Published in Oct. 2010
By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
South Padre Parade
Gathered in a circle and asking God for protection, several individuals – some who met for the first time on this night – prepared to enter a place that many have long believed haunted.
It was Saturday evening, the location was the old Berta Cabaza Middle School, and the people were real life ghostbusters.
Victor Perez, one of the founding members of RGV Paranormal Investigations, said the school piqued the group’s interest after hearing from many residents who live nearby. Apparently, people’s ghostly tales of shadowy figures roaming the old campus’ halls and sounds of children playing basketball inside the gym, not to mention the several articles and a DVD special produced by the News since 2006, were too much to pass up for this group.
It was Perez and fellow co-founders Thomas Hotcaveg and Bonnie Salazar who ran the show that night, but joining them were several other paranormal investigators – some who considered themselves mediums and others acting solely as photographers. Everything from digital cameras to infrared and night vision equipment was used during the group’s investigation of the old school, which was built around 1930 initially as San Benito High School. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that it became Berta Cabaza Middle School before its closure in 1998.
Armed with the school’s vague history, several willing participants and their hi-tech gear, the group entered the school at approximately 9 p.m. on the evening of Oct. 2. Though the temperature outdoors was cool, the interior of the archaic structure was quite warm without power. One classroom was filled with at least a foot of water (apparently from a leak somewhere in the room) and others that once represented bathrooms, a library, and offices were a mere shell of their former selves. What was left are rodents, graffiti from previous Halloween events, props left behind by law enforcement officers conducting training in the facility, and obsolete classroom materials.
The once proud school reduced to storage.
It’s no wonder how rumors of ghostly activity have run rampant there through the years. However, Perez and the rest of RGV Paranormal Investigations believe they’ve found proof of an eerie presence (or two) at the school.
“We saw movements and shadows, children playing up on the second floor of who we get the feeling were from another time, and in the gym we had so much activity. Photos taken inside the gym show ectoplasm, possibly of people playing basketball,” Perez said of the group’s findings.
He added, “We also think we might have a couple EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recordings, but we need to see what’s going on in the background to make sure it wasn’t noise we were making. What it does sound like are a couple of growling noises in the gym and someone saying something to the effect of, ‘Coach, are you here?’”
Concerning the gym, RGV Paranormal Investigations co-founder Thomas Hotcaveg concurred with Perez’s assessment. “My personal opinion is I felt more activity in the gym, but we’re still going over evidence,” Hotcaveg said.
When asked for his overall view of the old Berta Cabaza Middle School, Perez said, “Like any other place, obviously there’s activity. Some places have more activity than others. But I feel there is happiness and good tidings here, it’s not always evil. In fact it was pretty neat.”