January 31, 2014

My Haunted High School

I think I'm naturally a skeptic when it comes to people's claims about the paranormal. This might come as a surprise to most, but part of the reason has to do with certain individuals who want to ascribe any unusual event to ghosts, aliens, or Bigfoot. It was with this attitude that I did not immediately believe stories that my high school was haunted.
I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the Northeast Heights portion of the city. Because of where I lived, I went to the newest high school in the city, called La Cueva. It was on what was then the outskirts of Albuquerque, and was surrounded by new home developments and plenty of open mesa. Considering that my high school was constructed in the late 1980s, I laughed off claims that the second story was haunted. 

I first heard about the haunting in my sophomore math class. The second story, where I had a few classes, was becoming noticeably dirty. There were dust bunnies and little piles of trash on the floors, and the white boards were getting quite dingy. Someone asked our teacher what was going on, and he told us about how the janitors refused to clean the upstairs at night because it was supposedly haunted. My teacher wasn't amused by the lack of cleanliness and the poor excuse made for it, as he saw things. This was the same teacher of mine who was an Army Ranger in Vietnam and told us a story once about how he was attacked by a student with a knife when he first returned from his final tour of duty and how quickly he disarmed the kid. I, like my teacher, blew off the reports. The janitors finally started cleaning the upstairs during the daytime, which of course did not please the teachers. 

During my junior year I happened to be with a group of students preparing for a DECA competition. We met in our teacher sponsor's classroom, which just happened to be on the second story of the school. It was late at night, and all memory of the haunting stories had been completely forgotten by everyone. Just as we were wrapping things up and about to leave because it was so late, we heard several chairs and tables in the classroom next door move around, like there was a class full of students rearranging from rows to a circle, or vice versa. At first we thought nothing of it, but then quickly remembered it was late and nobody else was in the school, or so we thought. 

Several of us stood up and ran to the other classroom's door. There was nobody in there, and there was no way someone could have ran out of the classroom, without making pounding noises and us not seeing them running down the hallway (I was in track, so I ran pretty fast). After the whole incident, I remembered that the janitors were scared to clean the upstairs at night. Let's just say my skepticism about the whole thing started to slide away. 

Why was a newer building haunted? At the time it perplexed me, until I heard the urban legends that our school was built on the former landfill for Albuquerque. Since then I've researched that claim and found it was actually located near my high school on a 70-acre plot of land that's still sitting undeveloped. In the end, it's unlikely that the haunting had much of anything to do with the building and likely had something to do with the land. 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think that would've made me a believer. Sounds like something out of the movie Poltergeist.

Robin said...

This was an interesting post on several levels.

1) I always like a good supernatural story. I don't even care about the nature of the "otherly" event, so long as the tale is interesting. This one was.

2) You have pointed out a Universal Truth that seems to hold across the board. MOST people don't fully believe in the possibility of supernatural events until something happens to THEM. We tend to disbelieve anything we don't see, feel, or touch ourselves.

I am one of those odd exceptions. When I was in school, Scholastic still sent home the pamphlets with books you could order (bi-monthly maybe?). The first book I ever bought from them, with my own money I will add, was on E.S.P. It was a bunch of stories about people who experienced bizarre, mostly one-time events, of "knowing" something was happening that they couldn't explain.

My point is that I was open to the Possibility of what we call supernatural events. I still am. I think that ghosts do exist. I think that these spirits become stuck here because they died suddenly or horrifically and don't realize they are dead. I also believe a spirit will stick around if they think that they cannot leave due to unfinished business. (For instance, like Patrick Swayze's character in the movie Ghost.) I believe that some people are actually psychic and some people can talk to people who have crossed over.

I think of it like dogs. Dogs are color-blind. But, what if there are a few dogs out there that are not? They can see brilliant color. Now, if they could tell the other dogs that they see these amazing colors, the other dogs wouldn't believe it... because they can't. But, that doesn't make it impossible. Most people see in color, so that means it is possible. Those dogs just got a little something Extra.

I know that this post wasn't a "Do You Believe?" sort of post... but you did open the door by saying that you didn't and then you did. I apologize that my comment was as long as your post!

Steven said...

Alex, it definitely convinced me something was going on in the school. Perhaps it was poltergeist activity.

Robin, your comment was only *almost* as long as my post! There have been people who have postulated the same thing, that some people have a psychic sensitivity that helps them see, hear, smell, etc. things others cannot. It's a fascinating subject, which is partially why my next book touches heavily on this theme.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

That is really creepy. Were the chairs rearranged in any way?

The housekeepers who service the mountain house we own (and rent out to vacatiners) claim they sense a presence in the house. I have never had any encounters there, although I had a very strange experience once when I light-heartedly "greeted" the spirit when arriving ... and then later found little gifts around the house. Small things, obviously left behind by tenants, but things I just happened to need.

Probably a coincidence, huh?

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Your description of the chairs and tables moving gave me chills because the house I grew up in was haunted and that sound came from our dining room all the time. Every incident involved that room. Always made me wonder what had happened there.

VR Barkowski said...

I'd be spooked, too. (pardon the pun)

There are many things we don't understand in this world. Just because at present we don't have a scientific explanation, doesn't mean these events are outside nature.

Personally, I don't believe in the supernatural. I hate the word because it suggests beyond nature, and is used as a dismissal rather than as reason to probe deeper.

VR Barkowski

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I've never been in a haunted house or school or hotel, but I'd like the experience one day!

Steven said...

Dianne, they did not look rearranged at all.

Diane, sounds like someone or something had a fixation on the dining room. There have been plenty of mysteries I have never gotten to the bottom of.

VR, interesting perspective. Perhaps one day we'll understand these sorts of things better, but I'm not holding my breath by any means.

Karen, I know plenty of people who tell me this. Having had multiple experiences in the past, with most of them being at lest somewhat negative, I wish I could say the same.