There is a long-standing legend that McPherson Middle School is haunted.
Regardless of where the rumors stem from, four sixth-grade students in the Bullpup Scholars class recently set out to investigate.
Bullpup Scholars is a class at the middle school and high school level that allows students to learn independent of strict rubrics or syllabi. High-achieving students who qualify may choose to delve into almost any area of study by investigating, asking questions of professionals, participating in hands-on activities and presenting their research to the public at the end of the semester.
Sixth-graders Drake Langshaw, Jaron Oakes, Kali Casebeer and Mackenzie Oakes wanted to use the class to film a fictional scary movie, loosely based around the rumors at MMS. As they began to contact experts, they came in contact with the Wichita Paranormal Research Society.
The group is affiliated with The Atlantic Paranormal Society, the subject of the television show Ghost Hunters. The Wichita-based group agreed to investigate MMS in March and bring the students along for the nighttime excursion.
“I didn’t know if we’d get anything because I don’t believe in ghosts,” Jaron Oakes remembers thinking.
He, along with the others in his group, had never heard the noises themselves.
From 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. near the beginning of spring break, the group listened in the empty building.
Those accompanying the students and the Wichita Paranormal Research Society were Bullpup Scholars teacher Paul Carver, a few parents, and principal Brad Plackemeier.
The Wichita Paranormal Research Society used equipment that could detect electronic frequency, pick up more colors not seen by the naked eye and other detectors. The equipment was set up throughout the school, such as the teacher’s lounge, classrooms, and the auditorium. The group also spent time in the tunnels beneath the school.
“It was really kind of eerie at first,” Langshaw said. “Nothing was happening, and we were sitting in the dark.”
That didn’t last long. The students said after a while they began to hear noises, such as knocking on doors, voices, whistles and footsteps, and saw shadows and lights.
“Once we finally heard something knocking I was getting excited,” Langshaw said. “You heard more stuff and you got more evidence it was haunted.”
Mackenzie Oakes said she wasn’t surprised.
Kali Casebeer said she was scared at first.
“Then I kind of felt better because I knew they wouldn’t hurt us or anything,” she said.
Carver said he was pleased with the professional presentation of the Wichita group. He said they tried to educate the students during the investigation and make them a part of the process.
Page 2 of 2 - “I think when people think of ghost hunters coming, they think they will say every squeak is going to be a ghost,” Carver said. “No, they said it’s like fishing when you wait a long time for maybe a nibble. I think they did a good job of combining some scientific tools with the reality of what’s happening and looking for anomalies.”
Sherrie Curry, director of operations of the Wichita Paranormal Research Society, said they might have found some of those anomalies.
“I would say there is a possibility of paranormal activity in the school,” she said. “I wouldn’t say it’s dangerous at all. I think there’s something playful there that’s certainly catching some people’s attentions.”
It had indeed caught the attention of Sonnie Martin, a parent that went along on the nighttime investigation.
“If I had not actually been there and seen it for myself, I would have probably not believed what the kids where telling me,” she said. “But I was there, and I heard the noises, and I would say I definitely believe there’s definitely paranormal activity in the building.”
Jaron Oakes agrees.
“I do believe in spirits, but not all of them are harmful,” he said.
Since the experience, the students said they have a different view of the school.
“If the room is dark, it kind of freaks me out,” Mackenzie Oakes said.
“We’ve said to each other, nothing is every going to be the same,” Langshaw said.
Carver said the exercise aided student learning.
“I pushed it purely from the standpoint of getting them experience,” he said. “I think it was a really good time where they could see the school in a different way. It wasn’t sitting in a classroom; they could ask questions. A lot of it is about taking risks and asking the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’ and trying to find the answers, and this group has done a good job of doing that.”
The four-student group plans to make two movies out of their experience, which will be shown at this semester’s Bullpup Scholars showcase event from 2 to 5 p.m. April 24 at Central Christian College.
Contact Jenae Pauls at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel