Ghosts of Central High School

I got permission to wander around the halls at what used to be Central High School, but I had to double pinkie swear that I wouldn’t show any student faces. That’s a big switch from the old days when you could shoot just about anything, but I agreed to the rule. I wanted to show those stairs we had climbed so many times, but a shot without students was dull and a shot WITH students would have landed me in detention.

You can click on any photo to make it larger. (If you see any recognizable faces, don’t tell on me.)

How to shoot a time exposure

This was my compromise. I shot a time exposure of the kids during class change. The pictures weren’t as successful as I had hoped – those kids cleared the halls way too fast, so I didn’t have time to experiment with settings.

To be able to shoot with a slow shutter speed, I had to drop my film speed down to ISO 200 and put my camera in shutter priority mode. That meant that I locked down two variables: film speed and shutter speed and let the camera control the lens aperture or opening (f/stop). The top photo was one second at f/11.

The light must have changed a little on this photo, because it had the same ISO 200 and one-second exposure, but the lens was at f/10. The one below was f/13.

These weren’t the only ghosts

The old stairs still made the same sounds as they did when we were there. They are as solid as ever. I hope the school board isn’t looking to turn it into a pile of rubble like Washington and Franklin Schools. If they try, I think they’ll have more than bees to contend with.

Terry Kitchen describes in a video just how unhappy the spirits were when he tried to move the old trophies out of our Central to the new school out in the hinterlands. You don’t muck with Central spirits.

10 Replies to “Ghosts of Central High School”

  1. What a neat idea shooting to create ghostly images. I’m sure we all would like to feel that our spirits still roam the halls of CHS.

  2. Loved the shots — brought back a lot of memories. Are they using the old CHS at all? If so, what is in there. Wish I could get back to Cape. I would like to see the new high school.

    1. The OLD CHS on Caruthers is being used as a Junior High School. It’s in incredibly good shape. The maintenance folks have done a great job keeping it clean and shiny.

      The new Central strikes me as a facility that emphasizes athletics over academics, but that might just be square footage and not reality.

  3. The old CHS building was built in a time when it was still in vogue to build to last. I agree that the Maintenance Crews over the years have taken pride in their work. Based on your shots, the place looks as good as ever. Everyone remember Cletus Poe? He was one of the nicest guys I ever met.

  4. Dave Farris had some classes on the upper floors and being wheelchair bound had to be carried up and down these steps. I was enlisted to help from time to time. There was no disabilities act at the time to provide elevators or ramps. I was proud to help. I hope his memories about the stairs are as good as mine.

    1. Janet Zickfield got to take the human elevator at Central, too. I don’t know how she liked the ride, but I think the guys who did the carrying were happy to help out.

  5. I have a couple of questions: What’s in the junior high building next to the old high school? I was in the 7th grade class that got to break in the new junior high. That would have been 1964, I think. We went to the old school on Pacific until the Christmas break, then when school started up again we were in the new building. If junior high is now in the old high school, what’s in the other building?

    Also, where is the new high school? I don’t get back to Cape very often anymore, but I’d like to check it out if I ever do. Thanks.

    1. “Our” Central at Caruthers and Themis, is now a junior high school. The school to the north of that building is a middle school.

      The new school is so far out west that I had to use a GPS to find it the first (and second) times. Unlike “our” Central that had clusters of families living close enough that they could walk to school and activities, this was has no neighborhoods to speak of around it.

      Instead of playing football at Houck stadium, which brought out of town teams into the heart of the city where visitors might be tempted to drive downtown to see the river and spend time and money with local businesses, this school has spent a bunch of money on a football stadium that will keep people and dollars clustered around chains near the Interstate.

      But, since I don’t live in Cape and it wasn’t built with my tax dollars, I guess I don’t have a dog in the hunt.

      Here are some stories I’ve done about the new school:

      Where it is.

      The band and football stadium.

      The library.

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