As October comes to a close, Thacher’s supernatural and paranormal entities creep their way back into the bounds of Perimeter Road. The stories and accounts are numerous – and although the validity of the eerie explanations can be questioned, Thacher’s ghost scene certainly warrants a closer look.
The most well-known and oft-recorded ghost that allegedly inhabits the Thacher campus is the infamous Upper School Ghost. The tales and lore surrounding this ghost evolve and differ depending on the source. It is confirmed that Mr. Marvin Shagam – former Upper School dorm head, teacher of a multitude of classes and suspected intelligence operative – would buy a steak dinner for any student who could last an entire night spent in Upper School over vacation.
The numbers are again varied and differing, but general consensus is that the number of those successful in this endeavor is low. Michael Mulligan, Head of School, reported that Rachel Oxley, CdeP 1989, was among the few and also had a personal encounter with the ghost. According to Mr. Mulligan, while she was sleeping in one of the rooms a ghost came into the room at around three in the morning and held a pillow over her face, holding her down for a significant amount of time.
Mr. Mulligan has his own interesting relationship with the paranormal. He is vehement in his belief that ghosts do exist, and stated, “I know I’ve seen two ghosts.” He elaborated on his paranormal theories – including that ghosts are people who don’t know that they are dead and that trauma locks them into this plane of existence. He also described his two run-ins with the dead: one ghost at his ex-girlfriend’s house and the other who appeared as an old woman with a stroller he saw on a run.
As far as the school is concerned, Mr. Mulligan was hesitant to disclose all of his knowledge regarding the supernatural presence at Thacher, as he fears it would be too unnerving for students. In particular he would not clarify which room in Upper School is the haunted room, but did confirm its existence. Mulligan stated that he was aware of many incidents in Upper School involving furniture moving, windows opening and closing, clothes being rearranged and most frightening of all; a number of students who reported being held down whilst asleep – much like Rachel Oxley’s experience.
Other members of the Thacher community have reported similar activities around campus. Mr. Doyle communicated that whenever he is alone in the Development Office the building’s doors open and close themselves. He speculated that it was possibly the Upper School Ghost demonstrating some migration while the Upper School boys are at sports and riding.
Mr. Hooper reports an even more substantial account of the paranormal at Thacher. He claimed that he often sees ghosts, “Casper-like and spooking around campus.” He says the appear to be about seven years old, and are just “doing normal ghost things near the Pergola, Middle School and the Commons.”
Conversely, some students completely reject the idea of any haunting at Thacher. Truman Hanks, when asked whether or not he has seen any ghosts, responded, “No. But, I have been woken up by boys looking for the ghost.”
LEXIE KIRKWOOD ’14 & ARIANNA FINGER ’15