A Vacant School Not All that Vacant

A Vacant School Not All that Vacant

Kristin DiPede, Writer

A vacant school is not as empty as thought. Elizabeth V. Edwards School in Barnegat, NJ is claimed to be haunted. The school received enough attention to be featured on the Syfy Network show, “Ghost Hunters,” airing on October 15.

The building has remained vacant since 2004, when it closed. Bill Cox, transportation and security coordinator for Barnegat schools, was the first to experience the paranormal activity occurring inside the school. Cox told Asbury Park Press that the school ceased holding classes because it became too expensive to upgrade and sustain school codes.

Only staff and local community groups met there shortly after closing, but eventually the school became boarded up to prevent vandalism. As a retired New York City homicide detective, Cox took the job in 2006, even after he heard rumors of the school being haunted.

An alarm inside the Board of Education office next to the abandoned school went off at 2 a.m. and soon became Cox’s first haunted experience of the school. As he was leaving, he recognized the second floor lights were on inside the school, but left them on overnight to shut off later that day because it was rainy and too early to go back. When returning in the daylight hours, the classroom had no light bulbs installed and they were all laying on the floor as they had been for about a week , the former detective said.

Art Walshe, a maintenance worker in the school district, worked on renovations inside the school alone for about two years after it was closed. At about 10 p.m. on an evening in 2006, Walshe was standing on a ladder above a door outside the school’s auditorium. The care keeper  told Asbury Park Press, “I started hearing a creaking sound. I look downward, and I started to see the door moving below me. That really scared me. I couldn’t even climb down the ladder. I literally slid down.” After composing himself, he returned to clean up and discovered his ladder in a different hallway. For him, that verified  that the Edwards school was indeed haunted.

Walshe faced the same issues during the day shift. As he was working in a hallway he heard a phone ring. The sound led him to the principal’s office which contained an ancient rotary phone lying on the floor, not plugged into the wall.

The former assistant of security for the school district, Thomas Topoleski, heard noises coming from upstairs while operating inside the school building. When he reached the upper level, he then heard 1940s music playing downstairs. Back downstairs the music led him to the basement, which he knew had been flooded. “When I opened the basement door, it stopped,” Topoleski stated to reporters.

Another strange aspect are the words, “help me” written on two of the school windows. How that located there is unknown.

According to Cox, Edwards was Barnegat’s “original schoolmarm” and well-known educator in town up until her death in 1965. Therefore, the school was named after her.

Cox told Asbury Park Press, “We don’t know if Lizzy (Edwards ) is haunting the school, but if she is, she’s a good ghost.”