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Oklahoma School for the Blind dedicates new gym and memorial bench

Monday, November 22, 2021

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Oklahoma School for the Blind students and staff invite the public to attend the dedication of their new gymnasium and area of refuge at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, November 16.

OSB is located at 3300 Gibson Street in Muskogee.

The new facility was designed by Mass Architects of Oklahoma City.

In addition to a regulation-size basketball court, the new gym, which was constructed by Williams Contracting of Muskogee, contains locker rooms, a classroom, fitness center, coach’s office, concession stand and rest rooms.

The building includes an area of refuge to protect students and staff in case of severe weather, which doubles as a wrestling practice room.

OSB is division of Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.

DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt is slated to speak during the dedication.

“I want to give credit to the superintendents who came before me, DRS leadership and OSB’s executive team, especially Construction and Maintenance Administrator Brian Culver who oversaw the project and Business Manager Dennis Read who took on extra financial responsibilities,” OSB Superintendent Rita Echelle said.

“Their financial stewardship enabled us to plan and complete a successful project that meets our needs in a cost effective way,” Echelle said. “I am also so thankful that our students and staff have a safe place to go in severe weather, especially when you consider our history and the tremendous loss of three students in the April 1945 tornado.”

Echelle also acknowledged Coaches Rob Culie and Tera Webb for their invaluable recommendations.

OSB will also dedicate a memorial bench in honor of former OSB Superintendent Larry Hawkins who died after a short illness in February 2019.

Hawkins served as OSB superintendent for nearly three years from 2010 through 2011 and again in 2016.

Former DRS Executive Director Noel Tyler will speak during the bench dedication about Hawkins and his contributions to OSB and the positive impact that continues today.

Refreshments will be served following the ceremonies.

For more information, phone 405-781-8200 or

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. OSB also provides thousands of hours of free services each year for students attending local public schools, their families and local school staff.


Oklahoma School for the Blind will dedicate their new gymnasium and a memorial bench for former Superintendent Larry Hawkins on November 16.

For more information

Jody Harlan, DRS Communications Director

Cell: 405-203-1318 

Last Modified on Jun 08, 2022