Ind. SRO, students bond through paranormal club
Peter Ghrist, the school resource officer for Griffith High School, says the group averages about 100 members a year
By Anna Ortiz
MUNSTER, Ind. — While Halloween may be over, the search for the paranormal continues for a Griffith police officer and his group of ghost-loving students at Griffith High School.
Peter Ghrist, the school resource officer for Griffith High School, has led the Griffith High School Paranormal Society since its inception in 2013. Since then the group has done more than 50 investigations in places renowned for their paranormal activity.
Lake of the Red Cedars Museum, Franklin School, Old Lake County Jail, Buckley Homestead, Old Lake County Courthouse, Redar Road, Gypsy's Graveyard, Inn at Aberdeen, the 1859 Wolcott House and more are among the group's regular haunts.
It started out with 50 members five years ago and now averages up to 100 members every year. The group is open to those age 15 and older.
“This is definitely one of the most popular clubs in the school,” Ghrist said.
“It's a very popular subject on television. Kids are into anything that's exciting or interesting. There are times when it can be a real adrenaline rush at some of these places. Students are into that kind of stuff.”
For November, the group has two investigations scheduled at Valparaiso's Memorial Opera House. Ghrist said there are anywhere from two to six supernatural outings each month. Ghrist said as odd as it may sound, ghosts bring the teens together.
Club unifies different students
“There's a mixture of kids who might have never hung out before, which is really cool because sometimes you see them sitting together the next day at lunch talking about it, which is great,” Ghrist said.
“Some people might be into sports, other people might be into drama or into band, and they're all hanging out with each other on these field trips.”
When it comes to paranormal investigations, a good “ghost hunter” never enters a place empty-handed. Ghrist said he's been collecting instruments for the past six years, from devices called Electronic Voice Phenomenon, or EVP, recorders that can pick up voices inaudible to the human ear, to sensors that can detect movement of spectral apparitions. These devices help the group gather evidence of supernatural activity.
At one point, the group picked up a ghostly female voice that said, “Help me,” on a recorder. There's also been shadow-like apparitions that have appeared on photos.
“Things have been pushed off tables, and lights have been flipped off and on in rooms,” Ghrist said. “Luckily we haven't encountered anything evil. Mostly it's someone brushing up against your shoulder or bumping into you.”
History lessons as well as chills, thrills
However, it's not all tingles and scares. The outings also explore Northwest Indiana's vast history and even contribute to the sites. Ghrist said the students donate money to the restoration of historic locations they visit and have donated more than $1,000 to the restoration efforts of the Old Crown Point Jail.
“That's part of this as well,” Ghrist said. “I actually give each student an information sheet that says the history of the location, so there's an educational part to this as well. I think the students find it interesting to learn about places they drive by every single day.”
Ghrist said his role in the paranormal group has strengthened his bonds as the school resource officer with students. Ghrist, an officer for 15 years, has been the school resource officer for the past nine years.
“I'm a strong believer in the saying, be who you needed when you were younger; that's my favorite saying, and that's what being in this position is all about,” Ghrist said.