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Powerhouse Closure Has People on Edge

January 13, 1985|Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Northfork High School is closing, taking with it a rich athletic tradition that included a national-record eight straight state basketball championships. "Our kids, after the initial shock, were very, very upset, more upset with this than anything in the 31 years I've been at Northfork High School," said Jennings Boyd, who coached basketball at the school for 25 years. Boyd, a recent inductee into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame, coached Northfork to its State Class AA basketball championships from 1974-81. He said he, too, was upset at the decision to close the school, a move that would send its 240 students to Mount View High School in Welch next year. "It's a very small, little community," Boyd said. "Our central population here is roughly 700 people, and the radius of the school is about eight miles. "I'm sure all the people are in a state of shock. It's an issue, closing a school in a small community like this, that should have had some community input." Mark Page, the current Northfork basketball coach and a member of Boyd's 1974 team that began the state title streak, said, "It's a big part taken out of you. You have a loyalty to the building and then it's taken from you." Boyd's wife, Patricia, a teacher at nearby Elkhorn Junior High for nearly 30 years, said, "My ninth-graders are just devastated. They've been walking around in a trance. "It's an end of a dynasty and probably the end of Northfork period," she said. "I've been thinking about the pictures and trophies. They just won't look right anywhere else and they won't mean as much to anybody else." Boyd said the school's tradition should have been taken into consideration when the McDowell County Board of Education decided to close the school. "It should have been phased out in a one- or two-year period," he said. "But this is creating hardships. Our juniors have already ordered their class rings that say Northfork High School. Our athletic schedules are finalized for next year. We've ordered game uniforms. All of this should have been taken into consideration."

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