Back to School Ghouls

Photo: Kristina Williamson / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Here's something to think about when getting back to school - that ghost in the corner

STARTING BACK TO school is time for meeting up with friends you haven't seen all summer, settling in with new teachers, and gearing up for a fresh year of activities. It's hardly the time or place you usually think about ghosts. Yet schools, both old and new, can be just as haunted as that old Victorian house on the corner or that ancient crumbling asylum on the edge of town.

Consider these true experiences from people who have encountered ghouls at schools.

HAUNTED MIDDLE SCHOOL

Schools don't have to decrepit old structures to be haunted. Just ask Belinda H., who in 2006 worked for the Frankfort, Kentucky public school system. The middle school was only several years old when Belinda worked as the coordinator of a resource center for parents of children with disabilities, but she had learned that during the first year the school was in operation, a student had died on the premises after a bus accident. In the following years there were many reports of "strange events" there.

Custodians working at night reported hearing someone walking up and down the hall... yet there was no one in the school but themselves. They also heard what sounded like something being dragged across the lockers, voices calling their names, as well as strange knocks on doors by unseen hands.

Belinda experienced the haunting activity first-hand one day during lunch period. She was in the kitchen talking with some of the cafeteria staff about some of the unexplained incidences reported within the school. "One of the ladies brought up the subject of the student who had died and wondered if he had anything to do with some of the weird things that had happened," says Belinda.

"We were standing near a long, stainless steel table, and above the table was an attached pot rack. The spokes that hold the pots are pointed slightly upward to keep them in place. None of us were touching the table, and the moment we mentioned that student, one of the pots hanging on the rack came up off the spoke and flew clear across the room!"

One of the women screamed and ran toward the back door of the cafeteria while the others just stood there in shocked awe. "We tried to find a logical explanation," Belina says, "but there was no way to explain it."

GHOST DOG AT SCHOOL

In March, 1993, Deb R. was in year 9 at a school in Australia that she describes as being "out in the middle of nowhere. March brings autumn in Australia and the days were getting shorter and the weather cooler. Nearby were the ruins of an old inn, constructed during the gold rush of the 1850s. According to legend, the Chinese couple that once ran the inn were buried under the school.

Deb's class and the year 8 students were having a sleepover at the school. That evening around 6:30, Deb was on cooking duty and was outside barbecuing sausages and patties for tea when she suddenly heard a dog barking from inside the school.

As far as she knew, there were no dogs at the school. Then something remarkable happened.

"I was about to investigate when a little dog - a Jack Russell, I think - popped out of the wall!" Dep says. "It ran around barking then headed over to the Tech Studies room and ran through that wall into the room!"

A teacher who also heard the dog barking came out to find out what was going on, and Deb reported what she saw. "Well, this school is supposed to be haunted," the teacher said, "but not by a dog."

Then they heard the barking again and quickly ran around to the other side of the Tech Studies building. "The dog was standing half in the wall, barking," Deb testifies. "We couldn't see his tail or hind legs. While we watched, an orb floated out of the wall, glowing green. The dog followed it, barking constantly."

By this time, about three other students and one other teacher were watching as the phantom dog and orb floated up into the air and were lost from sight in the darkening skies.

"I have never seen anything like this since," says Deb, "but some teachers reported being shaken by the shoulders or felt cold spots when locking up the school late at night."

Next page: The Old Schoolhouse

THE OLD SCHOOLHOUSE

Sometimes schools can be haunted even when they cease to function as schools. Leanne was 13 when her family bought old school property out in the country on which were two structures: the old headmaster's house, where her family now lived, and the schoolhouse itself, which they used as makeshift guest accommodations.

"I loved living there," Leanne says, "because whenever I had friends stay over, we could use the schoolhouse unsupervised.

The place had a kitchen and a bathroom, so we never had to go to the main house."

Leanne discovered how haunted the place was one night when she was staying in the schoolhouse with her friend, Sandy, and her cousin, Shane. The girls set up their sleeping bags in the middle of the room and talked into the early hours of the morning. Just as they were finally saying their goodnights, Leanne noticed something unusual. "It was a green orb about the size of a small dinner plate," she remembers, "and it floated from one side of the room straight over to the fireplace and just stopped."

Her friends saw it, too, and whispered to one another, "What is that?"

Leanne was feeling unusually brave and got up, deciding to prove that what they were seeing was merely the moon. After all, what else could it be? They were out in the middle of nowhere and there were no lights of any kind. "I got up and went to look out the window," she says, "but there was no light source.

The moon was behind the clouds and outside was pitch black."

Just then, all of the windows of the schoolhouse began to shake as the strange orb changed color, from green to orange to red - and getting brighter by the second. Petrified, Leanne retreated and sat back down between her friends.

The rattling of the windows stopped, but the orb remained.

Shane dared Leanne to see if she could touch the orb as it hung mysteriously in mid-air. Leanne gathered her nerve once again, stood, and walked cautiously toward the orb. "I reached up... and it disappeared," she says.

Suddenly there was a loud banging at the front door, which just about made the girls pass out from fright. It was Leanne's father. She switched on a light and opened the locked door for him. He was furious and yelling at Leanne. But for what? He claimed that he has been awakened by all the noise the girls were making. He told her that it sounded like they were banging on the walls.

Leanne tried to convince him that it wasn't them, but he didn't believe her. "We stayed awake until it was morning," Leanne says, "and I haven't slept in there since."