Shelton High School (Connecticut)

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Shelton High School
Outside of Shelton High School 2009.JPG
120 Meadow Street
Shelton, Connecticut
Type Public
Established 1973
School district Shelton Public Schools
Headmaster Dr. Beth Smith
Faculty 106
Grades 9-12
Gender Coeducational
Number of students 1784 students
Color(s) Orange and Black
Mascot Gael
Newspaper Gael Winds
Magnet School No
Charter School No
Year-round schedule No

Shelton High School (SHS) is a public high school in Shelton, Connecticut, in eastern Fairfield County. It has a student body of approximately 1700 from grades 9 through 12. Other nearby high schools are Trumbull High School and St. Joseph High School (Trumbull), Masuk High School (Monroe), Frank Scott Bunnell High School (Stratford), and Stratford High School (Stratford).

In May 2011, Shelton High School's headmaster, Beth Smith, gained international attention for her decision to ban senior honors student James Tate and two friends from the senior prom for posting a message above the school entrance asking his classmate Sonali Rodrigues to be his date.[1][2][3] After widespread criticism and international attention it was announced on May 14, 2011 that Smith had reversed her decision and the three would be allowed to attend the dance.[4]

NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky is a Shelton High School alumnus.

SHS History[edit]

Outside Shelton High School during Construction in 1973.

The first four SHS graduates received their diplomas on June 26, 1889, from the 'first' Shelton High School. In 1894, the First School Society became the Town School Committee with Walter D. Hood as the first school superintendent.[5]

The current Shelton High School was built in 1973 by Fusco Construction Company.[citation needed]

In 2006 the city of Shelton got the vote to renovate the school at a cost of about $25,000,000 and began the project. Fusco Construction Company was again hired as construction manager.[citation needed] The renovation started in the summer of 2006 and the majority of the renovation was completed in August 2008.

Dr. Beth Smith became Shelton High School's new headmaster at the start of the 2008-2009 school year.[citation needed] She replaced Donald K. Ramia, who retired in 2008.[citation needed]

SHS December 2008 Fire[edit]

A cigarette thrown into a garbage can in the maintenance department's storage closet sparked the fire that damaged a portion of Shelton High School. That closet, on the second floor of the building behind the cafeteria, contained both paper supplies and chemical cleaning agents, which reportedly led to an explosion which set off the fire. Smoke got into the school's ventilation system, sending it throughout the school, resulting in heavy smoke damage. Firefighters had to break several windows in classrooms, including the new fourth floor science wing, to ventilate the smoke. Heavy water damage also occurred. The damage was extensive, in the millions of dollars. The media center was heavily damaged by the smoke, and a thermal imaging camera showed flames coming out of the ductwork. Fire damage was confined to the second-floor storeroom where the fire broke out shortly after noon on Dec. 30. Heavy smoke damage occurred only in second and third floor areas directly over the storeroom. The odor of smoke permeated in just about all of the rest of the school. Fire Marshal Tortora said the fire-rated storeroom, designed to keep a fire from spreading rapidly, and the HVAC system, designed to shut off if smoke is detected, both worked as they were supposed to. Some of the heaviest smoke damage occurred in the adjacent storage closets, several nearby classrooms and in the media center on the floor above the fire, leaving soot stains on the walls, furniture and contents. Some books and computers may have to be replaced. A number of doors were damaged as firefighters dealt with heavy smoke. Cleanup of the school started on December 31, 2008.

Gael Winds[edit]

The school newspaper is called the Gael Winds. The paper had issues with censorship under Dr. Smith after instating prior review in the 2012-2013 year and then removing the popular advisor in the 2014-2015 year.[6]



Shelton High School has a variety of sports programs, such as the football, baseball, boys' volleyball, swimming, ice hockey, girls' and boys' indoor and outdoor track and field ,and girls' cheerleading programs. They are part of the Housatonic Division of the Southern Connecticut Conference.[8]

The Shelton Gaels high school football team won the state championship in 1988, 1995, 2000, and 2003. The Gaels have been a mainstay in statewide newspaper polls and rankings for the past ten years, usually being ranked one of the best teams in the state by sports columnists and reporters.

