Better Watch Out! Stuyloween Rises From the Dead

A look at some of Stuyvesant’s most iconic Halloween costumes and what plans students and teachers have this fall.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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By The Photo Department

Halloween is right around the corner! In the midst of quarantine loneliness, students may feel that celebrating Stuyloween is the last thing on their minds. To bring back the spooky spirit, here are some of the most iconic costumes students and teachers have to offer and a look at what’s to come this Halloween.

Computer Science Teacher Samuel Konstantinovich

If you’ve ever seen the Stuyvesant computer science department on Halloween, you know they always aim to impress. Computer science teacher Samuel Konstantinovich is no exception. As a Stuyvesant alum, he credits his commitment to dressing up for Halloween to his past Stuyvesant teachers who would put on a costume every year. “I would like to follow their lead for as long as I am able,” Konstantinovich explained.

As for his plans this Halloween…that shall remain top secret.

Since their freshman year, dressing up in matching Halloween costumes has been a tradition between juniors Melody Lin and Ellie Yu. In their freshman year, Lin dressed up as a bear, and Yu dressed up as a reindeer. “We thought it was super cute and comfy,” Yu said.

During their sophomore year, Lin and Yu decided to opt for a costume that would resonate more with them and the rest of Stuyvesant: bubble tea. With cylindrical protrusions sticking out of their headbands and fuzzy black circles attached to their shirts, Lin and Yu made quite the bubble tea duo.

Part of the reason Lin and Yu chose this costume was that the materials needed to create the costume were easily accessible. “We just attached a toilet paper roll onto a headband and cut out and glued the store-bought felt onto our shirts,” Yu explained.

The only trouble they encountered was in the makings of the costumes. Each individual circle had to be cut out individually and hot glue-gunned onto their shirts. “The process was very tedious,” Lin said. “But it was necessary because we wanted to make sure it didn’t fall off.”

Additionally, due to the wide variety of milk tea flavors ranging from taro milk tea to melon milk tea, choosing a bubble tea flavor or shirt color was a difficult choice. Ultimately, Lin wore a purple shirt to represent taro milk tea and Yu wore an orange shirt to represent Thai milk tea.

There are certain students that stand out in a crowd, and junior Emma Wong is definitely one of them! Known for extravagant, full-suit Halloween costumes, Wong dressed up as a clown freshman year and a hotdog sophomore year. She finds joy in dressing up for Halloween from her peers’ funny reactions. “It’s really fun to get into the spirit of the holiday, and it’s cool when people are entertained by my costumes,” she said.

Decked out in a rainbow duct-taped costume and rolling around a cart full of assorted candy, mathematics teacher Gary Rubinstein was a bizarre sight standing in line at Whole Foods last Halloween. That wasn’t the first time Rubinstein created buzz with his costumes, though. After dressing up for the past 16 years, Rubinstein is famous for his over-the-top and creative Halloween costumes, which range from a Citi Bike to a college rejection letter.

However, Rubinstein hasn’t always been crafting up the elaborate costumes he’s known for today. When he first started teaching at Stuyvesant in 2003, Rubinstein simply dressed up as physicist and mathematician Albert Einstein. It was only after seeing former computer science coordinator and “king of teacher costumes” Mike Zamansky paint his body green for his costume as the Hulk that Rubinstein decided to step up his game.

The following year, Rubinstein dressed up as the fictional character Ali G, played and created by actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who was on the popular show “Da Ali G Show” at the time. “Students really reacted to this costume, and this [response] started my string of 16 years of Halloween costumes,” Rubinstein said in an e-mail interview.

Rubinstein’s favorite costume was last year’s, when he dressed up as the Whole Foods screen that tells customers where to line up at the register. Since all of his costumes are handmade, it took Rubinstein considerable effort to construct the costume, and the process included programming an iPad app to stimulate the changing of numbers. “I also threw in some math concepts like ‘register Pi,’” he said.

Though Rubinstein’s costume was well-received among the staff and students, customers at Whole Foods were less impressed. “I was covered head to toe in rainbow duct tape and had an iPad screen on my chest, and not one person there batted an eye,” he described.

From an artistic standpoint, another one of Rubinstein’s favorite costumes would be a Citi Bike. Rubinstein went through several iterations of the design, which consisted of wheels and a toy character on the bike. “I’m really proud of that one,” he said. “It was instantly recognizable and something that nobody else thought to go as.”

Additionally, since Rubinstein is a mathematics teacher, he strives to incorporate aspects of mathematics into his costumes. Rubinstein dressed up as the math concept FOIL in 2010, a mnemonic for the standard method of multiplying two binomials. “The costume was tough because if people can’t figure it out, then it isn’t considered a good costume,” he explained. “But it has to be hard enough so that people feel satisfaction when they do figure it out, and that one went over very well.”

Despite the coming Halloween season being remote, Rubinstein is determined to preserve his 16-year tradition of dressing up for Halloween. So far, he’s decided on three options.

The second runner-up for this year’s Halloween costume was dressing up as a COVID-19 vaccine and creating a syringe costume. “I thought about it, but I feel like other people might be doing that also,” he said.

Similarly, the first runner-up costume idea was dressing up as comedian Sarah Cooper, who is famous on the short-video app TikTok for lip-synching President Donald Trump. “I was going to dress up as her and have a speaker play Trump’s voice, and I would be lip-synching,” he said. “The only challenging part of the costume would be having to memorize some of Trump’s interviews.”

As for the winner among the three options, “I’m going to leave it as a surprise what I actually go as,” he said. “I hope I don’t let everyone down. It is a lot of pressure I put on myself, and I’ve set up some high expectations and now I’ve got to live up to them. But when a costume gets a good reaction—like, for instance, the Whole Foods costume last year, that makes it all worth it.”

Halloween is a magical holiday. Teachers become Star Trek characters for the day, students become street snacks, and teachers and students are brought together through the shared celebration of dressing up for Halloween. While Halloween this year will no doubt look a little different, it seems the spirit of Stuyloween will continue to live on. What costumes will Stuyvesant be brewing up next?