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New sports teams, courses on tap at Smith Vocational High School this fall

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School recently received uniforms for its new football program. Front row, from left are sophomore Asher Chicoine (72), freshman Chase Chicoine (54) and sophomore Josh Lapointe (45). Back row, from left, juniors Cullen Pike (81), Cordell Saalfrank (95) and Thomas Powers (14). Top, sophomore Manny Madera (32). <br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School recently received uniforms for its new football program. Front row, from left are sophomore Asher Chicoine (72), freshman Chase Chicoine (54) and sophomore Josh Lapointe (45). Back row, from left, juniors Cullen Pike (81), Cordell Saalfrank (95) and Thomas Powers (14). Top, sophomore Manny Madera (32).
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School recently received uniforms for its new football program. From left are juniors Cullen Pike (81), Cordell Saalfrank (95) and Thomas Powers (14), sophomores Josh Lapointe (45) and Asher Chicoine (72) and freshman Chase Chicoine (54). Sophomore Manny Madera (32) sits atop the goal post. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School recently received uniforms for its new football program. From left are juniors Cullen Pike (81), Cordell Saalfrank (95) and Thomas Powers (14), sophomores Josh Lapointe (45) and Asher Chicoine (72) and freshman Chase Chicoine (54). Sophomore Manny Madera (32) sits atop the goal post.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School recently received uniforms for its new football program. From left are freshman Chase Chicoine (54), junior Cordell Saalfrank (95) (partly obscured), sophomores Asher Chicoine (72) and Josh Lapointe (45), juniors Cullen Pike (81) and Thomas Powers (14) and sophomore Manny Madera (32). <br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School recently received uniforms for its new football program. From left are freshman Chase Chicoine (54), junior Cordell Saalfrank (95) (partly obscured), sophomores Asher Chicoine (72) and Josh Lapointe (45), juniors Cullen Pike (81) and Thomas Powers (14) and sophomore Manny Madera (32).
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School junior Cullen Pike (81) sports a uniform for the school's new football program.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School junior Cullen Pike (81) sports a uniform for the school's new football program.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School junior Thomas Powers (14), left, and sophomore Manny Madera (32) sport uniforms for the school's new football program. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School junior Thomas Powers (14), left, and sophomore Manny Madera (32) sport uniforms for the school's new football program.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School junior Cordell Saalfrank (95), left, and sophomore Josh Lapointe (45) sport uniforms for the school's new football program.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School junior Cordell Saalfrank (95), left, and sophomore Josh Lapointe (45) sport uniforms for the school's new football program.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School freshman Chase Chicoine (54) sophomore Asher Chicoine (72) sport uniforms for the school's new football program. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School freshman Chase Chicoine (54) sophomore Asher Chicoine (72) sport uniforms for the school's new football program.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School recently received uniforms for its new football program. From left are juniors Cordell Saalfrank (95), Cullen Pike (81) and Thomas Powers (14), sophomores Manny Madera (32), Josh Lapointe (45) and Asher Chicoine (72) and freshman Chase Chicoine. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School recently received uniforms for its new football program. From left are juniors Cordell Saalfrank (95), Cullen Pike (81) and Thomas Powers (14), sophomores Manny Madera (32), Josh Lapointe (45) and Asher Chicoine (72) and freshman Chase Chicoine.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School carpentry instructor Scott Miller will be teaching fine furniture making this year.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School carpentry instructor Scott Miller will be teaching fine furniture making this year.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School will offer a fine furniture making course this year with carpentry instructor Scott Miller.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School will offer a fine furniture making course this year with carpentry instructor Scott Miller.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School carpentry instructor Scott Miller, shown here with children Hayden, 4, and Harley, 6, will be teaching fine furniture making this year.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School carpentry instructor Scott Miller, shown here with children Hayden, 4, and Harley, 6, will be teaching fine furniture making this year.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School carpentry instructor Scott Miller will be teaching fine furniture making this year.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School carpentry instructor Scott Miller will be teaching fine furniture making this year.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lilly Lombard, far right, who is the executive director of Grow Food Northampton, leads a protest of the use of Roundup herbicide Tuesday at the corner of Spring and Meadow Streets in Florence.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Lilly Lombard, far right, who is the executive director of Grow Food Northampton, leads a protest of the use of Roundup herbicide Tuesday at the corner of Spring and Meadow Streets in Florence.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School recently received uniforms for its new football program. Front row, from left are sophomore Asher Chicoine (72), freshman Chase Chicoine (54) and sophomore Josh Lapointe (45). Back row, from left, juniors Cullen Pike (81), Cordell Saalfrank (95) and Thomas Powers (14). Top, sophomore Manny Madera (32). <br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School recently received uniforms for its new football program. From left are juniors Cullen Pike (81), Cordell Saalfrank (95) and Thomas Powers (14), sophomores Josh Lapointe (45) and Asher Chicoine (72) and freshman Chase Chicoine (54). Sophomore Manny Madera (32) sits atop the goal post. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School recently received uniforms for its new football program. From left are freshman Chase Chicoine (54), junior Cordell Saalfrank (95) (partly obscured), sophomores Asher Chicoine (72) and Josh Lapointe (45), juniors Cullen Pike (81) and Thomas Powers (14) and sophomore Manny Madera (32). <br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School junior Cullen Pike (81) sports a uniform for the school's new football program.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School junior Thomas Powers (14), left, and sophomore Manny Madera (32) sport uniforms for the school's new football program. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School junior Cordell Saalfrank (95), left, and sophomore Josh Lapointe (45) sport uniforms for the school's new football program.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School freshman Chase Chicoine (54) sophomore Asher Chicoine (72) sport uniforms for the school's new football program. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School recently received uniforms for its new football program. From left are juniors Cordell Saalfrank (95), Cullen Pike (81) and Thomas Powers (14), sophomores Manny Madera (32), Josh Lapointe (45) and Asher Chicoine (72) and freshman Chase Chicoine. <br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School carpentry instructor Scott Miller will be teaching fine furniture making this year.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School will offer a fine furniture making course this year with carpentry instructor Scott Miller.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School carpentry instructor Scott Miller, shown here with children Hayden, 4, and Harley, 6, will be teaching fine furniture making this year.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School carpentry instructor Scott Miller will be teaching fine furniture making this year.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Lilly Lombard, far right, who is the executive director of Grow Food Northampton, leads a protest of the use of Roundup herbicide Tuesday at the corner of Spring and Meadow Streets in Florence.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

