|All photographs are of St. Elisabeth School, Van Nuys, California, June, 2014|
Schools are lonely places during the summer months, filled with ghosts and shadows and long graduated voices. Teachers pack away the books and pencils, grades are turned in, and the hallways and playgrounds wait for the fall, the time when education begins again for another year.
But what follows involves a mystery, something substantial in the ghostly haunts of empty classrooms. Below is a class picture from St. Elisabeth School in Van Nuys, which first opened its doors in 1928, meaning that literally hundreds, maybe thousands of students have traveled through its halls. In this class picture from 2002, a legend was born. Although many teachers and students claim the school is haunted, and back up their assertions with stories of ghostly nuns and figures wandering the halls, the picture below stands out for the extra figure standing with the graduates.
The picture is very wide, approximately twenty-four inches, so the frame above is only half the class, but for the spirit world, it is the most important half. Examine carefully the focused area below.
Between those two graduates, do you see anything? Let's zoom in for a closer look.
It is the ghostly figure of a man peering out between the two boys. He appears to be older, wearing a light-colored shirt and a beige coat. At the time the picture was taken, no such man was anywhere in the vicinity. In fact, the photographer and teachers made sure no one interfered with this special graduation photograph. Yet, there he is.
He appears in the black and white version as well as the negative shot.
In this version, though, he appears less substantial than the flesh and blood graduates.
Is it farfetched to think that the ghosts of teachers and students might haunt the halls of their alma maters long after the last notes of "Pomp and Circumstance" have died away? Human beings experience many things in classrooms. For many, those years might have been the best, or worst, time of their lives.
So we say goodbye to books and lessons, we put away our uniforms and school shoes. September is far away, and ahead we see only the days of summer. Another year ends. The school hallways are empty of the living; the ghosts, however, are free to roam where they will.