School children join dignitaries for a
flag-raising ceremony in May 1958. Among the
adults are Superintendent of Schools Evander
Simpson and long-time Smithfield School Principal
A.G. Glenn (on the right).
In the beginning .
Smithfield Elementary School opened its doors to
young students in early February 1957, starting out
with just one class each for fourth, fifth, and
sixth graders and two classes each for first,
second, and third graders. There was no public
kindergarten in those days.
The school's present-day staff came up with the idea
for Sunday's "Dedication and Reunion" celebration
because the school was never "dedicated" after it
opened. Actually, most new schools weren't
"dedicated" 62 years ago. They simply opened their
doors and the staff and students poured in.
Today's South Smithfield Elementary has more than
550 students in grades K-5.
The facilities have been expanded and renovated
several times over the years,
but memories from those first few years linger on.
is the present-day "media center," occupying
space that originally housed the combination
cafeteria and auditorium.
One of Sunday's speakers was Denton
Lee, who moved into one of South Smithfield's
brand-new first-grade classrooms in '57 and called
the campus "his home away from home" through Grade
6. Among his memories over the years:
• Receiving the first polio vaccine in a sugar cube
in the school's cafeteria.
• Watching on a black-and-white TV with "rabbit
ears" as astronaut John Glenn rocketed into space to
become the first man to orbit the Earth.
Playing kickball during recess with the school's
first principal and sixth-grade teacher Carlton
Daughtery. "He always pitched for both teams," Mr.
Other former South Smithfield students on Sunday's
program: Diana Flores, a present-day student at
Smithfield Middle School; Sha'kerr Howard, a current
student at Smithfield-Selma High; and Aleiyah
Sanders, a 2012 SSS graduate.
Several former South Smithfield
principals were present: Jack Temple
(1964-70 and 1976-87, pictured on the right with
Carlton Daughtery in '64), Kenneth
Bennett (2000-02), Brian Vetrano
(2004-06), and Carla Taylor Withrow
Completing the list of principals who served the
school: Carlton Daughtery (1957-1964), Justin
McNeil (1970-71), William Parrish
(1971-76), James Barbour (1987-92),
Bryan Martin (1992-97), T.B. Mitchell
(1998-2000), Rodney Peterson (2002-04).
Laura Makey, who
presided at Sunday's celebration, has served as
South Smithfield's principal since 2016. She's
pictured below (on the right) with a couple of her
associates: (on the left) Jill McKay, a pre-K
teacher who's working on her master's degree in
school administration, and Hadley Lee, the school's
community and engagement liaison. While the school
doesn't compete in interscholastic athletics, it has
a mascot nonetheless as the sign doth proclaim....