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Zombies rule West Valley school

West Valley City School students, including Jaymee Finke, left, and Lacey Marrow, right, prepare for the school’s haunted house this Friday and Saturday. (Dan Pelle)
West Valley City School students, including Jaymee Finke, left, and Lacey Marrow, right, prepare for the school’s haunted house this Friday and Saturday. (Dan Pelle)

If you’ve been watching “The Walking Dead,” you probably know those zombies are pretty dangerous. Although, if they decided to take over a school in Spokane Valley, they may find themselves on the losing side of the battle.

West Valley’s City School, 8920 E. Valleyway Ave., will host its annual haunted house Friday and Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m. This year’s theme is Outbreak: Rise of the Zombie Hunters.

The school, which serves fifth- through eighth-graders, has been organizing haunted houses as its major annual fundraiser for the past four years. Students and parents spend countless hours planning, practicing and marketing the event.

Part of that marketing includes a video of a school that has been devastated after an accident in science class.

“Some of the teachers and students got sick,” says the film’s narrator. “But some changed.”

A former student of the school straps on her boots and loads a baseball bat into her backpack for the job she needs to do.

“Zombies rule this school,” she says in the video. “But we’re taking it back.”

Tresa Black, the creative director of the haunted house and a parent, said the school offers a flex class in the fall to help with the haunted house.

“It was high competition to get into this class,” Black said. It was limited to 20 students.

The goal is to make the haunted house look and feel as professional as possible. Black said they look into the science of the scare – what makes things scary, what doesn’t. They also find ways to keep attendees moving through the building. Students take a scare class to learn how to scream for a long period of time without ruining their voices. They learn stage combat and they take a safety class.

There are about 60 students playing zombies this year, about 15 are zombie hunters or survivors and six work the special effects. Ten adults are involved, too.

Each performer has a couple of roles during the night – they rotate through the haunted house to keep things fresh for the crowds. Black said in years past, some of the actors at the haunted house had to leave or take a break because they got scared.

“I love scaring people,” said Delaney Ennis, a seventh-grader. Delaney said she will play a menacing zombie outside the science lab and will spend time outside to scare people in line.

“It’s fun to scare the pants off someone,” said Jackson Hylton, another seventh-grader playing a zombie. This is Jackson’s third year participating in the haunted house. Last year, he played a tour guide who was stolen away from the tour during the school’s “Carnival of Nightmares.”

History teacher John Adams said City School has a goal of raising about $8,000 this year; last year it raised $6,000. Students at the school all get a book of passes to sell to friends and family, and tickets are also available at the door.

Adams, Black and the students all agree City School’s building adds to the creep factor every year. Built in 1908, students and teachers alike have heard rumors about hauntings. One persistent rumor is a story about a custodian who died in the boiler room.

Adams said he was once alone in the building and walked down a flight of stairs. When he reached the bottom step, he heard footsteps behind him, but no one was there.

“That was creepy,” he said.