AIDB fence is much moe than safety precaution
by Aziza Jackson
TALLADEGA — The fence that now adorns the perimeter of Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind’s front lawn on South Street is more than a safety precaution.

It is now a home for memories, and a public reminder of AIDB’s rich history, legacy, and generous donors who have supported the institute and their mission to serve the needs of the deaf and blind community.

Twenty-eight brick columns will tell the story of AIDB alumni, parents, students, mentors, teachers, presidents, and administrators who have been immortalized by plaques on each of the columns along the fence with a personal dedication and the Helen Keller quote, “I will not just live my life, I will invest my life.”

However, the gate started off as a simple safety precaution for AIDB students who play on the front lawn.

“My office window looks out on the front lawn of the school campus where our students play and practice soccer in the afternoons,” said AIDB President Terry Graham.

“I can’t tell you how often I watched as their enthusiasm for the game took them toward South Street as they chased after a ball. We knew that we had to address the problem before someone was hurt and the fence with the brick columns has been a welcome addition during the fall season when the children are back at play on the front lawn.”

The brick and concrete work for the fence was done by Bruce Smith; the construction of the fence was done by All Rite Fencing.

The columns of the fence were paid for with $500 donations from 25 donors to date that included AIDB staff, trustees, alumni and foundation directors; as of Tuesday three columns were still available.

Some plaques honor the lives and memories of family members and staff members while others honor supporters of AIDB and leaders in the community or alumni who have left their mark on the community.

“The project is a tribute to their commitment to the safety of our students and gives our donors an opportunity to honor individuals who have been important to the life of AIDB,” Graham said.

Graham is one of several AIDB administrators who have purchased a column. He chose to purchase a plaque in honor of his wife Pamela Graham who was the low-vision specialist for many years before she retired.

AIDB’s class of 1976 also purchased a column highlighting the events of their years at Alabama School for the Deaf.

Lynne Hanner, director of Institutional Advancement, purchased a column in honor of her family’s rich legacy at AIDB.

Her plaque is in memory of her ancestors who were connected to AIDB that includes two great uncles and a great aunt who were among the early students at ASD.

Her ancestor Chalmar Caldwell was on the school’s first baseball team and Seaborn Johnson (the school’s first student and a long-time teacher) carved a wooden toy for Hanner’s great aunt Loacha Caldwell that is on display in AIDB’s museum.

A former AIDB president, David Hardy Riddle, was also an ancestor.

Honda Manufacturing of Alabama purchased a column honoring their associates and Robert C. Weaver.

AIDB’s Board of Trustees purchased a column honoring former trustees, staff and students, and the ASD Alumni Association purchased the two entrance columns at the front gate leading to Manning Hall.

Among the many touching dedications that now rest on the columns is one given by the Gaskin family that reads, “In Honor of Brian D. Gaskin, Our son and brother - who lives each day in total silence and total darkness, but loves life more because of 8 years at the

Helen Keller School at AIDB.”

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© 2012