School District 13 has been a long time in the making. In 2004, Jennifer Shipp created her first haunted attraction on a farm in Grant, Nebraska. This haunt was called Cornstalk and if featured a corn field maze and three other outdoor haunts along with a small haunted village. The whole family helped put on the production, but over time it became clear that the location was less than ideal. In 2010, Jennifer, her husband John, and her daughter, Lydian decided it was time to move the event to the old school building in Brule, Nebraska.
Brule is the perfect location for a haunted attraction. The town is located along I-80, which makes it extremely accessible. The old school building had been abandoned for several years when the Shipps purchased the building. It was filled with 2 tons of trash that John and Jennifer removed by hand over the first several months of ownership. They piled the trash outside and then loaded the 2 tons of trash onto a truck (also by hand) and hauled it to the landfill (where it was weighed and the immensity of the project suddenly became crystal clear).
The people who owned the school before the Shipps had cats and dogs alone inside the building while they were away for extended periods of time. In one room of the building, cat hair had to be raked off the floor and then three vacuum cleaners were burned up to extract the hair from the carpeting. In another room, dogs had been left for days? weeks? on nothing but a thin covering of cardboard. The hardwood floors had to be sanded down to rid that room of the stains and the smells. Rumors around town were that a dead cat was dragged from the building by squirrels. The Shipps were never able to verify whether the rumors were true or not, but after years of working on the building, the rumors seemed plausible.
Upon first moving into the building, the Shipps fed a water hose through a window and lived out of their RV to renovate the property since the plumbing had been destroyed. Often, they would hear children laughing, usually in the common area outside of the girls and boys restrooms on first floor. Lydian refused to walk down “the long hall” where a man was often seen leaning against the wall. The boiler room and coal shed were paranormal hot spots of activity. On third floor, the Shipps would see a man in a white t-shirt checking in on their renovations. Certain times of the year, especially during the fall and winter months, there is a lot of activity in the school. A psychic once told the Shipps that there were many spirits trapped inside the building, but that most of the spirits don’t live there. They simply visit, coming and going as they wish.
Originally, the Shipps planned to only offer a haunted attraction at the old school, but they saw that the entire community could benefit from the event if they created a haunted village. Since that time, the event has grown considerably and School District 13 has become one of the most popular haunted attractions in Nebraska and eastern Colorado. And there’s still room to grow even more! In 2016, the Shipps bought a bus to transport patrons through town to the different haunts and reconfigured the old bus stop into The Detention Fields, an outdoor haunted attraction to complete the package.