Haunted Schools

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I have worked in many schools over my years and one thing I can tell you is that they are all rather creepy when students have left for the day. At one school there were many reports of the sound of doors opening and closing down the hallway when you knew you were alone in the building. I experienced it for myself one Saturday afternoon when I came in to get some extra work done.

I was in my office working away when I heard the distinct clickety-bang of a classroom door opening and closing somewhere down the corridor from me. I peeked my head out and peered down the darkened hallway, no one. The second time I heard it I called out, no response. By about the fourth time, I figured I’d done enough work for one day.

I was in such a hurry to get out of there that after I called the security office to tell them I was leaving I realized that I had forgotten my purse in my office. Rather have to call security back and retrieve it, I spent the rest of the weekend without it, driver’s license and all! At this same school the motion sensitive hand towel dispenser in the teacher’s restroom would disperse hand towels to a supposedly empty room.

Good times.

Here are five more schools from around the US that will make you forget to dry your hands, your purse, and your bravery.

Metz Elementary, Texas

The old Metz Elementary School building before demolition. [Metz Elementary School], Photograph, n.d.; digital image, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth125274/ : accessed January 23, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.

The old Metz Elementary School building before demolition.(http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth125274/ Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.

Built in 1916 this building served the community for many years before it was decided in 1990 that a new building was needed. The school had no reports of strange occurrences until the demolition began. Bulldozer would inexplicably stall as they approached the school. Worker’s reported tools disappearing and many had small accidents while on site. Mysterious writings that would suddenly appear on the remaining blackboards and apparitions in the bathrooms forced many workers to abandon their jobs. This finally, allegedly, forced the contractor to seek an exorcism on the site. Shortly after this ritual a wall collapsed tragically killing a worker.

A new school was built on this site and reports of child ghosts around the area  and phantom laughter are still being told.

 

Ethel Dwyer Middle School, California

Ethel Dwyer Middle School Courtesy of Orange County Archives

Ethel Dwyer Middle School
Courtesy of Orange County Archives

Ethel Dwyer attended the school as a child and returned as a teacher for many years after. Witnesses report strange flashing lights inside the school visible through the windows at night when the building is empty. Moaning and whispering are rumored to be heard coming from the boiler room. Poltergeist type activity plagues classrooms with opening drawers and  cupboards and missing supplies.

One teacher reported an outline of woman that appeared on her projection screen during class. It was allegedly witnessed by her entire class of stunned students.

 

Matthew Whaley School, Virginia

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

Mary Whaley opened a school for the poor after her son Matthew, who was born in 1696, passed away at a young age. The school was named in honor of her son. Although many different buildings have been erected on the site it is rumored that Mattey’s ghost can be seen around the area. Some reports of a second boy have also been recorded; it is thought this is the spirit of a slave boy that died around the same time as Mattey.

 

Corriher Lipe Middle School, North Carolina

Sometime in the 1940’s a janitor named Larry was killed at this school in a boiler explosion. Witnesses claim to hear Larry’s heavy footsteps and clanking keys in various areas of the school. Reports of disembodied children’s laughter and ghostly apparitions also plague this site.

 

Ranch View Middle School, Colorado

Ranch View Middle School

Ranch View Middle School

The first homes in the Highland’s Ranch development were built in 1981 making it relatively new. The area was a working cattle ranch for a part of its history and began as home to Ute, Cheyenne and Arapaho Native American Indian tribes.

At the school it is reported that the sounds of laughter, crying, and talking can be heard in the empty halls after school has dismissed for the day. In particular, the bathroom behind the stage is home to disembodied laughter and crying from unoccupied stalls. The lights have been known to flicker and water faucets turn on by themselves in this same restroom. The elevator displays electrical anomalies and on the stairs by the gym you can hear what sounds like an equipment bin being dumped over only to find no such thing has happened.

And you thought school lunch was the scariest thing at school!  Ever had a creepy experience at school? Feel free to share, I’d love to hear it! Share here in the comments or email me at joy@joyyehle.com and I might feature your story on this blog or you might just end up in one of my books!

And remember kids, never turn off the lights!

Possession Movies with Real Life Beginnings

There is a new horror film slated for release tomorrow, Devil’s Due. You may not have heard of the movie but maybe you heard about or have seen the viral marketing for this movie.

Funny, yet disturbing.

