Incident At Public Park Involving SSS Students Under Investigation

Johnston County school officials are investigating an incident involving as many as 25 students from Smithfield Selma High School. It happened around Noon Thursday at Smithfield Community Park, adjacent to the school on Booker Dairy Road.

WTSB News has learned the students were outside with their teacher studying ecosystems.

According to witnesses, several of the students rushed onto playground equipment and into an area where several young children were playing with their parents and grandparents.  A 4 year-old child fell during the rush of students and was injured.

After the incident and injury all the visitors and their children left the community park while the students remained.

One parent who spoke with WTSB said a group of 3 and 4 year-old children were playing when about 25 students he described as 17- and 18-year-olds began running and jumping on the equipment the youngsters were on at the time.  The children became frightened and some began to cry. One child sustained a back injury.

The parent said he asked one of the students what they were doing at the park during school hours. The student claimed they were picking up trash. The parent said he never saw any of the students gathering trash.

“They seemed to be at recess,” the parent who wished to remain anonymous stated. “I spoke to the principal and he said this is not the type of behavior the high school promotes. He was unaware of the students presence.”

The parent said their child was so traumatized by the incident their child does not want to return to the park.

Tracey Peedin Jones, a spokesperson for Johnston County Schools, said the class was being supervised at the time and the details of the situation are being investigated. “JCPS takes this situation seriously and the principal began an investigation as soon as he was made aware.”

WTSB News checked with the Town of Smithfield about the incident.   Tim Kerigan, Public Information Officer for the Town, said the matter was being handled by Smithfield Selma High and Johnston County Schools.

The Smithfield Police Department was never notified about the incident nor did they respond.

“This generation needs to learn to be respectful instead of acting like its recess,” the parent stated. Their child’s injury did not require hospitalization.


  1. It’s becoming a ghetto (and I mean blacks and whites). My family used to be members at the facility in front of the park but found that it’s pretty much the same. Drug dealers on every corner. These kids have no guidance or respect and is the number one reason why SSS fails as a school. It starts at home!

  2. Labeling the teenagers as SSS students makes it seem like all of the students at SSS act like the few that may be responsible for what transpired at the park. The word investigation in the title makes it seem like a crime was perpetrated. And though I am not condoning what happened, the sensationalism in this article is what we continue to fight at SSS. We have great students at our school who accomplish great things, as well as the few highlighted here who may have made some foolish choices. But when the news sensationalizes incidents like this, some readers make sweeping generalizations that perpetuate stereotypes and ill-conceived notions about how successful our school is. It’s not until the end of the article that you even mention the police were not involved in the investigation. Of course, “Incident at Community Park under Question” may not get the reaction or readership desired. Words are powerful. Please choose wisely.

    • I Know for a fact that the students at SSS that were on the playground didnt mess with the little children the park that they were on is a public park that anybody that chooses to go on can so i think that this whole thing is redicoulus and that the father of the child that fell off the swing needs to tend to his own child than to students at a Highschool…. i saw the students they were playing tag on the other side of the equipment …… and the grandparent of one child was asking them why they were there and thats when her grandchild got hurt…

  3. I was at the park when the incident transpired and what actually happened was nothing like what was reported here. The students were ranging across the SRAC parking lot and playground picking up trash; there was no “rush” of students to the equipment; the 4 year old child fell from the swing while his father was pushing him, and not because of the students (who remained on a completely different section of the playground at all times and were nowhere near the young children); and the only disrespect came from an older woman who walked across the playground (leaving her own grandchild unattended on another swing) to yell at the students to get off the equipment and go somewhere else….which they promptly did. The entire incident took less than 10 minutes and the families remained after the students left. Sensationalism, indeed. The students were taking a well-earned break after learning to be good environmental stewards and cleaning up their community park, and were well-supervised and under control at all times.

    Sure, a few students at SSS may constitute a “rough” crowd, and yes, to a certain extent they are a product of their home environments. However, it takes an entire community to raise a child, and the hatred and prejudices exhibited here are not helping. SSS is not at all a “failing” school. It’s past time the school is recognized for the wonderful things its wonderful students do.

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