Mobile County Public Schools on Friday renamed the Southwest Regional School for the Deaf & Blind as the H.L. “Sonny” Callahan School for the Deaf & Blind.
As a state legislator in the 1970s, Callahan petitioned the state to provide funding for the school at the request of parents, as deaf and blind students in southwest Alabama previously had to relocate to Talladega. The school, which provides educational and support services to children with hearing or vision loss in Mobile, Washington, Clarke and Escambia counties, was opened in 1979 and is now located on Burma Road.
“The school stands as your legacy,” Carol Blades, one of the school’s founding parents, told Callahan. “And you are truly our champion.”
Callahan went on to serve in Congress as a U.S. Representative before retiring in 2003.
“We received overwhelming support to name the Regional School for H.L. ‘Sonny’ Callahan,” said Mobile County School Commissioner Don Stringfellow. “It was the appropriate and the honorable thing to do, and we’re very happy that we had this day.”
Callahan, now 86, was in attendance at Friday’s renaming ceremony, along with members of his family, MCPSS Superintendent Chresal Threadgill, Stringfellow and fellow board member Robert Battles, school principal Mandy Sullivan, several members of the school’s founding families, and Jo Bonner, a former Callahan aide who won his congressional seat upon Callahan’s retirement in 2003 and now serves as Chief of Staff for Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.
A proclamation from the Alabama Legislature, and signed by Ivey, was read in support of the renaming.
“The renaming of the school to the H.L. “Sonny” Callahan School for the Deaf & Blind is really, I think, one of the crowning achievements of his illustrious career,” Bonner said.