It is human nature to be fascinated by ghosts, spirits, and all things supernatural. There have been movies filmed, books written, and famous legends created all about these preternatural occurrences. What many people don’t know, however, is that our very own West Potomac campus is full of these riveting ghost stories.
Students and teachers volunteered to lead “Ghost Tours” around campus during Wolverine Time on the week of Halloween this year. On the tour, participants learned about the Quander family, one of the first African-American families recorded in North America and the namesake of our main building.
Little known to many of West Potomac students, one of the Quander descendants died as a baby and was buried on school property. This “baby grave” is enclosed by a wire fence and is the last stop on the tour as well as the favorite part for junior tour leader Sarah Lore.
“The baby grave is a real grave near the senior parking lot and I feel like everyone is really surprised and shocked that is it a real thing that we have.”
The engineering classes were involved in the festivities by constructing a contraption to mimic “the girl in the ceiling,” and give the tour-goers a good fright.
“It always scares people,” laughs Lore.
Some of the ghost stories were humorous and lighthearted. For example, tour leaders acclaimed the littered cigarette butts around campus to the vengeful nature of the tobacco-loving Powhatan spirit Okinus. However, some of these stories carry real importance.
“A lot of the stories, like about the Quander family and Spring Bank farm are actual real history. It includes the emancipation proclamation and how the Quander family was one of the first black families to be freed in America. I think it’s important to know what’s happened at our school,” says Lore.
The Quander family were slaves that housed Union soldiers during the Civil War in exchange for learning how to read and write. When the Emancipation Proclamation was created, the Quander slave owners assumed they were illiterate and refused to free them. Being, in fact, literate, the Quander slaves read the Emancipation Proclamation and were freed; all of which happened on school property.
Henry Quander continued working on the farm for a salary. They made enough to buy the farm, which they named Springbank, the namesake for our arts building.
Seniors Nick Hogan and Jeffrey Petit-Freres, adamant believers in ghosts, claim that 95% of the West Potomac stories are true.
Needless to say, the fascinating origins of our school are very surprising. These tours bring awareness to the rich history our school has to offer — so don’t miss the third annual West Potomac Ghost Tours next year.