Asides: scary houses, homeless kids

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HALLOWEEN did its annual part last week in bringing out our inner scaredy cat, a job done well by the ScareHouse in Etna, which bills itself as "Pittsburgh's Ultimate Haunted House." It turns out that the ScareHouse receives academic help from sociologist Margee Kerr, 33, a part-time professor at the University of Pittsburgh and Robert Morris University and an employee of ScareHouse. As the Post-Gazette's Robert Zullo reported Thursday, the co-owner and creative director of the house of chills, Scott Simmons, says Ms. Kerr's visitor polling and research have validated his beliefs about what really scares people -- for example, killer clowns. "It turns out, people have always been afraid of clowns," he said. We knew it.

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WHEN IT COMES to scary stuff, imagine being a child who is homeless -- clowns might seem a relief for those kids, especially the ones trying to cope with school. Last week brought the challenging news that a record number of public school students have become homeless in Pennsylvania and the nation, putting them at greater risk of failure in their lives. According to data released by the U.S. Department of Education, the number of homeless K-12 students increased to 19,905 in the state last year, up from 18,531 the previous year. More than 1.1 million students are homeless in the nation. By one local estimate, more than 1,700 school-age children are homeless in Allegheny County -- proving, unfortunately, that there are scarier things than Halloween.

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