Do spirits lurk within the SHS auditorium?


An unidentified object, which resembles a face, appears in the distance of the fly rail in February of 2013. It is physically impossible to fit in the fly rail. According to theater teacher, Ms. Barbara Whitlock, it is the most dangerous place in the building. The photo on the right is an enlargement of the boxed section on the left. Photo taken by graduate Jaime Robbins.

Alicia Jones, Reporter

“I could hear running,” theater teacher Ms. Barbara Whitlock said, “then it would run back. I immediately assumed it was students messing around, and I said, ‘Hello?’ But it’s pitch black, and I’m like, ‘Hello?’, and it kind of stops.”

The auditorium, home of musicals, plays and coffee house, is the center of attention when it comes to strange things happening at SHS. Whitlock, who is in charge of everything theatre related, is no stranger, either, to the “ghostly” things that have happened since she’s worked here.

In the past seven years she’s been here, she’s encountered things dealing with the catwalk, hands hitting a window, figures in the auditorium seats and ghostly looking things in the fly rail.

During Whitlock’s first semester here, which was Jan. of 2007, a student of hers was getting up to leave when she noticed something abnormal. The clock, which is plugged into the catwalk, was spinning uncontrollably. It kept going back and forth by switching from a random time to the normal time.

“We called the phantom Larry because it was a spontaneous moment for me,” Whitlock said. “Ever since then, every time there’s a show, something happens. It’s clearly because that’s when we’re in here the most, and we notice it because it’s dark, and we’re not doing a show.”

In 2012, before the construction had even started, Whitlock got here at her normal time, which is 10 til six. With no windows or source of light, the theatre is completely pitch black with the lights being turned off. The light switch, though, is on the opposite side of the stage from Whitlock’s office. To turn the lights on, she has to walk across the stage in complete darkness.

One morning, when she was one of the only members in the building, she was doing her daily routine of walking across the stage when, halfway there, she hears what sounds like someone running across the catwalk.

“The thing about the catwalk is that there are foot long steel beams that come to my chest,” Whitlock said. “I’m short. If I were to run up there in the dark, I would be decapitated, or I would be for sure passed out and falling down. There’s no way you could run up there from one end to the other in the dark that fast.”

To cross the catwalk, one must do it very carefully. They’re used in shows for the stage crew to have easy access to maintain the lights and microphones directed at the stage.

“I go ‘Hey, listen, ghost, I’ve had it. Calm down. I’ve got a show in a week. This is going to stop,’” Whitlock said. “And it stopped. That was the one time I had talked to it because I had had enough.”

That same week, Whitlock had just gotten an iPad specifically for the theatre. Whitlock’s students noticed that she had no background or lockscreen, and Whitlock then told her students to go take pictures. Besides her and her students, there was nobody else in the auditorium.

They took photographs of random things, including the fly rail, which consists of many ropes that hold the curtains together. The next week, Whitlock was going through the photos that were taken and was paused on a picture of the fly rails when a student who was behind her pointed towards the edge of the photo asking who the person in the photo was.

“There’s the ghost,” Whitlock said. “It’s inside the fly rail. I don’t let students go there. I don’t go there. It’s the most dangerous place in the building. There’s no physical way, either, for that body to be there.”

During “The Wizard of Oz” last year, there was another ghost interaction, this time dealing with the crew, and, more specifically, senior Winnie Cleary.

After the Saturday show, about 20 or so crew members stayed after to play a calm game of capture the flag on the stage. When it was around midnight, Cleary was facing the balcony door that lead to the second story hallway while talking to Whitlock. Everyone was accounted for at this time, and during the conversation, Cleary saw a small hand hit the window and slowly slide down. She immediately started freaking out and then went with other students to check it out.

“At first I was thinking it was one of the theatre guys,” Cleary said. “Then when I realized it couldn’t be any of them, I got so scared I was in tears. When I went to the top of the balcony and looked at the door, there was a greasy handprint.”

Two days after the Saturday incident, another strange thing happened with Whitlock and a substitute.

It was right after the first period bell had rung, and in Whitlock’s first period class, she had a student who was hearing impaired. His interpreter ended up being absent that day, so he had a sub. The sub and Whitlock just so happened to know each other, and since the musical had just taken place the weekend before, the pit was still set up. The sub was sitting in a chair that faced both the stage and Whitlock, and while they were catching up, they both noticed at the same time a black shadowy figure right behind the sub.

“I thought it was the student she was interpreting trying to scare her,” Whitlock said. “Before I’m even saying, ‘Who’s back there?’ she already sees in it her peripheral view. So she stands up and goes, ‘Ronald.’ I go, ‘I think he’s going to scare you. I think he’s back there.’ Ronald was absent that day, he never even came to school.”

This interview happened during iPASS on Oct. 30, and the very next period, after claiming that there had been no more ghost encounters this year, Whitlock had something happen to her again, in which senior Laura Hill had also witnessed, calling for another interview.

During fourth period, Whitlock teaches tech theatre. She needed an umbrella, which was in the small props room, right next to the door where Cleary had seen the handprint. Hill and senior Darian Harvey go up there and look for it. They couldn’t find it, so they came back down and got Whitlock. Whitlock and Hill went up there this time, and while Whitlock was looking for it, she felt and saw two wine glasses on the shelf next to her rise up and hit her in the arm.

“These two glasses are together,” Whitlock said. “Like they’re taped together. They lift up an inch, hit me in the arm, then go back down. I looked at Laura and then went, ‘You did see that right?’, and she’s freaking out, and she said, ‘Yeah.’”

Whitlock says that when the glasses were set back down, she was able to see that they were set back down about an inch away from where they had previously been, due to the shelves in the props room being covered in dust.

“I wish I was kidding about this,” Whitlock said, “and it’s so funny because I said, ‘No, we haven’t really had anything’, and as soon as you left me [after the interview], that happened.”

Besides the wine glass incident, nothing ghostly has yet happened for the upcoming musical, “The Sound of Music.”

“I don’t think the ghost is ever trying to be hurtful or vengeful,” Whitlock said. “It probably was a theatre student in a past life and just wants to play, or is just some lost soul.”