When I was in high school, I saw a ghost.
Or, at least, I thought I saw one. The school was running a fundraising event one evening, and I joined a group of classmates headed to a temporary classroom on the far side of the building to retrieve fold-up chairs. Approaching the classroom, we saw a green face pressed against the inside of one of the windows in the dim night light. Needless to say, we wasted no time hightailing it out of there.
The next day, after plucking up the courage to approach the classroom again before the first bell, we burst out laughing (mostly in relief) when we saw that it was a green rubber mask squashed against the inside of the window.
But sometimes, it’s not just a spooky Halloween mask. On this list are some haunted high school stories, some creepier than others, that still make the rumor mill from time to time.
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10 Turakina Māori Girls’ College, New Zealand
In 2015, two students boarding at the Turakina Māori Girls’ College left the school and refused to return after allegedly being threatened by the apparition of a man in a black cape and hat. It was soon revealed that the school administration had accused the two girls of fabricating the story, which led to their parents getting involved and losing their temper over the handling of the matter. Some parents said that the school administration was in denial about the ghost (kehua) haunting the school hostel and also reacted angrily when a local reverend suggested the ghost had been made up by the girls.
A former student then spoke up about her own experiences at the hostel dating back 20 years. Thirty-eight-year-old Kelly Sliepen told a local news outlet that when she was a student, she and a group of classmates once saw a cup careen across a table by itself and drop to the floor. She said that a local minister had been called to bless the building but that she saw an apparition on the main stairs not long afterward.
The school closed in 2016 after financial problems caused student enrollment to drop from 152 to just 47.
9 Hibbing High School, Minnesota
Hibbing High is not your average hum-drum school building. Here, the staircases are marble, the railings are brass, and art deco walls hold the whole, almost medieval, design together.
The auditorium was modeled after the Capitol Theatre, which is a sight in itself. And when Bob Dylan was still Robert Zimmerman and a student at Hibbing High, he performed on the auditorium stage during a talent show.
But even with star performers and a stunning design, it’s a lone seat inside the auditorium that attracts the most attention. The story goes that the first stage manager, Bill, was employed at the school from 1927 to the late 1960s when he died after a chandelier fell on his head.
Rumors soon flew that Bill never really vacated his favorite seat in the theatre, namely J-47. In the early ’90s, Chuck Perry, who at that point had been stage manager since 1979, took a series of photographs of the auditorium after a woman reported feeling a cold chill as she walked around the J-47 row. And lo and behold, one of the photographs, taken with a Polaroid camera, showed a man sitting in J-47, wearing formal clothes and a top hat. Oh, and you could see right through him.
8 Downlands Sacred Heart College, Queensland, Australia
This secondary school in Toowoomba was used as military quarters during wartime, and as such, many ghost stories have sprouted up starring the school as the featured location. These include the urban legend of a man on fire, stumbling and screaming his way through campus, the tale of a priest still roaming the on-site chapel, and the apparition of a woman appearing in the administration building.
In 2015, a local ghost hunting group published a historic class photo taken at the school, which they believed showed a ghost amid a group of boys. The blurry figure toward the top right of the photograph seems to be wearing the same uniform as the rest of the students. The photo can be seen hanging on a wall inside the school and is considered proof of ghostly activity.
7 Old Maui High School, Hawaii
With the arrival of missionaries and sugarcane plantation owners in Maui came the construction of the Maui High School in 1913. The school relocated in 1972, leaving the old building to slowly begin rotting away. Today, only the shell of the once-imposing structure remains. That, and a handful of eerie ghost stories.
In Hawaii, the general belief is that those who have died always return to the places they frequented in life. At Old Maui High, it is said that some of the students and teachers still walk the grounds and sometimes even interact with the living. There have been reports of students exploring the ruins of the school, only to be choked within an inch of their lives by invisible hands. Visitors to the area have also reported hearing the heart-breaking sobbing of a girl in what used to be a bathroom.
6 Rizal High School, Phillipines
The Philippines is well known for its ghosts. And in 2015, one was allegedly captured in a photograph in a bathroom at Rizal High School. Two students posed for a selfie in front of the basins and happily went about their merry way. Until they reviewed their selfie, that is. As they commented about how cute they looked in the photo, they spotted a figure in the background, crouching next to a trash can.
Upon closer inspection, it looked like a girl with long black hair wearing black clothes, staring at the two best friends.
It didn’t take long for the selfie to go viral, and social media users immediately pounced on the fact that the “ghost” looked a lot like Samara from The Ring. The students denied faking the photograph, and more students started reporting that they’d seen ghostly apparitions on the school premises.
The school administration, at the time, considered having the building blessed to rid it of any and all ghosts.
