ByTommy DePaoli, writer at
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Tommy DePaoli

Schools are often places of torment. Kids have to deal with relentless bullies, unsympathetic teachers, and unending days of public humiliation. Nothing sums up this feeling of hopelessness better than the brutal prom scene in Carrie, when the antagonized main character finally snaps and gets her revenge on her classmates.

This scene absolutely petrified me when I first watched this classic. Granted, I was about nine years old, but it made me never want to step foot in a school gymnasium ever again.

Now, despite the fact that I'm well past those years, I'm getting that same nauseous, malign sensation that was once so familiar. This time, however, it's a result of the overabundance of supposedly haunted schools in the United States. If you want to risk never entering a school again, here are the five freakiest cases of paranormal activity occurring on a school campus.

1. Pocatello High School - Idaho

After last year's winter break, surveillance footage from Pocatello High School made its way onto the Internet. At the start, it shows deserted hallways, normal for that time of the year with kids home for the holidays. Then, a shadowy figure makes its way out of a doorway and moves into the corridor before lights flicker wildly and various screens go berserk. After kids and staff returned, some students and even teachers reported hearing strange whispers and noises pervading the school. Some outright refused staying in the auditorium alone due to a shadow that hangs over it.

Eventually, the presence got so bad that the school summoned paranormal investigators. Their conclusion was that there had been six deaths on the property, and the school was set ablaze in 1914 only to be rebuilt on 1918. Could this be souls from the beyond trying to communicate with current students?

2. Lee Williams High School - Arizona

There's a chamber in Lee Williams High about the size of tomb that only the principal dares to venture near. It's dusty, cramped, and chilly (even in the harsh Arizona heat). Principal Steve Elwood says that they will threaten kids with detention here if they are seriously misbehaving.

Apparently, this is more than just a scary room. There are persistent rumors that the school is haunted by specters from another century when it was a frontier town. Students have seen men in bowler hats and long coats patrolling the hallway—dissatisfied that their home was paved over for the school. The janitor is completely convinced, saying that he hears footsteps and even the voice of a little girl mumbling the boy's bathroom. Part of the school was built atop an old cemetery home to bodies from battles between Native tribes and American settlers. Sounds to me like this is your typical American Indian graveyard with quite the debt to settle, so remind me why they would choose to build a school there.

3. Lambertville High School - New Jersey

Built in 1854, Lambertville High School endured a devastating fire sometime between 1925 and 1926. A rumored 150 people perished as most of the school crumbled around them. After it was rebuilt in 1927, another fire rampaged through the school a few years later, immediately causing speculation of a curse. The school required patrolling by police so that kids didn't make their way to the destruction and fall through the floorboards to their death.

The fire led to urban legends about children roaming the school, alternating between laughing and grimacing in pain. Another legend claims that chalkboard drawings would appear spontaneously, showing ghostly children permanently stuck in this fiery hellhole. The building has since been demolished because it became an unsafe destination for those obsessed with the paranormal. But did the ghosts go with it?

4. Epsom Red Schoolhouse - New Hampshire

There is no evidence of what really took place at Epsom Red Schoolhouse, but that has led to pervasive speculation about the reason for all the ghostly activity. The legend goes that twelve young children went to the schoolhouse to learn, only to be violently abused by their teacher. Eventually, the abuse is said to have gotten so bad that the children were killed before they could report him.

While there is no proof, the picturesque house has been the subject of many paranormal investigators who claim to have picked up three instances of an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) and multiple orbs on photos. Even with that minimal evidence, the simple idea of twelve children being tortured to death in a school so quaint is enough to make my stomach turn.

5. Willowbrook State School - New York

In potentially the most disturbing and tragic events to ever occur at an American school, Willowbrook State School started functioning as a facility for disabled children in 1947. Outbreaks of hepatitis were outrageously common for a decade, developing in about 90% of children after their arrival. The doctors there used this opportunity to conduct tests on the children, effectively rendering them "human guinea pigs" in the process. In one case, a doctor feed live hepatitis virus to 60 uninfected children, watching as their eyes became a sickly yellow and their livers bulged. They've been called the "most unethical medical experiments ever performed on children in the United States."

By the sixties, the institution had developed a reputation for horrendous living conditions, with patients living in dirt like animals in a zoo. Geraldo Rivera investigated the campus and found that overcrowding, broken and sullied bathrooms, and sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the staff were common. This led to the school's closure, but before that occurred in 1987, one little girl named Jennifer Schwieger went missing. Her body was found on the grounds, and the custodian was blamed of the crime.

People who have gone to visit have reported disembodied screaming and wailing as well as the feeling of being pushed around by shadowy figures. There are rumors around Staten Island that there is a satanic cult that functions on the grounds. If all of this sounds familiar, it's because many people speculate that American Horror Story: Asylum found its roots in this tragic story.


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