by Sue Vachon, teacher
When you have a school that is over 100 years old, there are bound to be ghost stories that surface. This year at the Middle School, a group of talented writers gathered during their Exploratory sessions to explore the genre of ghost stories, while using the history of the school as inspiration. We began by consulting long standing SMUS faculty Peter Gardiner and Tony Keble ’62. The tales they told about deceased students, headmasters and school employees who are reported to still wander in our midst – as well as the trip to the bell tower in School House – provided fertile ground for the creation of some original hair-raising student work. The student’s writing skills were further honed by visiting Senior School teachers, which included Hinton Chair Susan Stenson, Jennifer Fraser and Robert Common. Each of these in-house literary experts offered tips on how to create well-developed characters and suspenseful atmosphere.
Here are a few excerpts from these talented students’ work!
“Creeeek! Creeeek! The footsteps resonated around the dining hall. Traveling down the lonesome stairs and into the boarding rooms, the noise awoke a young boy. He brushed a stray lock of fair hair out of his eyes. Pulling on an evening sweater he stepped silently across the room and stole away, into the night. He was never seen again.”
– Jasper, Grade 8
“For days, St. Michaels University School had been in the grip of a bitter winter. Covered in snow, it looked not inviting, or peaceful, but foreboding and gloomy, and the moods of its inhabitants reflected this. The sky remained forever grey, and the snow’s icy fingers ensnared students and teachers alike, darkening their moods, making their only escape that of their imagination. The bell tower in the centre of the campus stood tall, oblivious to the cold, and if you looked closely, you might make out the small, slight figure standing in the window. This figure was a Chinese chef, only newly arrived at the school, who often came here to think, or when troubled. He wore a plain brown vest, and corduroy trousers, as it was his day off, and cracked his knuckles, as he always had when plagued with worry and sadness. Shakily he descended the stairs and, unbeknownst to him, it would be the last time he did so alive.”
– Nick, Grade 7
“Why do I try? No one cares. Not one single man or woman in the world. No matter what I do, Boss isn’t happy. Boss, Boss, Boss. Why is it always about him? Why can’t I do what I want? I am cook, after all…”
– Jill, Grade 7
“Apprehension: anticipation of misfortune; suspicion or fear of future evil. A feeling of dread; an uneasiness. All in all, a cold feeling. The worst (but most necessary) feature of apprehension is that it is immediate — it spreads through your body like wildfire, so quickly that you can feel it before you know what is wrong. It’s an ingenious adaptation we as humans all share; it’s our personal fire alarm, if you will. Timmis shut the office door behind him and started towards his desk. It being a Monday, the office had an unpleasant chill to it from the weekend. Slight, but unignorable all the same. He promptly turned on the thermostat to an appropriate temperature, and then examined the contents of his office.”
– Ben, Grade 8