Haunted High brings creepiness to the classroom

A chainsaw-wielding madman is just one of the creepy sights at Oconomowoc’s Haunted High. Photo courtesy of Tamara Hauck.

As if high school wasn’t scary enough, Haunted High adds chills, thrills, ghosts and ghouls to the experience. This October, the haunted high school opens its doors for its fourth and final year, looking to scare and excite visitors while at the same time raising money for the Oconomowoc school district.

Located in Oconomowoc, Wis., with over 80,000 square feet of space, Haunted High is the largest haunted attraction in the state. While most haunted houses take place in warehouses or other empty spaces, Haunted High is set in an actual abandoned middle school.

The idea for the project came from a group of people looking to raise money to give back to the Oconomowoc Area School District. They wanted the teachers and schools to receive materials and new technology to better the system and improve education for the students.

“The district had a 100-year-old abandoned middle school that had many stories of former students and teachers haunting it,” project manager Tamara Hauck said.

A group of community leaders got together to try and brainstorm ideas and came up with the haunted school to fill both their fundraising needs and the lack of Halloween attractions in the area. The project also made use of the rich historical building that was right in their town.

Haunted High takes visitors on a 30-minute walk through all the scares in the school. It has more than nine “zones,” which transform aspects of everyday school life into high school horrors. There are mazes, a “cannibal cafeteria,” an old gym and a mad-scientist teaching chemistry. And of course, it all ends at prom. Visitors get spooked thanks to special effects and groups of volunteers and actors. Haunted High promises to offer a different experience every night and has attracted more than 15,000 visitors throughout the years.

“It’s quite the attraction, but you also see the old, real school,” Hauck said. “But now it’s just very bloody and haunted.”

Haunted High is in its “graduation” year because the building has been sold and is set to change hands, making this the last year that the school will be open to the public as a haunted house. The project has been a huge success. Over the course of its four year run, the haunted house has raised more than $150,000 for the Oconomowoc Public Education Foundation and the school district.

Even though the building has been sold and will likely have a different use in the future, Hauck said “people in the area are always going to think of it as the haunted house, because it’s been such a huge success in the community.”

The Haunted High is open every Friday and Saturday until Oct. 27 and is also open Thursday, Oct.  26. Tickets go on sale starting at 6:30 p.m. and cost $15 for regular visitors. However, on Oct. 25 and 26 there will be a special rate for Marquette students, which will save them $3 if they show their Marquette ID. The attraction is located on 550 E. Forest St. in Oconomowoc. Visitors to Haunted High should be prepared for some frightening sights and be 14 years old or older. However, there’s a special “Lights On” day for those who would rather not discover all of the haunts within the building.

This Oconomowoc middle school has a long history, and it is rumored that more than just actors and special effects chill its visitors. When asked if it’s really haunted, Hauck replied, “Well, that’s up to the people who walk through it to decide.”

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