The Shelton Gaels high school men's volleyball team won the state championship back-to-back in 2004 and 2005, running an impressive 46-0 straight record. The Shelton Gaels Varsity Cheerleading squad won State Champs in 2000-2001 season.

The Shelton Boys Cross Country Team won their first ever Division Championship, and SCC Championship in 2007, as well as making their first trip to the New England championships. In 2008, they placed 2nd in the CIAC State Open Championships, and 4th in the New England Championships.

Construction and Renovation[edit]

Shelton High School recently underwent a $25,000,000 renovation project.

Some of the renovations include:

  • Auditorium upgrades, which include new seating, lighting, sound, and other technology,
  • A new science wing was added from the existing library mezzanine. In addition, all other science classrooms were renovated to a 'like new' condition
  • New HVAC system/mechanical system
  • Air quality improvement
  • Electrical system upgrades
  • Building technology upgrade
  • Phone system upgrade
  • Plumbing
  • Fire alarm system, life safety systems, ADA, and building codes
  • Site reconstruction

An addition on the east side, a wing of about 18,000 square feet (1,700 m2), was added, containing new weight room and locker rooms areas. The old weight room was constructed into an auxiliary gymnasium. New student lockers were installed throughout the building. Construction started in the summer of 2006 and major construction was completed by August 2008. During the summer of 2009, new outside doors were installed along the building. The cafeteria ceiling was rebuilt. New boilers were replaced due to unsatisfactory performance. The new health room was reconstructed to reduce noise levels.

Some Construction Photos From 2007
East Addition Exterior View 2007.jpg
East Addition Exterior View2 2007.jpg
East Addition Exterior View3 2007.jpg
East Addition Interior View4 2007.jpg
FUSCO'S SHS Field Office.jpg
East Addition Exterior View Near Completion 2007.jpg

Fire Rehabilitation Construction

During the summer of 2009 construction began to rehabilitate the fire damage. New fire doors throughout the building were installed. The floor in the main lobby was ripped up and reinstalled due to a crack caused by water and a support beam that needed to be replaced from the fire. Old interior sheetrock walls were removed form classrooms, and new fireproof cinder blocks were installed, along with a door leading to the next classroom for use in emergencies. Construction in the library and the maintenance / custodial area was performed to bring those areas back to perfection. New fire hose boxes were installed to replace old outdated ones. All fire code violations were addressed.

SHS 2008 sprinkler issue[edit]

Despite this major renovation, there were growing concerns about the state's fire codes in the school. State law and building codes clearly state that sprinkler systems must be installed in older schools that undergo renovations. However, later investigation showed that Shelton High School does meet all fire code requirements. Building Committee Chairman Anthony Simonetti said that Shelton High School did not go under a "like new" renovation. Instead it went through an "alteration," which does not automatically require putting sprinklers in the building. Fire Marshal Tortora said that some violations of the state fire code having to do with several windowless rooms will soon be fixed.

A fire caused extensive damage in part of the school in late December 2008, while students were out on holiday break. During the fire cleanup, another building inspection took place in the building. Conducted by the Shelton Fire Marshall's office, it found 8 pages of fire code violations, some having to do with the lack of sprinklers in maintenance areas and art rooms. The building's fire doors were also cited. Many of the door's self-closing devices were broken, some doors were bent and couldn't close, and some didn't have fire alarm magnets.

2011 Prom banning[edit]


Shelton High School Headmaster Beth Smith came under widespread fire following press reports on May 11, 2011 of her decision to ban senior James Tate (an honors student with no prior disciplinary record) and two friends from attending the senior prom, a "once-in-a-lifetime" event.[9] The students had taped a message of 12-inch high cardboard letters above the school's entrance inviting Tate's classmate, Sonali Rodrigues, to go to the dance with him.[9] In addition to giving the students in-school suspensions for what she described as a safety issue, Smith described the act as trespass and banned them from the June 4 dance. Tom Murphy, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Department of Education, said that students have to learn that "attending the prom is a privilege."[9]


In addition to becoming the subject of protests on Facebook, the incident gained not only national[10][11] but also international[12] attention. Tate and Rodrigues appeared on the Today Show to discuss the incident.[13]

Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti[9] and Shelton High School alumnus NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky[14] questioned the appropriateness of the punishment. Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy sided with the student, saying, "While it seems that there are rules that were broken, in this case, it doesn’t seem as though the punishment fits the crime."[13] The punishment prompted state lawmakers Jason Perillo (R-Shelton) and Sean Williams (R-Waterbury) to introduce an amendment to a pending bill that, with an exception for vandalism and violence, would require schools to offer parents an alternative to banning students from school-related activities as means of punishment.[15]


On May 12, Smith read a statement in a brief press conference announcing that she stood behind her decision, citing long-standing policy.[16] Protests at the school continued the next day, with students being sent home saying they'd been told they were "inciting a riot and breach of peace."[17] Yet on May 14, Smith held a press conference[18] reversing the decision, saying that "the level of distraction created by this incident" had "affected the culture of Shelton High School" and that "international notoriety" had forced her to reverse herself.[19]

Schools Superintendent Freeman Burr said, "James Tate has set for us a new standard for romanticism. Principals have to make difficult decisions every day. No one could have anticipated this kind of response."[20]

Tate would go on to attend and be elected co-King of the Prom.[21]

SHS School Photos[edit]

SHS Photos, Spring 2009 SHS Stadium
Shs driveway view.JPG
Outside of Shelton High School 2009.JPG
Shs bus loop ex-closeup.JPG
Shs main drive.JPG
Shs main enter.JPG
Shs main enter far view.JPG
Shs field.JPG


  1. ^ Connecticut Post on line "Shelton High senior has a date, but can't go to the prom" Anne M. Amato, Staff Writer Updated 08:24 a.m., Wednesday, May 11, 2011
  2. ^ Daily Mail"You WON'T go to the ball: Teen banned from prom after posting giant invite on school's walls" By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
  3. ^ "NFL Quarterback Backs Teen Barred From Prom, but School Stands Firm on Decision" By Joshua Rhett Miller Published May 12, 2011
  4. ^ Connecticut Teen Allowed to Attend Prom Published May 14, 2011
  5. ^ "SHS History". 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "SHS Athletics". 
  8. ^ "Souther Connecticut Conference". Housatonic Division. 
  9. ^ a b c d Miller, Joshua Rhett (May 11, 2011). "Mayor: Punishment Doesn't Fit Crime in Case of Connecticut Teen Barred From Prom". Fox News. 
  10. ^ "Creative Prom Invite Gets Student Suspended", NPR
  11. ^ A story about this incident, featuring reporter Ben Sosenko, was aired nationially on MSNBC
  12. ^ "You WON'T go to the ball: Teen banned from prom after posting giant invite on school's walls". Daily Mail (London). May 12, 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Gendreau, LeAnne (2011). "James Tate Take Prom Plea to Today Show". Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  14. ^ NFL QB Joins Huddle of Support for No-Prom Teen May 12, 2011 8:28 PM EDT
  15. ^ "NFL Quarterback Backs Teen Barred From Prom, but School Stands Firm on Decision". Fox News. May 12, 2011. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ Tate serves suspension as fellow students attempt sit-in Anne M. Amato, Staff Writer Updated 11:16 p.m., Friday, May 13, 2011
  18. ^ press video of press conference
  19. ^"
  20. ^ "Connecticut Teen Allowed to Attend Prom". Fox News. May 14, 2011. 
  21. ^ "THE BIG DANCE: James Tate and Sonali Rodrigues attend Shelton prom" New Haven Register, June 05, 2011, Pamela McLoughlin

External links[edit]

Southern Connecticut Conference, Housatonic Division[edit]

High School School Mascot Location School Colors
Amity Regional High School Spartans Woodbridge, Connecticut Black & Gold
Cheshire High School Rams Cheshire, Connecticut Red & White
Lyman Hall High School Trojans Wallingford, Connecticut Navy & Orange
Sheehan High School Titans Wallingford, Connecticut Maroon & Gold
Shelton High School Gaels Shelton, Connecticut Orange & Black

Coordinates: 41°19′17″N 73°07′01″W / 41.3214°N 73.117°W / 41.3214; -73.117