WAR, W.Va. — The walls of Big Creek High School, which spawned Homer Hickam’s mining-town stories of childhood friends obsessed with rocket-building, will be coming down soon.

Demolition for the 83-year-old campus is slated for this summer, according to McDowell County officials, making way for a new playground that will serve Southside K-8 School.

Coalwood photo

Big Creek High School in War will be demolished later this year.

“Everybody who went to Big Creek High School is very sad today to hear that it’s finally going to be demolished,” said Hickam, one of the school’s most famous graduates.

The school received national attention with the release of the 1999 film “October Sky,” based on Hickam’s book, “Rocket Boys.” It was the first of three books focused on Hickam’s formative years in Coalwood and his pursuit, with several friends, of amateur rocketry.

Big Creek High School opened on Jan. 4, 1932, and closed in 2010, with students being consolidated into River View High School in Bradshaw.

“History rolls on,” Hickam said Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline.”

“Some folks have said some very nice things, that the Coalwood books that I wrote—”Rocket Boys,” “The Coalwood Way,” “Sky of Stone”—will keep that area alive forever, and I hope that’s true.”

The former Big Creek High School gym will remain for use by Southside K-8 School and the community.

Southside K-8 School was built directly in front of Big Creek High School along Route 16, though the official school address is Rocket Boy Drive.

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