Smithfield High career center renaming on hold

Published 5:29 pm Monday, July 18, 2022

Plans to name Smithfield High School’s career and technical education building after retired Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton are on hold.

The Isle of Wight County School Board was scheduled to vote July 14 on a formal resolution to name the building the “Thornton Career Center” but instead voted to remove the matter from its agenda.

Vice Chairman Michael Cunningham made the motion to remove the resolution from the agenda. The motion passed 4-0 with board member John Collick absent. Cunningham did not say during the meeting why the resolution had been removed, but he told The Smithfield Times by phone on July 18 that the matter was “going through things that I can’t talk about.”

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“We just wanted to put that on hold for a little while,” Cunningham said.

According to Isle of Wight County Schools spokeswoman Lynn Briggs, the School Board intends to focus on hiring Thornton’s successor this summer, and possibly revisit the resolution in September.

Thornton, who retired July 1, oversaw a multimillion-dollar countywide renovation of the school system’s career and technical education facilities in 2017. The detached Smithfield High facility proposed for renaming became home to Isle of Wight County Schools’ new welding, nursing, engineering, manufacturing and culinary arts programs – including a student-run restaurant named “Turner & 10” for the school’s location at Route 10 and Turner Drive. The project also included a greenhouse and horticulture program at Windsor High School, as well as a working salon run by cosmetology students and a working farm behind Windsor Elementary for agriculture students.