Blind, State School for.The state school for the blind, or blind asylum, as it is frequently called, had its origin in an act approved by Gov. Carney on Feb. 27, 1864. By this act Henry McBride of Johnson county, Fielding Johnson and Byron Judd of Wyandotte county, were appointed commissioners to select a location for the institution at some point in Wyandotte county. They were also authorized to accept as a donation a tract of land of not less than 10 acres for a site. The city of Wyandotte (now Kansas City, Kan.) agreed to donate 9.6 acres in what was then known as Oakland park. Although this was slightly less than the amount of land specified in the act, the site was approved, and in 1866 a small appropriation was made by the legislature to pay the expenses of the commissioners. In 1867 the legislature appropriated $10,000 for the erection of buildings by a commission to be appointed by the governor. The first buildings were completed on Oct. 1, 1867, and on the 7th the school opened with nine pupils in attendance.
STATE SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND.
The first trustees were F. B. Baker, Frederick Speck and William Larimer. They made a report on Dec. 10, 1867, showing the cost of the buildings, etc., and the legislature of 1868 appropriated a little over $11,600 for additional buildings and maintenance. The first annual report of the board bears the date of Nov. 30, 1868, when the first fiscal year of the institution was closed.
As in all schools for the education of the blind, the fundamental idea has been to make the pupils self-supporting and, as far as their infirmity will permit, useful citizens. In the selection of teachers the only consideration with the board of control is fitness for the position. Consequently the staff of instructors is composed of persons whose capabilities are equal to those found in the best blind schools in the country. The pupils are given the best of care and medical attention, and since the school was opened about 700 pupils have been enrolled. The regular school course is divided into eight grades and a four-years' high school course, the whole corresponding to the course of study in the public schools of the state. Text-books in raised type, so they may be read by touch, are furnished by the United States government, and there is a well selected library to which new books are added annually. On the backs of these books the titles are printed in what is known as "New York point," so that the pupils may be able to find any book without assistance.
In addition to the regular literary course, the boys are taught piano tuning, broom making, hammock weaving, etc., and the girls are taught hand and machine sewing, crocheting, basket work, darning and patchingall occupations which fit them to become self-sustaining to a large degree. Music is also taught, and all the pupils belong to either the junior or senior chorus. One of the interesting features of the school is the "fire drill," and it is surprising to see how quickly these sightless children can vacate a building, without confusion, when the gong is sounded.
In 1910 the property of the school was valued at $156,000 and there were then 94 pupils in attendance. The superintendents of the school since its organization have been as follows: W. H. Sawyer, 1867-69; W. W. Updegraff, 1869-71; John D. Parker, 1871-74; George H. Miller, 1874-89; Allen Buckner, 1889-91; Lapier Williams, 1891-93; W. G. Todd, 1893-95; George H. Miller, 1895-97; W. H. Toothaker, 1897-99; Lapier Williams, 1899-1906; W. B. Hall, 1906.Pages 192-193 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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