History of Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School
Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School was established as a result of a bequest in the will of Oliver Smith. Mr. Smith was born in Hatfield, Massachusetts in 1766. He engaged in farming at an early age, and acquired large wealth by stock-raising. He was a magistrate for forty years; twice he was a representative to the legislature; and in 1820, he was a member of the State constitutional convention. He never married and may have been considered eccentric by his neighbors, but he amassed a large fortune, which he bequeathed to establish the "Smith Charities," a unique system of benevolence. At his death in 1845, his estate was valued at nearly $400,000; and the will was contested by his family. Legendary lawyer and legislator Daniel Webster successfully defended the will for the city of Northampton. The fund for the Agricultural School became available for use in 1905, and the amount of $50,000 was turned over to the City of Northampton for the purchase of land on which to build Smith School. The school opened for students in 1908 as the first vocational school in Massachusetts.
Since 1845, when the fund to develop an agricultural school was established, Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School has been at the forefront of a movement toward excellence in vocational training. Today, Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School is a public high school for residents of Northampton and tuition students from all of Hampshire County on a "space available" basis. Students spend alternating weeks in shop and academic programs as they prepare for both a high school diploma and a Certificate of Occupational Proficiency. Graduates of Smith School are expected to meet academic standards, achieve occupational competency, develop ready-to-go work skills, and prepare for continuing education. Integration of technology in course work is encouraged, and students have access to state-of-the-art computer labs with Internet capability. A focus on the acquisition of key life skills-good work habits, reliability, self-confidence, resilience, problem-solving-serves to guide students in their personal growth.
The school is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and all shop programs meet state standards for vocational education programs.