Subscribe to our email list
Share this:
Elysian Charter School of Hoboken - A positively different public school.
School website: | To donate: Harry Laub, Ph.D., Director
Elysian Charter School
Weekly Newsletter

A Positively Different Public School

October 24, 2016         Vol. 12  Issue 7
Please note that the school newsletter is sent out on Mondays.  When there is a holiday, the newsletter is sent the following day.  Please send news to by 1:00 PM on Mondays.

The weekly newsletter is archived on Elysian's website,, so that you can always access both the most recent newsletter as well as all previous ones.
Harry's Corner
Helping Kids Through the Creepy Clown Epidemic
How the media amplifies the trend and why some kids are so scared of clowns
Halloween is a week away, but one disturbing trend has already taken over the news and social media: scary clowns. And it’s not all make-believe; sightings of creepy, threatening, even violent people in face paint and costumes started in South Carolina in late August, when kids reported clowns trying to lure them into the woods. In the months since there have been sightings of menacing clowns all over the country, and 12 people have been arrested, mostly for making clown-related threats to harm kids at schools or colleges.
Is this a rash of copycat behavior, or an epidemic of hoaxes — or both? Either way, the threat of malice has some schools and communities on edge, and kids are being told not to dress as clowns for Halloween — not even Ronald McDonald. And kids are asking parents whether they should be worried.
Fear of clowns
Clowns, of course, have been a dependable if perplexing source of fear for decades, with horror stories like Stephen King’s IT — a new movie is coming out next year — transforming children’s entertainers into sadistic murderers. But the fact is, clowns are frightening to many people even without the help of the King of Horror; they have a specific phobia of clowns, also known as coulrophobia.
What about clowns inspires such unease?
Some psychologists believe that the fear is in part due to the fact that we cannot read genuine emotion on a clown’s face.
“When you take away our ability to read someone’s expression, it’s disturbing because we don’t know what they’re feeling —are they happy, sad, angry? — what to expect, or how to react,” explains Jerry Bubrick, a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating children with anxiety at the Child Mind Institute.
Clowns are also often unpredictable and manic, which can generate apprehension, particularly in children.
“Fear of clowns really starts at a very young age, as young as four or five,” Dr. Bubrick explains. “What usually happens is a child is invited to a birthday party, and when they get there, with no preparation from parents, they see a freaky-looking dude wearing a wig, and big shoes, and a weird outfit, and a big nose, talking in a weird way, doing weird things.”
Some kids love it, he adds, but some get really scared, thrust into a situation with no explanation and expected to like it. “And those who are predisposed to anxiety have an even stronger reaction.” In fact, according to Dr. Bubrick, fear of clowns is one of the most common phobias in children.
Creepy Clown epidemic
As adults, clowns are thought to make us uncomfortable because they are look almost, but not quite, like real humans — a hypothesis called the “uncanny valley,” which applies to mannequins and human-like robots, too.
Our fear of clowns applies equally to garden-variety examples that aren’t secretly multidimensional ancient evil demons, like Pennywise from IT. So it comes as no surprise that media coverage of what’s being called the “Creepy Clown” epidemic has gotten our attention. Several elementary, middle and high schools went on lockdown last week in response to them new rumors and threats. And as the media continues to follow the story the risk of “behavioral contagion” increases — that is, copycat behavior inspired by media stories, whether they are true or not.
So children are asking parents what is going on, and whether they should be worried. What do we tell them?
First, it is important for parents to let kids know that most of the chatter about evil clowns is just that —chatter. The likelihood of your child seeing or being threatened by a menacing clown (“joke” or otherwise) is very small. If your child sees a clown, it is probably just a clown. Remain attentive to your children’s concerns, but not overly so.
What Can I Do?
If your child is fearful of a clown attack, or a run-in is reported in your area, here are some tips on how to help your child:
  • Be your child’s news source. However you decide to talk about clowns, fear, anxiety and the hysteria that surrounds us today, it’s much better for the child if you’re the one who tells them. You want to be able to convey the facts and set the emotional tone, and pass on any wisdom in a calm and authoritative way.
  • Take your cues from your children. Invite them to tell you anything they may have heard about clowns, and how they feel. Give them ample opportunity to ask questions. Be prepared to answer (but not prompt) questions. You want to avoid encouraging frightening fantasies.
  • Be realistic. Clowns aren’t “real,” and they’re not dangerous. A clown is usually someone dressed up in a costume with the intention of doing his job and entertaining children and families.
  • Be reassuring. Children are likely to focus on whether something frightening or bad could happen to them. So it’s important to reassure your child that it’s highly unlikely anyone will try to scare or hurt them, and mention the safety measures that have been taken to prevent this kind of thing.
  • Be available. If your child is upset, just spending time with him may make him feel safer. Children find great comfort in routines, and doing ordinary things together as a family may be the most effective form of reassurance.   
    Mark your calendars:  KUUMBA Day is Saturday, December 17
    More info to follow about the history of KUUMBA Day and ways in which you and your family can participate.  This will be Elysian's 19th celebration of the third grade's African Dance Residency.
    Elysian Music Video, "All In" 
    Last Thursday I posted a music video called “All In” that I made with my students and quite awesomely, over 23,000 people watched it in the first 3 days!!!  Here it is...
    Watch it on Facebook
    Watch it on YouTube
    The video aspires to take the generalized feelings of bleh and meh and grrr and yikes that the events of the past months have given many of us, and replace them with feelings of hope, joy, harmony and smiley face. Some viewers have even reported shedding tears (the good happy kind).  So whether you need to smile, happy cry or just groove to some funky music, please check out our video.
    The song is being released as a part of National Bullying Prevention Month, and I will be sending out a few more emails about this project in the next couple weeks.  If you want me to take you off the email list let me know, and if the video inspires you…. PLEASE SHARE IT FAR AND WIDE!!

