WAR — Historic Big Creek High School is expected to be demolished this summer, according to McDowell County Superintendent Nelson Spencer.
“I’d love to see it begin as soon as school is out, but that’s going to depend on the bidder,” Spencer said. “That building hasn’t been used in the last three years.”
The gym, which is still used by the school and the community, will not be demolished.
Plans for a new playground at the Big Creek site are already in motion.
“Where the old Big Creek High School sits now we’ll do the landscaping to where we can build a playground for the students,” Spencer said.
War Mayor Kitten Cempella said the school has meant a lot to the community over the years.
“For a lot of years it was the pride of our town along with the teachers and students,” Cempella said. “But since it has closed it really does need to come down because the students at the new school need the space for a playground and outdoor activities.”
Cempella said the demolition of the school will also create more parking.
“And it won’t be such an eyesore there at the new school,” Cempella said.
The old high school received national attention in 1999 courtesy of the movie “October Sky,” which depicted the true story of the Rocket Boys of McDowell County.
“I am deeply saddened by the demolition of Big Creek High School,” Homer Hickam, leader of the original Rocket Boys, said. “Within its halls and classrooms passed some of the most dedicated, talented teachers ever known. I was privileged to be a member of the student body of Big Creek and our state and our country is poorer for its passing.”
The final graduating class accepted their diplomas in May of 2010.
The school was open for 79 years.
— Blake Stowers is a writer for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph