May 23, 1898: School for Deaf & Blind graduates first students
The legislature appropriated $20,000 for the school in 1883 and solicited bids from various towns for its location. St. Augustine offered $1,000 cash and five acres donated by city pioneer Edward E. Valli. The original three wooden buildings were completed in December 1884. By 1892, there were 62 students enrolled.
Today the school is the largest of its type in the U.S. with 47 buildings and an annual budget of more than $30 million.
About 600 students are served on the 72-acre campus, and another 400 infants and toddlers through a statewide program. Instruction begins with pre-kindergarten and extends to a continuing education department for young adults.
Its most famous alumnus, Ray Charles, attended from 1937 to 1945, mastered Braille and learned to play piano, organ, clairnet, trumpet and saxophone before he was expelled as an "unsatisfactory pupil" at age 15.
Read more about the history of the Florida School for the Deaf & Blind at the school's website