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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
BY CHLOE BEAVER, St. Petersburg High
Some say they’ve heard noises. Others say they’ve felt a breeze. When the halls of St. Pete High are dark and quiet, sometimes unexplainable sounds and movements can make people’s hair stand on end. What lurks on campus?
Trish Grunz, director of the drama department at St. Pete High, tells the story of three ghosts that allegedly enjoy spending time in the school’s theater, one of which is a former student who sits in the upper balcony, stage left, in the morning. People believe she was the victim of a tragic crash when she had just graduated and was off at college. There is also a man who sits in the lower balcony, stage right, who wears a suit with a bowler hat. He apparently has been seen watching performances. These two ghosts are harmless, and do nothing but watch the students on stage.
The third is a more mischievous spirit seen as the shadow of a man which has been spotted by students in the costume loft above the drama classroom. The drama students have been interested in the ghost, one even said he thought he had been pushed by the figure. One of Grunz’ former students went ghost hunting, bringing with him a voice recorder, and believes he caught on tape the ghost saying his name was “Noah” after the student asked him. Grunz said she didn’t really believe in the spirits until she saw the man herself, watching monologues being performed on stage.
The theater used to be a basketball court, and Grunz has heard various unexplainable noises such as a basketball being dribbled on stage. “I’m so used to them, I don’t even think about it anymore. I thanked them for saving the theater from the fire,” she said, of the blaze in September that caused more than $1 million in smoke and water damage to the school.
In October 2007, Max Miller a student writer for the school’s newspaper the Palmetto & Pine chronicled some school ghost stories, including a phantom break-in (the sounds of which were recorded on the campus security system but with no physical evidence for police); an unexplained cold patch of air that gave a member of the cleaning crew goosebumps in 90-degree heat; and the persistent scent of Shalimar perfume, said to be worn by the former student who died in the accident and who now allegedly sits in the theater, along with these third-floor anomalies: giggles, whispers, odd noises and a teacher’s chair bouncing as if someone had just stood up from it.
I decided to do some hunting for myself. One early morning I ventured up to the third floor of the main building with two other girls who have been curious about all the ghost stories.
Psychology teacher David Tennian, whose classroom is on the third floor, had offered to give us an exclusive tour of the “haunting grounds” there.
Inside his classroom, we turned a corner to face a locked door. Tennian pulled out his keys and opened the door to complete darkness. We stepped inside onto a thin walkway of wooden planks. Air ducts to the right and a slanted wall to the left with wooden beams for support told me we were inside the attic, or some other room that was obviously visited very little. On the doorway was written, “Heir of the enemy, beware … 2012.”
The boardwalk continued for a few yards before we stepped through another doorway to a similar room, and then through another doorway to another room just like it. Turning a corner, we ducked into a circular brick room about 20 feet in diameter. We were all flashing cameras and in the sudden bursts of light you could just make out writing on the walls: “Time will not change you.”
“This is where it is said that the janitor hung himself,” Tennian said.
What? Things just got pretty real.
He opened a door off to the side of the room and a gust of wind blew in. We were looking out over the roof.
We couldn’t get out of there fast enough. My goosebumps were like mountains, I could barely see my own hand in front of my face, and I had the distinct feeling that I was being watched.
“It was so creepy up there, especially with the writing on the wall and all the weird sounds I heard,” said freshman Mariana Ocano.
Surely there are plausible explanations, right? Students sneaking up to leave their graffiti. Old buildings do creak and groan. And the story about the hanging? Tennian just said it was “said” to have happened.
Or maybe there’s a reason the school’s alma mater lyrics include “your spirit will never die.”