McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

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Haunted tales of Freshman Campus

Almost a century old, the building on the east side of town has some eerie stories attached to it. But is the Freshman Campus really haunted?
Rudy Culbert
With Freshman Campus turning 100 next year, students start to speculate what could lurk after hours.

Built in 1925, known at the time as East Campus, Freshman Campus as an old building is shrouded in mystery of the pressing question; is the school haunted? Reports of supposed hauntings spark curiosity amongst staff and students about “ghosts” that roam the halls.

Paranormal activity is particularly common in the Teaching Theatre, which is the epicenter of the original 1925 school building. In the late hours in the theater and the old choir room is where the most instances have happened.

“After everyone had left rehearsal, there were times when I was in one area or the other and thought I heard someone in the theater moving things around,” says Hiedie Dunn “But when I went up on the stage or opened the door to the attached classroom, no one could be seen”

Some students have also reported experiencing things that are out of the ordinary within the teaching theater.

“Some of my students have said that when they have gone into the wings from acting a scene on stage they have thought that there was someone standing in all the curtains, but when they part the curtains there is no one there either,” says Dunn.

The teaching theater is not the only place that has experienced paranormal activity, but the main gym has also experienced many instances.

“I remember sitting in my office and hearing an eerie sound and then a door slammed,” says retired East Campus counselor, Jill McEvoy. “Unfortunately I wasn’t brave enough to find the source. My only thought was, time to go,”

The spirits that are rumored to roam East Campus are not malicious but are passive. A particular ghost that people associate East Campus with is “George”.

A custodian named George who worked there, but he didn’t die on campus, was named Joe Knabe. Knabe was a member of the custodial team since 1984, however it is undetermined if Kanbe is associated with George Ambrust, another custodial member from 1972-1989.

“In the 80’s there was a super friendly custodian who worked at the back door and cafeteria areas,” says multiple sources. “He passed away suddenly one night at his home. After that people would occasionally report hearing singing and whistling in the hallways of the basement level. It has quite an echo in that area. The noise was always attributed to George, the friendly custodian.”

Although there are many instances of ghosts in the former East Campus, it is uncertain if these instances are mere coincidence or of something beyond this world. Is “George” the friendly custodian Joe Knabe who worked on the custodial team many years ago? Is the school really haunted? Reports of supposed hauntings will forever remain unsolved.

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