JACKSONVILLE — Some bands sell chocolates to raise money, but not the musicians at Jacksonville College.
Students spent several weeks planning, orchestrating and building an elaborate haunted house in the former Joe Wright Elementary School building, 215 Kickapoo St.
The campus was given to the college by a philanthropist, and the Baptist church-affiliated Jacksonville College allowed the students to transform it into a haunted house before it began its own renovations to use the campus for instructional learning.
"Fright Night at Joe Wright" will open Oct. 24, and will take in visitors, at $5 a pop, each weekend leading up to Halloween and on Nov. 1.
There also will be a special Fall Festival on Oct. 30, in which children can go through the house in the daylight, and the monsters inside will smile at them and give them candy instead of jumping out of corners.
The haunted house features about 15 rooms and covers almost every phobia with spiders, clowns, zombies, werewolves and witchcraft.
Band Director Mike Kellogg said the storyline of the haunted house follows some of the history of the building.
Portions of the building were constructed in 1915, as the town's high school. The school moved in 1925 because of overcrowding, but the band students have given the campus a new history.
"In 1925, a train ran off the tracks and ran over the tracks and through (the school)," he said. "A lot of kids, staff and teachers (died). That's why they have the graveyard in the back."
The old courtyard playground will be full of graves of the "victims," and zombies. A legless security guard will chase people through the halls, and demons will watch visitors from outside, all while the school's intercom system carries eerie music into each room.
"The thing I'm most excited about is scaring people," said sophomore education student Amber Cooper. "I love it, I'm an adrenaline junkie. Last year I got punched in the face, elbowed in the chest and made three people pee themselves."
Ms. Cooper, a theater student, said this is her third haunted house to participate in, and her goal is to improve her scare numbers.
Ms. Cooper is dubbed the "mastermind of makeup," and will be in charge of painting faces and creating zombies. She also is taking charge of a demonic room, where a satanic ritual will conjure up a baby. She said Halloween is her favorite holiday
"I grew up with my parents decorating the house every year," she said. "They thought we grew out of it, but I never grew out of it. I'm obsessed with Halloween, the paranormal and all that kind of stuff."
Taylor Walding, a freshman trumpet player in the band, will play the part of a demented nurse who kills her patients.
"It's a lot of work, but it's fun because this is my old elementary school — it's turning the halls I walked down into a scary scene — turning my old classrooms into clown rooms," she said. "The nurse's office, the bed I used to lay in, will hold a bloody body that I'm stabbing."
The Mission, a faith-based food pantry and thrift store, also is getting in on the fun. The nonprofit will have a doll room with a live Chucky doll and his bride Tiffany.
The haunted house is not a "Hell House" portraying the consequences of sin, but it does end on a light note.
Instead of running away from men with chainsaws, attendees will hear about God's grace.
Kellogg said the flow of the haunted house would guide goers through demonic rooms and then to witness rooms, where Jacksonville College students will give a brief testimony of the Gospel.
"Truly, that's worth more than anything else we do, but we have fun doing (the haunted house and) setting it all up," Kellogg said.
Admission to the haunted house is $5 per person, and children must be accompanied by their parents to enter. Proceeds benefit the Jacksonville College band and missions.