March 9, 2021

Haunted Schools

It seems as though schools are the place where urban legends really spread.

School is where most kids first hear about Bloody Mary and Candyman, but for some schools, these tales are more than urban legends. In some schools, many, including faculty, experience the strange and the unexplained.

La Preparatoria Federal in Tijuana, Mexico 

The Agua Caliente Hotel y Casino in Tijuana is said to be extremely haunted, it closed as a hotel and is now a high school. When it was a casino, it was an impressive place. It was built by three Americans and the main attractions were the price and the illegal activities. This was a place for gambling, drinking and vices. It was very successful until 1935, when President Lazaro Cardenas made gambling illegal and revoked the hotel/casino of its licenses. The hotel closed and became the Escuela Federal Preparatoria Lazaro Cardenas. 

When it was still the Agua Caliente Hotel y Casino, there was a famous flamenco dancer, named Esperanza Lopez, who was known as La Faraona. She lived and worked at the hotel. Versions of the story differ, but they all end in the same way, with her death at the hotel. Some say she was murdered by an English man, who shot her to death to steal her jewels. 

Others say that she was a dancer and the English man was her boyfriend and though she truly loved him, he was only interested in her looks and used her as a good luck charm while gambling. He would take her earnings with the promise of taking her back to England. One day, she became aware that he was just using her and didn’t actually love her. Distraught, she poisoned their wine cups, and they both drank from them. She immediately passed out on the floor and passed away and he ran out, yelled for help and survived. They say he left the city and never returned, as for La Faraona, they say her spirit can be seen where the garden used to be. 

Another version of the legend says that her English lover became her husband, and she was unaware he was part of Al Capone’s mafia. Though she loved him dearly, he did not feel the same and was only using her for her beauty. She realizes this one day and poisons them both. They both died and students and faculty at the school say they see her dancing in the halls. Some even say that if you follow her, she will lead you to their hidden treasure.

 Another more gruesome version of the story says that she was killed while performing, specifically beheaded by something that was thrown at her. Now students see her apparition in the girl’s bathroom and in a tower in the school. Sometimes her apparition is seen dancing and headless. 


El Paso High School in El Paso, Texas 


El Paso High opened in 1916 and was nicknamed ‘The Lady of the Hill’ because it is on a mountainside. It is considered a landmark and the most haunted school in America.

El Paso High operated as a morgue during both World Wars. According to hauntedrooms.com

The school’s immense and labyrinthine basement temporarily held bodies that were shipped into El Paso in the wake of the Spanish Flu outbreak and combat deaths from World War II until the next of kin could be informed.”

There is a lot of death surrounding this school. There are classes that are in the basement area that are just sealed off, adding a sense of mystery to the school.

According to borderzine.com 

“About 15 years ago, it snowed in El Paso to the point that schools were closed. A few teachers and students had arrived before the closure announcement. Those teachers and students who had been able to make it to school were not allowed to leave due to unsafe road conditions. Having nothing else to do, a group of students and teachers, decided to explore the school starting with the tunnels in the basement,” he said.

At one point, several of the teachers crawled through a small opening, eventually coming to a brick wall that blocked the tunnel. The bricks were old and the cement between them was crumbling, but it was clear that these bricks had been added long after the surrounding brickwork. Curious, one of the teachers pushed on the newer bricks until some gave way, revealing a large dark cavity. Pushing a flashlight through the hole, they discovered a sealed off classroom.

“This discovery surprised everyone as no one had even heard a whisper that there might be sealed off classrooms in the building,” said Tovar. The room was small and contained antique desks of the type seen in the television show Little House on the Prairie. There was no doubt that the classroom dated from the original construction of the building. The classroom was still set up with desks in place, texts and student notebooks still in place waiting for the students.

“There were Baby Ruth candy bar wrappers on the floor from a time this product sold for 5 cents as well as numerous 5-cent coke bottles. In one of the student notebooks lying on a desk, they found, in addition to algebra notes and completed problems, a very racy love letter from the owner of the book to a boy,” he explained.

There was a second sealed off classroom nearby, also ready to receive students, now filled with only dust and silence. They were never able to discover why the two classrooms would be sealed off, nor why they would not be cleaned of debris or student belongings.

People claim to hear doors slamming. They hear pep rallies and  games going on, only to discover that the gym is empty. 

There seems to be a female ghost presence at El Paso High. A teacher claimed that when he was about to go home he saw a girl with a blue dress standing at the end of the hallway. She looked saddened but as he looked at this girl he noticed she appeared to be made of mist, and she disappeared before his eyes. 

Many people witnessed this girl. It is believed that a girl died by suicide by on that floor. People still see a girl standing in the balcony and sometimes see her leap off of it. Kids who do go into the blocked area of the hallway say that there is weird slime on the walls and a mist that comes and goes.

There is a class picture taken in 1985, where a mysterious girl is seen in the group when people asked around who she was no one knew. Though there are claims that the girl was not in the original picture.

There was an incident that happened in the 80s where the 8th grade team had the gym for practice from 5pm- 7pm and one day just as practice was starting the doors violently flew open, slamming against the walls. The doors had to be shut by placing a heavy bench in front of it to stop it from opening.

Towards the end of practice, the bench flew across the gym and the doors violently opened again. The team was all made of up gang members and the coach Toby Tovar used to be a gang member himself, they were not scared of much, but that day they ran out of the gym, not bothering to turn off the lights.

During reconstruction of the auditorium, workers found books hidden inside the steps of the stairs . Each step contained one or two books. No one knows how they got there or why they were placed there. One of these hidden books was a Catholic encyclopedia, in good condition. 

There are countless tales about El Paso High and other haunted schools. Do you have any? Feel free to send them into Espookytales@gmail.com

Sources: 

https://www.sandiegohomegarden.com/2019/05/22/tijuanas-legendary-agua-caliente-hotel-and-casino/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agua_Caliente_Casino_and_Hotel

https://www.paratodomexico.com/mitos-y-leyendas-de-mexico/crimenes-y-ajusticiados/la-faraona-de-agua-caliente.html

https://es-la.facebook.com/507289185954401/posts/la-faraonaaqui-en-tijuana-baja-california-existe-una-leyenda-que-es-la-de-la-bai/812408142109169/

https://www.hauntedrooms.com/texas/el-paso/haunted-places/el-paso-high-school

http://sohosandiego.org/enews/0120mariafaraona.htm