Halls of 'Haunted High'
MOUNT CARMEL - Ashley Schultz and Blaire Thomas walked slowly through the Mount Carmel Area Junior-Senior High School Saturday night, carefully stepping through the darkness, narrowly avoiding the strangers brushing by them. Just when they thought it was safe, one of the many terrifying creatures in the building jumped from a hidden corner and both girls released a shriek of fear.
Their scares were courtesy of the high school's Haunted High, which was organized by senior Luke Duceman and junior Johanna Rompallo.
The seventh annual student run-event, which was held Saturday and Sunday night, almost didn't happen this year. The teachers union announced Oct. 7 they would only be "working to rule," which meant they wouldn't be volunteering their time outside contracted school hours in protest of contract negotiations. They ended this policy Oct. 25.
While no teachers were able to assist the students, Superintendent Bernie Stellar said the event could go with the assistance of administration staff, which left Duceman, Rompallo and their volunteers scrambling to plan it all late last week.
Schultz, a senior at North Schuylkill School District, and Thomas, a freshman at Penn State Harrisburg, were impressed with the scary scenes spread across the building.
Thomas was most affected by Slender Man, an Internet creation depicted by a blank faced-figure in a suit and tie, and what Duceman calls "the spirit walker."
A dark hallway with no light with many wandering creatures gave Schultz the most chills.
"You don't know what was going to happen, you don't know where people were," she said.
Duceman agreed, saying the dark room would have scared him the most.
"You know something is there, but you don't know what it is. All senses are heightened," he said.
Rompallo said creepy children scare her, therefore her weakness was the orphanage with screaming little girls and macabre crayon drawings
Other features included the dot room where the spirits blended into the dotted walls and the court yard where a wandering camouflaged monster resided. They took their inspiration from various movies and fears people commonly hold.
The usual teacher advisors and many of the students volunteers from seventh through 12th grade had already made other commitments, assuming there wasn't a chance the show would go on.
"It was a bad situation, but we made it work," Duceman said.
The two-day event, which had 33 volunteers, brought in 250 visitors and raised more than $900 for a local charitable organization that has not yet been determined.
Tickets were $4 for adults and $3 for students.
Duceman thanked the administration - Stellar, junior high school principal Pete Cheddar and senior high school principal Lisa Varano - for making this year's Haunted High a reality.
"I'm so proud of what we have accomplished. I can't say it was as good as last year, but with the amount of time we had, it was fantastic," Duceman said.