Hidden rooms on campus: the science hallway and the boiler room

January 12, 2011 — by Kelly Liu

Science Hallway:

Science teachers forbid students to enter what lies beyond their class’s back doors: the science hallway. The science hallway is a vast tunnel of assorted equipment, lab materials and chemicals.
About the only time students are permitted is when they are on fire or have come in contact with chemicals, at which point they are allowed to enter the hallway and use the nearby pull-down showers displaced every other classroom. Teacher’s assistants, however, who go back and forth to help teachers prepare for labs. Still, the science hallway is, for the most part, unknown to many students.

The hallway has tall wooden cabinets on opposing sides of the walls, containing equipment, replacements of glassware and lab materials. Past a locked, black room, there is a dim circular area, similar to a kitchen pantry, that has shelves of chemicals used for labs. The long hallway has big tables centered littered with multiple papers, binders and books, and freshly set up labs used for the day.

Because the science hallway is so vast, sections of the hallway have a poster representing that area—more specifically, Guantanamo Bay, the Bay of Pigs, Monterey Bay, and Amazon River Bay-sin.
Beyond the practicality of easy accessible equipment for labs, teachers and custodians have experienced paranormal activity in the hallway when they are staying at school late. “I don’t [believe in ghosts], but when you’re here at 8:30 [p.m.], you kind of do,” said science teacher Kelly Nicholson, who has encountered paranormal activity multiple times in the science hallway.

Her first encounter with the ghost was in 2007, when her husband was in graduate school and they carpooled. She would stay at school late at night and every night starting at 8:30 p.m., Nicholson would hear three, loud and deliberate footsteps echoing chillingly from around Thomson’s classroom in the hallway. Every time she peeked out to see who caused the sound, no one was there.

“Now if I’m here late and my computer prints to the laser printer in the science office, I crack the door and [say], ‘Um, is this OK with you? I’m just going to the laser printer and get my papers and I’ll be right back in my room,’” Nicholson said.

The custodians and the maintenance department members have also seen shadows and sounds in the school’s back parking lot and gym. According to Nicholson, the ghost is widely assumed to be that of former teacher Ray Goñi.

Goñi absolutely loved Saratoga High as a football and track coach in his years and died of cancer. Witnesses believe the ghost of Goñi walks to the school’s gym, cutting through the back parking lot and science hallway because the science building was not built during his time.

Boiler Room:

The boiler room is opposite of the Sports Medical Center building, right next to the school’s swimming pool. It is a tall building about 2,000 square feet with long narrow windows covered in cobwebs.

The windows are built high above the boiler room’s doors, meant to stream in sunlight into the musty and dark room and to not have passerbys’ look into the room. Everyone who walks by it seems to glaze over its mysterious and seemingly vacant presence. It is one of the original buildings of Saratoga High.

According to Brian Moran, the plant operations supervisor, the room houses two boilers that provides heat to the cafeteria, gym complex, faculty lounge and wood shop. In 1959, the boilers heated the entire campus. The maintenance department members used to visit the boiler room daily to turn the boilers on and off.

Now, the boiler room also is a storage room for risers used in the McAfee Performing Arts Center or the Little Theater for staging, electrical carts, the scissor lift, ladders, spare desks and wooden platforms that Redwood Middle School borrows from time to time.

“It’s a great space to have because it does provide us [maintenance department] some additional storage,” Moran said.