“How about I believe in the unlucky ones? ” this could arguably be the most important line in the entire film, October Sky. This teacher, Miss Riley, recognizes the potential in every student, not only the ones with visible ability. This should be the goal of every teacher. Miss Riley not only provides the boys with hope, but also with endless supports as they proceed in their rocket building. Teachers have the greatest gift in the world—the ability to help shape a student’s life. They can use that to present a world of opportunities to those who may not have had any.
This was true in October Sky; when the “Rocket Boys”, a group of high school students from a small failing mining community, were given an amazing opportunity to be more than they were. There being little expectations placed on them and even fewer opportunities made available. These boys set out to do outstanding things. When Miss Riley was accused of giving the boys false hopes she held her ground and continued to support the boys. This is a great example of a great teacher, one who will continue to do what she thinks is right regardless of whether it earns her the disapproval from some of her peer staff.
The film October Sky gives a very positive representation of how four boys did not let others beliefs hold them back from their hunger for a college education. A teacher is not necessarily only there for informational needs but to stand behind his or her students and be prepared to defend their rights to discover themselves. Recognizing hidden potential is a difficult task, especially if the student brings great adversity. However, it is not impossible as Miss Riley realizes. As Miss Riley plays the static audio from the radio of the Russian satellite “Sputnik” for her class.
She asks a student what he thinks of the subject, Homer Hickam had no answer. It was not until he witnesses Sputnik with his own eyes that had began to have an interest in rockets and space. Thus this began the journey that would get him and his friends into college. The “Rocket Boys” set off to build a working rocket, one that would go up high in the air. As life would have it the “Rocket Boys” did not go without hardship. In their journey the first rocket, AUK I, blows up a section of the Hickam home fence. They get right back to work on AUK I with the help of a company worker they have a functioning rocket.
The boys go to launch it from a hill top near the mine and unknowingly the rocket heads straight toward the mines. Landing in front of Hickam’s father’s office Homer and the boys are faced with their first setback. Hickam’s father lets him know, “Don’t you ever let me catch you with these fool things on company property again,” which meant they would have to get about eight miles out of Coalwood, West Virginia. This gets O’Dell and Roy Lee to doubt in themselves because they cannot see a future where they win a science fair.
A million to one, O’Dell,” are the chances that a bunch of kids from Coalwood actually winning the National Science Fair (October Sky). Like being stripped from working on company property the “Rocket Boys” face another similar hardship when they are accused of starting a fire. It did not help that they could not account for many of their rockets like AUK XIII. Homer’s ambition to go to college, to space, and the hell out of the mines got him to learn and understand a math equation that would help the “Rocket Boys” prove their innocence.
They win the County science Fair and are off to the National Science Fair. With the ambition that Miss Riley had for the “Rocket Boys” and the ambition of the boys they got to qualify for the National Science Fair. Miss Riley begins to settle travel arrangements. The boys once again had trouble with the travel; Big Creek High School had only enough to send one student to the fair being held in Illinois. Quentin, O’Dell, and Roy Lee make the obvious decision and send Homer. This would not be the end of the “Rocket Boys” hardships.
Homer goes off to the fair and is flabbergasted to be in the presence of other amazing qualifiers. He decides to take a walk around Illinois only to find that upon arrival back to his stand, his Delevan nozzle, rocket, and signed picture of Dr. Von Braun had been stolen. Homer makes a call home to get help from townies who support the “Rocket Boys”. It takes effort from everyone to make and send new supplies, but the town comes through. Shocked to hear, Homer walks up to receive the first prize in the National Science Fair and scholarships for all of the “Rocket Boys”.
This is why October Sky gives a positive representation of how others beliefs are not meant to hold anyone back from their hunger for anything; that actions have consequences, good or bad. Miss Riley is a role model, an informational source, a defender, and a fighter for the “Rocket Boys”. Being compassionate, understanding, and very beneficial she kept the students moving towards their goals and to persist in their rocket building. Miss Riley recognizes that the boys, especially Homer had more potential than they were showing.
She knows that the mines are not were theses students should end up. So she pushes them to greatness and is left with hope that she will someday tell future students that she was who taught the “Rocket Boys”. The rocket boys all went off to do even bigger things; Quentin became a chemical engineer in the oil industry, Roy Lee became an automobile dealer and retired banker, O’Dell became a rancher and owner of his own insurance agency, Homer became an engineer for NASA and trained astronauts for Space Shuttle missions.