    SCHOOL PICTURES will be available for online order in the coming weeks. Please look out for fliers coming home and/or school e-mail with the details. Picture Retake Day is Tuesday, November 15!
    A BIG Thank you to CITY RUNNING TOURS and Michael for the great tour of Hoboken this past weekend and to everyone who ran and toured!  See the great photo below.

    This Friday is the ELYSIAN HALLOWEEN PARTY, October 28 from 6:30 - 8:30 PM. in the school gym. We need your help for another great party! Please go to to volunteer and/or donate supplies. Reminder: NO clown costumes or play weapons.

    NO BRAINER MONEYMAKERS How to make money for Elysian Charter at no extra cost to you!

    -       iGive Button-

    -       Smile Amazon -

    -       Shutterfly/TinyPrints -

    -       Shoprite -

    -       Boxtops for Education – Clip and collect and turn into the main office AND download the app for even more boxtops rewards!

    City Running Tours
    News from Last Week's Friends of Elysian Meeting
    Thank you to the many parents who came to learn more about the Friends of Elysian at our meeting last week. As you may be aware, Friends of Elysian is the school’s fundraising arm, which helps to bridge the gap in state funding for facilities and academics. At the meeting, we gave an update on Friends as well as the Campaign For Elysian.
    Fundraising Update/Campaign For Elysian:
    As a reminder, Friends is the 501(c)(3) organization that is coordinating the donation and expenditure process for the Campaign for Elysian, the three-year campaign which also includes the PTSO and Elysian’s Board of Trustees. Our goals were $250,000 for Year 1 (2014–15) and $125,000 each for Years 2 and 3 (2015–16 and 2016–17). So, by this point, we had hoped to raise $375,000 for Years 1 and 2 combined; and we are happy to report that we have exceeded that goal, thanks to the generosity of so many, resulting in a tally of $420,178 for both years combined! (Year 2’s total was $153,207.)
    So how was the money spent? A considerable sum of Year 2’s funding went to utilities and services that Elysian previously didn’t need to cover in its annual budget. We were also able to support a vital new math program for our K– 5th grade students as well as helping to furnish the new Science Center. Lastly, because our families have been so generous in the first two years, we are on schedule to not only supplement the facilities costs, but to begin working with school leadership to identify other wish list items to enhance the educational experience of our children! 
    Overhead Costs Decreased: To ensure that the funding you provide goes farther, we also proud to announce that we were able to reduce overhead expenses this year. This means more of the dollars you have generously donated can go directly to helping our school.
    New Engagement: We are delighted to announce that we were able to continue to expand involvement in Friends. We welcome aboard new board members, Jenifer Semenza and Ann Murphy; and new voting members Sally Rutledge, Lisa Spear and Sara Green.
    And our officers for 2016/2017 are:
    Chair, Joan Spiegel
    Vice Chair, Harriett Fitzpatrick
    Vice Chair, Jenifer Semenza
    Treasurer, Jonathan Katell
    Secretary, Cynthia Ng-Villaluz
    (Our board also includes at-large members: Colin Cook, Clare Cook, Ann Murphy and Danny Spiegel.)
    Coming Soon! Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be gearing up for winter activities and of course Year 3 of the Campaign, so look for more announcements and specifics very soon!
    If You Were Unable To Attend: If you’d like to be involved with Friends or would like to receive any details of our work, please reach out to us at Detailed charts of the Friends finances, including the Campaign for Elysian, our 990s and other legal and tax documents are available at any time for members of our community.
    For Parents of Basketball Players
    Basketball season is just around the corner.  We have many students who are excited to play this year and we are hoping that the city will allow us to have more than one team at some grade levels.  
    Please make certain that you send in school form and that you sign up online with the city as soon as possible so that the city knows how many players we will have this year.
    Halloween Costume & Coat Drive at Elysian
    The York Street Project is a facility in Jersey City that houes, educates, and nurtures homeless women and children in Hudson County.  Hoboken's Girl Scout Troop 12001 is collecting gently used children's costumes and winter coats for adult women, children, and teens October 6 - 21.  Please find the drop off box in our school.  The Hudson School, Hola and Hoboken Catholic Academy are also participating in this drive.
    Elysian Collects Box Tops and LABELS for Education:  Look for the container near Deb's desk in the office!  Thank you! 
    As per state law, we no longer publish the exact location of trips for security reasons.
    Please read the calendar weekly, as changes are updated regularly.

    Monday, October 24
    • 5:30 - 7:00 PM, 3rd Floor, Elysian's High School Fair
    • 7:00 PM Board of Trustees Meeting
    Wednesday, October 26
    • 5th, 7th and 8th grades on a trip
    • 2nd grade trip
    • Amanda's first grade trip
    • Middle School Night, 6:00 PM
    Thursday, October 27
    • 4th grade trip
    • 3:00 - 3:45 Rugby Practice
    Friday, October 28
    • Community Meeting'
    • 2nd grade trip
    • Halloween Party. 6:30 - 8:30 PM

    301 Garden Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030
    Harry Laub, Ph.D., Director | | Phone:201.876.0102 | Fax:201.876.9576

    powered by emma