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Smithfield, RI Weather

Old school memories gathering for SHS Museum

By Brittni Henderson

Artifacts from former Smithfield High School students are starting to trickle into the mailbox at 90 Pleasant View Avenue. Once word spread that a 50th anniversary museum would be erected at the high school, alumni from all places have been sending in any memorabilia that could help piece together a visual timeline of the school’s history.

Some of these pieces are a group shot of the first soccer team to play as Sentinels, hand-drawn posters promoting musicals such as Iolanthe and Pirates of Penzance, and an itchy-yet-vintage letterman sweater from a Class of 1968 alumni from Townsend, MA.

According to history teacher and Class of 1988 graduate Vincent Zibelli, the museum will be as much a testament to the growth and development of the school, as it is an event for the town to celebrate its cohesiveness and the strong bonds that are formed here over decades.

“There is so much passion for SHS,” Zibelli says. “The museum will help to bring the town together and the high school will become more of a hub for the community.”

The museum will be a combination of photos, relics, and research done by students. It will be a visual and informational presentation of the chronological history of Smithfield High. Since last year, AP U.S. history students have been working on learning everything there is to know about the birthplace of the Sentinel and how their school came to be. They have investigated the historical cemeteries nearby, researched roadway development, and uncovered other major factors that helped to bring their school to where it is today. Seniors Matthew LaForrest and Patricia Bubis are the student masterminds spearheading this project alongside Zibelli. LaForrest and Bubis showed such a passion for the project, so their leadership in the venture was unquestioned.

In such a digital age, this assignment is something good for the students, says Zibelli. Instead of the virtual work that they’re used to, students will have something to physically put on display for the town to enjoy. It will also help to show both current and former students the ways things have changed over the decades.

The museum itself will be up and running a week before the 50th Anniversary celebration weekend in September. Zibelli hopes to have everything on display somewhere meaningful inside the school or even in an office trailer near the football field so visitors could stop by at their leisure. The location is still in the works, but as more memories are sent in, the timeline of artifacts continue to grow.

“The coolest thing is that you would think that not many people would hold on to high school memories,” Zibelli says, “but people, even from out of state, are still sending things in. We’re still hoping for more, though!”

This unique endeavor will be educational, interesting, and fun for all involved, but one of the most amazing takeaways is that it will also show students that they are in the midst of leaving their footprints behind for students to learn from 50 years from now. So much has changed in just half a century’s time—imagine what the Class of 2066 will find in another 50 years!