The ghastly ghoul that supposedly haunts the drama department


“I believe that Toby is real, not literally real, but what Toby actually is, and personally I believe it’s the spirit of every performer on stage,” said senior Ryan Palmisano, who recently starred as Charlie Brown in the play “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” which was put on the very stage Toby supposedly haunts. Photo by: Livia Vertucci

Livia Vertucci and Adi De Clerck

All about Toby the ghost who’s supposedly stuck haunting the drama department for eternity

For close to two decades, the story of the ghost of a teenage boy named Toby has haunted the drama department. “Toby the ghost is supposed to be a ghost that haunts the Ventura High School theater, and it’s been a long story before I was even here,” said Ventura High School Drama Department Head Stefoni Rossiter, who’s been in charge of the department for 18 years.

Rossiter, who’s heard Toby’s story retold by the drama department’s upperclassmen every school year, said, “The story that’s most often told to incoming drama departments goes like this, ‘Toby went to school here and there was some sort of accident in the theater and he’s haunted the theater ever since.’ What I do know is that when we researched it, we found some article from a long time ago and had something to do with a woman and that she had been seen in the theater.”

Senior Bre Roark, who’s been a part of the drama department since her freshman year, has heard Toby’s story many times. Roark said, “I’m super into paranormal stuff and scary stories. And while there is no actual evidence of Toby being a real ghost in the theater, it’s fun to believe and be a part of it.” 

Rossiter has also had some supposed Toby encounters. She said, “I’ve seen doors shut or whatever and I have been here many nights locking up and I have never run into a ghost, but I have seats go up, is that gravity? Perhaps. Was it a draft that pushed the curtain open? The scariest one I saw, as I was in the theater and everybody was there and all the technicians were there and the curtains were down. It was during a show and the technicians were on stage and I kept thinking I saw someone moving their hands along the back of the curtain and I kept saying on the headset, ‘tell whoever’s stage left to stop doing that,’ and they said, ‘Ms. Rossiter, there’s no one there.’ Then I was like, I am watching it. I was so mad.”

The story of a teenage boy who supposedly haunts the Drama Department has been told over and over for close to 20 years now. Drawing by: Belen Hibbler

“The story has stuck around so long because everyone in both the music and drama departments likes sharing the story from class to class. It’s a special story that holds so much meaning to those who hear it, and share it,” said senior Ryan Palmisano. 

Roark said, “I think it’s stuck around for such a long time cause it’s a part of our theater and our history and it gives people something to be a part of. We have tons of traditions and things in the department and it just wouldn’t be the same without Toby.” 

 At the beginning of every school year, new drama students are led into the haunted auditorium by returning drama students, where they hear Toby’s story for the first time. “I can tell you that in the department, it’s been a tradition to retell the story every year, and we haven’t told it in the last few years for various reasons, so I don’t know if we’ll bring back that tradition. Many students say they have felt things or seen things,” said Rossiter.