Smithfield High School celebrates its golden – and green – anniversary

By Jane Fusco

Fifty years ago this spring, teenagers were listening to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” on their transistor radios, going to see Elvis on the big screen in Frankie and Johnny, and watching Hullabaloo and Shindig on television for the latest dance craze.

Meanwhile, teenagers in Smithfield were entering the newly built Smithfield High School for the very first time. Prior to March 1966, high school students went to nearby towns or private schools for their high school education.

As the town plans the celebration on Sept. 23-25 of its first and only high school, five decades of students, former students and faculty are embracing their memories of their time as a Sentinel.

A dedicated Facebook page entitled SHS Sentinels Alumni 50 Year Celebration 1966-2016 was also created to share information. Former students are posting on the page, connecting with classmates, arranging class reunions and activities for the celebration, and just reminiscing. Some even shared their memories with The Smithfield Times.

Jim Mello ‘68, remembers exploring and debating civil rights issues in Mr. Balasco’s history class, as the “turmoil began to boil up,” and getting passes from study hall to go to the new, state of the art library, where he also listened to a Jimi Hendrix album on headphones, when he was supposed to be studying Shakespeare. “I had never used headphones before so it was exquisite.”