The new 45-member Vikings team, which will be coached by vocational school Superintendent Jeffrey R. Peterson, is one of two sports programs Smith Voke is launching this fall. The other is a girls volleyball team that has already drawn 30 players. Plumbing teacher Jason Wallace will coach the Lady Vikings.

Peterson, who is in his second year at the helm of Smith Voke, hopes the new athletics programs and a furniture-making shop that opens in September will lead to a continued rise in enrollments at the vocational school.

The size of the entering ninth grade has risen nearly 14 percent, from 101 in 2012 to 115 this year, with registrations still coming in, he said. Overall, Smith Voke’s enrollment for the coming school year has grown to 430 students from 412 last year, an increase of 4.5 percent.

“My research indicates it’s the new programs,” said Peterson, who has made recruitment one of his priorities. “It’s been a goal of mine to add more offerings for kids. I’m hoping enrollments will inch up even more when school starts.”

The high school also begins the year with a new interim principal. John Kelly, a nine-year veteran teacher and administrator at Smith Voke, was hired in August to replace Tracy Lyon after her contract was not renewed. A search for a permanent principal will begin next spring.

The vocational school has also hired a new math teacher, Elizabeth Lyon .

The new football team will give Smith Voke students options that disappeared last year after Northampton High School ended its cooperative football program with the vocational school.

The Blue Devils wanted to move down from the elite AA Conference to the Suburban League — a realignment that would not have been possible if Smith Voke’s enrollments were included in the calculations, according to NHS athletic director Jim Miller.

The Vikings, whose first home game is set for Sept. 13 against Holyoke’s Dean Tech Golden Hawks, will play in the Tri-County League.

“Our parents are very excited,” Peterson said. “Athletics is really appealing for a lot of kids and we don’t charge an athletics fee here.”

Chesterfield resident Ann Saalfrank, head of the vocational school’s new Booster Club, said the group has raised more than $15,000 so far to support the school’s sports programs.

“Everyone I talk to said the Smith School needed a football team,” said Saalfrank, a member of the class of 1985.

Her son, Cordell, a junior, said he’s eager to help launch the new team.

“To be able to play, to have a good team and go to the state championships, that’s what we’ll be working for,” Cordell said.

Fellow Viking Cullen Pike, who is also starting 11th grade, said this will be the first year he’s been able to play high school football.

“It’s awesome,” said Pike, who lives in Worthington. “I’ve always wanted to play but I never had the chance.”

On the career education side, Smith Voke’s new furniture-making shop will offer students a chance to explore fine craftsmanship, said Scott Miller, who will be teaching those classes beginning next month.

Miller, a certified carpenter and art teacher who is in his second year at the high school, said students will create cabinets and other furniture pieces using ash and catalpa wood.

“I will give them a project and show them how to customize it,” Miller said as he showed off a cabinet with curved edges and a laminated top produced by last year’s carpentry students.

Smith Voke also will be rolling out a new student information system this fall and participating in an accreditation review by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The changeover to the new computer system means class schedules will not be available until school starts Sept. 3.

School leaders say they also hope to move forward on state-approved plans for a new agriculture building — a project they say has stalled in recent years due to a lack of city capital funding.

In the coming months, Northampton Mayor David J. Narkewicz plans to convene what he terms a “community conversation” about changing Smith Voke’s unique structure. Unlike all other vocational schools in Massachusetts, which operate as either their own regional districts or as part of a municipal school district, Smith Voke is an independent high school.

Peterson said he does not plan to raise those issues. Instead, he will be focusing on ways to further expand Smith Voke’s educational offerings through more Advanced Placement courses and a future health career track.

“What I hear most from parents is how glad they are to have their kids attending here,” Peterson said. “People ask me how we can afford to start programs and I say, ‘How can we afford not to?’ ”

Classes start at the vocational high school on Sept. 3 and end June 16, 2014, assuming no snow days. Additional information about the 2013-14 school year is available on Smith Voke’s website, smith.tec.ma.us.

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