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The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


Stephenson and Donahue set up scaring success at Hell’s Gate

Teah Stevenson
Seniors Teah Stephenson and Lauren Donahue get in costume and makeup ready to scare haunted house goers this season.

As Halloween approaches quickly, many teenagers are making plans for the perfect spine-chilling fall activity – haunted houses. The thrill and fear that comes with walking or running through a haunted house is on brand for the spooky season. However, some students opt to do the scaring rather than being scared.

Senior Teah Stephenson and senior Lauren Donahue work at Hell’s Gate Haunted house as scare actors. This is their first year at this location after working at Disturbia Haunted House in previous years. Donahue describes how she got into the haunt industry.

“I didn’t even know it existed until Stephenson brought it up to me… we had to do an audition, they started calling out random things and you just had to act on what you thought was right,” Donahue said.

The job of a haunt actor doesn’t come up often in high school, so having such a unique job sets Stephenson and Donahue apart from many working teenagers. Both work at Panera in their limited free time, a haunted house job offers a break from the food service industry.

When you say you work at a haunted house it definitely catches people’s attention. Most people don’t understand haunt acting so you get to explain it which is fun.”

— Stephenson

Along with the job of terrifying guests, frightening costumes and hyper-realistic gore makeup comes the long hours. Working 4:30-11 p.m. most weekends, Donahue and Stephenson make the half hour journey to Lockport to continue their passion.

Their job changes each week. Stephenson and Donahue get to experience different haunted roles to play in an attempt to scare guests. Each role is very different and requires a lot of focus to deliver it successfully.

“For the past couple days I was acting as an orphan so I have been going kind of crazy and jumping out at people trying to get good scares. I do find it enjoyable when people scream at me and I try hard not to laugh,” Donahue said.

The two only being at Hell’s Gate for a few weeks now have already begun making new relationships. Working with not many other teenagers, Donahue and Stephenson are able to connect with other people that share similar interests.

“My favorite part about it is that it’s so unique and different and there’s surprisingly a lot of people within it and a very supportive community. So I really love meeting new people and scaring people is also really fun but it’s so much more than that,” Stephenson said.

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About the Contributor
Grace Rerucha
Grace Rerucha, Features Editor
Senior Grace Rerucha is a Features Editor for the DGS Blueprint. Rerucha is a member of the Fillies, as well as dancing at her studio, DLD Dance Center. In addition to her roles as student council vice president and orchesis officer, she participates in National Honors Society, madrigal choir, the spring musical and PE leading. Rerucha’s interest in journalism sparked after taking Journalistic Expression her Junior year. She immediately fell in love with the class and wanted to continue to share other people’s stories through journalistic writing. While she has always enjoyed English, the class allowed her to explore a brand new style of writing. In her free time, Rerucha loves to hang out with friends, spend time with family and shop at her favorite store, Target. She enjoys dancing at football games this fall and prom in the spring. This year, she hopes to showcase her creativity and develop her own unique style of journalistic writing.

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    JeanneOct 12, 2023 at 12:27 pm

    Great article!