5 Old Portland High School, Michigan
The old high school in Portland, Ionia County, Michigan, originally opened in 1881. According to a longstanding urban legend, a 14-year-old student was crushed to death underneath a pile of gym bleachers that collapsed on her in 1918. The janitor, who failed to fix the bleachers after learning they were faulty, disappeared. It is believed that the student’s father killed the janitor out of revenge for his daughter’s death. He then burned the body and set fire to the school. The school was rebuilt and reopened in 1920. However, the ghosts of the girl and the janitor remained.
Decades later, the school was converted into a housing complex named Old School Manor. It served as housing between 1992 and 2008, and during this time, several tenants reported that their household items would disappear, only to be found stacked on top of one another in a different room. Others reported hearing the disconnected school bells ringing, and some have even encountered the ghost of the student, who allegedly slapped them on the back.
One tenant, in particular, had a horrendous experience with the janitor’s ghost. She alleged that the ghost would terrorize her two-year-old daughter and demanded that she tell her mother they had to move out of their apartment.
4 Nightmute High School, Alaska
Even if this Alaska school wasn’t haunted, the name is creepy enough to warrant an eerie story or two. And the story of the lonely girl is the one most visitors are told about.
It is said that the spirit of a young girl has been encountered in the school’s bathrooms, where she flushes the toilets or makes the lights flicker. If basketballs are left out in the gym, you might just spot them hurtling toward the hoop, driven by an unseen force.
In life, the girl had no friends and would skulk around the edge of gatherings and groups before being chased off. It has also been rumored that a burial was found underneath room 106, which just so happens to be the place where the girl’s ghost was often spotted as well.
3 Hwa Chong Institution, Singapore
If you’re looking for more than a handful of haunted schools in one country, then look no further than Singapore. There are at least 20 haunted schools, of which one of the most infamous is the Hwa Chong Institution in Bukit Timah. This secondary school is surrounded by tall trees. These same trees need to be avoided at night, and you should definitely not shine a flashlight up toward the branches.
Doing that will make the bodies of those murdered and hung by Japanese forces during WWII appear. And if that isn’t creepy enough, it is believed that the statues on the school grounds are haunted too. If a person walks up behind the statue of Tan Kah Kee, for instance, it will turn around and ask for the time. The statue of Lee Kong Chian had its eyes covered after they started glowing at night.
Some say that the field at the school used to be shaped like a tombstone, and that it was the initial reason for all the hauntings here.
2 Jeppe High School for Boys, South Africa
In Kensington, Johannesburg, stands the illustrious Jeppe High School for Boys. The history of this school is closely related to the history of Johannesburg itself. Four years after the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand, the need to educate the children of miners eventually resulted in the construction of the first school building. The main school building and war memorial erected on the grounds were declared national monuments in 1986.
Jeppe Boys’ is also the place where a ghost retraces her steps through the corridors on a regular basis, scaring the pants off the boys that stay in the on-site hostel during school terms. It is whispered that the ghost of a woman has walked here ever since she committed suicide after the death of her husband during WWI. Another version of the story says that the woman was the mother of a Jeppe Boys’ student and that she witnessed him dying on the sports field after being accidentally impaled by a javelin. She committed suicide by jumping from a nearby hill. She was somehow decapitated and is said to roam the corridors of the school, holding her head while crying for her son.
1 Las Vegas High School, Nevada
Las Vegas is all glitz, glamour, money, and… ghosts. There are quite a few haunted places in Sin City, including Zak Bagans’ The Haunted Museum, Westgate, and The Luxor.
In 1931, the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts was known as Las Vegas High School. It was the first official high school in the city and the place where the ghost of a former teacher, Mr. Petri, roamed after he died in a mysterious fire. Even after the school converted into the arts academy, rumors of the haunting continued. Some people reported seeing a man in a white tux occupying a particular seat in the theater, while others felt sharp temperature drops and experienced intense feelings of sadness and despair whenever they entered the building.
A teacher, John Morris, was skeptical about these stories, but he did admit to having a strange experience of his own. The high school once put on a play called The Spoon River Project, and the stage was set up with a fog machine and makeshift cemetery. The director of the play approached Morris and told him she saw a small naked Mexican boy standing right next to her during the production. The boy told her that he needed clothes before disappearing.
Morris rolled his eyes and tried to convince the director that it was all in her mind. The rest of the night went off without a hitch, and after everyone left, only Morris and his three-year-old daughter were left inside the theater. Morris was making sure all the doors were shut and locked before calling his daughter so they could go home. She was playing on a mound of grass used in the play and told her father she didn’t want to go yet because she was playing with a friend.
Morris didn’t see anyone, and believing she was talking about an imaginary friend, he indulged her by saying she could play for a few more minutes. His daughter then said, “It’s that little boy over there; he doesn’t have any clothes on.”