2 Nov 2006
Here lies Rachel
By TRISHA FAULKNER
Something about Springfield High School's basement feels a bit out of
It might be the massive, industrial doors that open to only cinder block
Maybe it's the underground tunnels that shrink "Willy-Wonka"-style from
good-sized hallways to tight spaces with barely enough room to crawl.
Or possibly, it's the random trapdoor, which leads from underground to
the school's "Student Store," that makes the space seem a bit unusual.
Though the school's boiler room and basement appear to be the ideal
setting for a horror flick, students and faculty alike at SHS will tell
you one quirk of the school stands out by far.
That "quirk" has a name ? Rachel ? and she is described as a small,
blonde girl in a light, sometimes flowered, dress, often found roaming
the corridors of the nearly 100-year-old building after hours.
And, oh yeah, she's dead.
But for at least 20 years, students and faculty have kept the story of
Springfield High's resident spook alive. Many have reportedly seen
Rachel walking the hallways, heard the light patter of her footsteps and
felt her "presence."
"The story of Rachel gives this building a little more character," said
history teacher Joe Bunch, recalling the many nights he's spent in the
building grading tests or after late-night track meets. "It's kind of
cool, especially this time of year."
In the late 19th century, Hutchinson Cemetery stood where the
Springfield High School building stands. When the city passed an
ordinance requiring all cemeteries to be outside of city limits, all
bodies and headstones were supposed to be removed, many of them to the
current Oak Ridge Cemetery, Bunch said.
Apparently, at least one tombstone was left behind. Though nobody knows
for certain if it's Rachel's, a broken gravestone was unearthed when
workers dug an elevator shaft in the 1980s. The date has long since worn
off, but one side of the broken headstone reads: "Cut down but not
Throughout the years since the stone's discovery, students at the school
have investigated the origins of the tombstone and one group found that
a plot near where the elevator is located did belong to a young girl
named Rachel. No body parts ever have been found.
Bunch said he has seen and heard some unexplainable things in his time
at Springfield High, including loud noises in nearby empty classrooms
and even what appeared to be a little girl standing in the hallways one
"There could be lots of things that could explain it," Bunch said. "...
But poltergeists do exist. Maybe she's just having fun."
From the lighthearted stories, the tales do turn to the bizarre. When
the elevator, where the gravestone was found, was installed, it was "not
functioning" at first, according to various accounts Bunch has heard.
However, after hours, teachers would see and hear the "non-working"
elevator going from floor to floor, opening and closing.
For students, the tale adds to the character of the building, and a few
report that they've had their own encounters with the ghost, usually in
the hallways during late-night school activities.
Brady Kuntzi, a Springfield High senior, clearly remembers the first
time he heard about Rachel during his first baseball overnight in the
building when the team decided to check out the gravestone for
"We all went down there and checked it out," the 18-year-old said. "It's
a baseball tradition."
Though most students, like Brady, treat the idea of Rachel just as a
funny quirk of SHS, most agree that it does add something to the mystery
of the school.
"(The students) all want to figure out if it's real," he said. "She's,
like, the history of SHS."
Trisha Faulkner is a senior at Springfield High School. Send feedback to