,” OSD Superintendent Chris Dvorak said. “Prior to that, the pool had served as an area for physical education, recreation and swimming lessons for OSD students, as well as a space for water aerobics and swimming lessons open to the Murray County community.
“Former OSD Superintendent Larry Hawkins was committed to the reclamation and reopening of the OSD pool to benefit educational and recreational programming for the students of OSD,” Dvorak said. “To Larry, bringing the OSD pool back to life would be a revival of the shared experience that our local community and Deaf community enjoyed together for many generations.
“Superintendent Hawkins worked unceasingly with state legislators and DRS leadership to bring the Aquatic Activity Center to fruition before his passing in February, 2019.”
The public is invited to join dignitaries, students, families, employees and the Deaf and local communities for a groundbreaking ceremony beginning at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, January 22, at OSD’s Ken Brown Gymnasium located at 1100 E. Oklahoma Avenue in Sulphur.
Speakers who will address the guests at the ceremony include Speaker McCall, Senator Frank Simpson, DRS Executive Director Fruendt, Superintendent Dvorak and Heath Tate, principal architect for the project, from MA+ Architecture in Oklahoma City and Norman. In addition, two OSD students, juniors Isaiah Holt and April Pennel, will share their thoughts about the impact of the new Aquatic Activity Center on student life and safety.
For more information, phone 580-622-4909 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oklahoma School for the Deaf is a deaf education immersion school that offers an academic environment with high standards for Deaf and hard-of-hearing students without barriers to communication. In 2019, 137 students attending OSD communicated using American Sign Language and English. Many students use cochlear implants or hearing aids. For these students, spoken English is also a development focus. As the Statewide Resource Center on Deafness, OSD provided 27,396 direct outreach services to students who attend other public schools, their families and educators.