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Campfire 7: School Spirit

*SPOILER ALERT: The following blog contains spoilers for Campfire 7. Before reading, be sure to listen to School Spirit. Afterward, feel free to check out this "Behind-the-Campfire" blog for additional info and photos! And visit our Patreon page for more extras!

Photo Info:  Metz Elementary School, photograph, Date Unknown; University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.
Photo Info: Metz Elementary School, photograph, Date Unknown; University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

Metz Elementary is one of Austin ISD’s oldest schools, established in 1916 on Willow Street in East Austin. At that time, this area was considered to be on the outskirts of East Austin. The School Board that year decided that Spanish-speaking students in that area should attend a separate school where their needs could be better met. In an unprecedented move, many of the Mexican-American parents protested this decision and appealed to the school board to change their decision. The other school was several miles away making transportation extremely difficult and the parents felt that if segregated, their children would not have the same opportunities as the English-speaking students. The School Board quietly dropped the issue and Spanish- speaking students were allowed to attend Metz Elementary School.

Metz Elementary continued to serve students in the community for the next 7 and a half decades. Just imagine, this school was educating our youth during the First World War ( 1914 -1918 ), World War II (1941-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953), and the Vietnam War (1965-1975). This school was witness to 14 different Presidents during that span of time.

In 1989 the school was deemed to be too small and too dilapidated to fit he needs of the community. The old school was demolished in September 1990 and a new school was built in its place and opened in 1992.

Today, Metz is rumored to be the most haunted school in Austin. So much so that when you search Metz Elementary on the internet, some of the first things you’ll see pop up are the articles detailing it’s long-standing haunted history. Tonight we’ll hear from former teachers, students and even those who once stepped foot in the old building, and the countless unexplained experiences they had in this historic school.

Danny, former Metz Elementary student, shared this YouTube link with me. It has the segment from the "Haunted Lives" television episode detailing the events the demolition crew experienced during the attempted tear down of the original Metz building in 1990.

In the video, you'll see psychic Elaine Ireland called to the construction site to communicate with the spirits. Surprisingly, I was able to track Elaine down. She still resided in Austin as a working psychic and medium. She shared all her vivid accounts of her time visiting Metz and cleared up some aspects of the reenactments the tv show got wrong.

But nearly 30 years following this experience, Elaine would join me in walking the halls of Metz Elementary on August 6th, 2019. Below are photographs my wife Thao captured during our brief visited to the campus.

Elaine makes her way down the halls of the new Metz building, erected since 1992, for the first time. She visited this site, when the old building still stood, nearly 30 years ago. She came to attempt to help the demolition crew get answers as to why spirits of children on the grounds and in the old building were trying to thwart the crew's efforts to demolish the old building.

In the library, Elaine and staff crew emotional as she repeated the word "Respect" several times. She felt this word strongly in this room and knew it was the children showing her they learned a lot about respect in this very room.

Above, Elaine and I stand in the very room one of our guests on this episode had. Melanie's Kindergarten classroom was full of boxes ready to be unpacked for the new school year starting soon. Elaine felt the energy in the room and we all witnessed an odd phenomena occurring. The ceiling fans, although with the switches flipped off, were moving in opposite directions and at different speeds. One fan would actually stop moving entirely, then slowly start back up again. It was all a bit peculiar. Can't say if it was paranormal, but definitely odd. I captured video of this activity on my phone.

Elaine explained to the staff present this day that the children were happy here. There was no reason to be afraid. If they made themselves known to anyone on staff, that just meant they liked them and felt safe with them.

We went to the art room as well and Elaine picked up a spirit of a little girl who seemed to like to be alone in that room. I could see the closet door where the skeleton incident happened. But that never came up with this spirit and Elaine.

Overall Elaine admitted the place felt at peace. The children were happy. And the incidents that once scared the workers demolishing the building in 1990 were isolated to then. It was because their home was being destroyed and they didn't quite understand why. However now, they had their new home and the children and former teachers and nurses who've passed on, come back on occasion.

Outside, Elaine took me to the spot where the construction worker lost his life in the wall collapse. She explained that the wall fell and did not explode on the man like the television show depicted. It's unclear if there was anything paranormal about the man's death, or if it was merely an accident. Elaine has her beliefs about the incident, but I decided to keep those private out of respect of the deceased man's family who still reside in Austin.

The City Council's all call for all artwork from all generations that attended Metz produced a lasting memorial that encircled the entire building now. Artwork was transferred onto small blue tiles and remains a permanent part of this new building.

The spirits of the past seem to be drawn to places they once loved and adored. Elaine believes many of the children who attended Metz in the past would have considered this school the safest, most comforting place to be. So it doesn't surprise her that staff and students still hear their laughter echoing through the hallways, even to this day.

Elaine is still a practicing psychic/medium, does private readings, and teaches on the subject matter. You can find her at

Danny who was featured on this episode is also a local Austin musician and you can hear his works at

Thanks and stay restless out there!

-Stephen Belyeu

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Jul 22, 2022

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