This movie is based on fictional characters but there are several well known possession movies that are based on allegedly true stories. Probably the best known of these is The Exorcist, based on the story of Roland Doe (not his real name), a 13-year-old boy who in 1949 underwent a month long exorcism ritual conducted by two Jesuit priests, Fathers William Bowdern and Walter Halloran. In the movie version it is a young girl who is overtaken by an evil entity after playing with a Ouija Board. Roland’s ordeal also began with a Ouija board. Several manifestations were inflicted on the boy, writing would spontaneously appear on Roland’s skin, he spoke in a guttural voice, he had an aversion to sacred objects, he was vulgar with the priests and even tried to urinate on them. Finally, according to Tom Leonard of the Daily Mail, the boy shouted out “Satan, I am St. Michael! I command you to leave this body now!” He went limp and announced “He is gone!” He acted normally and has never had a relapse since that moment, prompting some to say the boy was faking the whole thing.

A possession movie I found most interesting was the 2012 release The Possession. Usually it seems the Catholics have the corner market on exorcisms but this story has a Jewish slant. The movie is loosely based on the book The Dibbuk Box by Jason Haxton. In the movie a young girl buys the Dibbuk box at a yard sale and becomes possessed by the evil spirit from Jewish folklore that was trapped inside when she opens the box. In real life the box was first purchased at an Estate sale and later on eBay, finally coming to Jason Haxton. The box has a history of strange and tragic occurrences happening to those in possession or vicinity of the box. Haxton still owns the box and says it is in a safe place, whatever that means. Apparently some strange things happened on the set of The Possession even though the crew and cast turned down Haxton’s offer to give them the actual Dibbuk box. Several times lights inexplicably exploded and phantom gusts of wind would billow on the set. When shooting wrapped up all the props, including the movie version of the Dibbuk box, were put into storage. A short time later the storage unit burned to the ground with no explanation.

Demonic possession is discussed in the Bible numerous times and many religions hold the belief that spirits can possess the living. Dr. William B. Bradshaw, Ph.D, a demonologist, wrote Sinister Among Us as a layman’s primer into demonology. Dr. Bradshaw holds his Ph.D. in demonology has spent decades studying the subject. While he concedes that mental disease, physical maladies, and human choice are usually at the root of these cases he believes that there is a struggle between good and evil. As he points out in his book, possession is not always head-spinning, levitating, pea soup shooting obvious and can strike in the most unlikely place. Which makes the prospect even more unsettling.

Sinister Among Us by William B. Bradshaw

Sinister Among Us by William B. Bradshaw

Unfortunately, my usual advice of never turn off the lights probably won’t help in this situation. Unless you are an unbeliever, then you should be fine, right?

Technology and Death…or Not

One of my works in progress deals with how we let go, or not, of loved ones who have died. Thanks to medical technology we sometimes have to grapple with the question of if our loved one is truly dead and questions about when death actually occurs are raised. Consumer technology has made it possible to let our digital life continue after our physical bodies are dead in the form of a continued Facebook page or LinkedIn account. It is the inherent nature of technology to continually evolve and this arena is no exception.

There is a service called LIVESON that uses Artificial Intelligence to learn about your likes, tastes, and writing style by monitoring your twitter feed. After you die LIVESON will continue to tweet for you based on what it has learned. Their tagline is “When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting”.  Ultimately, a person you have designated as executor of your LIVESON will has the power to determine if the feed stays “live”.

Perhaps you have heard or even participate in Lifelogging. For those haven’t; it’s the act of recording and archiving all the information of your life:  texts, video, audio, media access, emails, blog posts and comments, as well as physical activity, health statics, etc. The data is logged and archived. Wearable computers have made Lifelogging fairly easy and cheap. Just a couple of days ago at the CES in Las Vegas Sony announced Lifelogging software that interfaces with a Smartphone and a wearable item that tracks activity. It logs everything from what photos you took with your phone to how many hours you slept. The wearable hardware features a “life bookmark” button to highlight a point on your timeline as it happens.

Gordon Bell, an award winning engineer and pioneering Lifelogger, has told New Scientist magazine that he created a program for the AI software firm Cognea. His software allows a chatbot to mine lifelogs to answer questions in the same manner the log owner would. After a person dies their lifelog and chatbot, or avatar, or CGI representation  could live on continuing the lifelog timeline.

Albert Hubo  Photo by David Hanson Dayofid at en.wikipedia

Albert Hubo
Photo by David Hanson Dayofid at en.wikipedia

 

For some people these measures could bring comfort in the face of a loss. Others may find it macabre or unsettling. Spiritual and ethical issues could make it desirable or repulsive depending on the viewpoint. In Victorian times, when the technology of photography was evolving, it was common to take post-mortem photos of loved ones. Perhaps, this is a strange step we take to  integrate technology into our lives, making it a part of death.

It was common in the Victorian era to photograph the dead as a keepsake. The girl standing is deceased, she is propped up with a stand.

It was common in the Victorian era to photograph the dead as a keepsake. The girl standing is deceased, she is propped up with a stand.