Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 42
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
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PHS Celebrates Ties to University at Opening of New Media Center

Linda Arntzenius

Princeton High School’s new library and media center was officially opened last Friday evening, October 12. School supporters celebrated the culmination of a project that has turned the old auditorium into a state-of-the-art facility for students.

Bob Durkee, vice president and secretary of Princeton University and Kristin Appelget, director of community affairs, represented the University, which contributed $500,000 to the renovation, some 30 percent of its cost, according to Superintendent of Schools Judith A. Wilson.

Ms. Wilson, members of the school board, the Princeton Education Foundation, and the high school’s PTO, as well as school administrators, students and parents, joined Principal Gary Snyder and School Librarian Arlene Sinding at the open house reception.

In tribute to the historic links between the University and the high school library, a tableau of posters displayed period photographs with text supplied by Lisa Paine of the Princeton Education Foundation (PEF), compiled with help from the Historical Society of Princeton. The posters recorded the school’s founding in 1898, and the building of the existing Tudor/Gothic style school in 1928. It was designed by the New Jersey architect Ernest Sibley, a specialist in school buildings for which he advocated as much natural light as possible, wide corridors, and architectural features such as a tower or ivy covered walls, all of which can be seen at PHS.

Principal Gary Snyder described the new library as a “magical place of imagination and light … enjoyed by dozens of students on any afternoon.”

Renovation of the district’s schools, approved by Princeton voters in 2001, ended this year with the completion of the media center.

In addition to some 23,000 books, 11 remote databases, 125 periodicals and eight daily newspapers, the new facility boasts seating for 100 students, a reading room with comfortable couches, newly installed air conditioning, a conference room and four rooms for collaborative and individual study. A wireless environment supports 25 desktop and 22 laptop computers for students.

Elements of the original auditorium’s gothic interior remain, such as the balcony seating, grand arched doorways and windows, dark woodwork, chandeliers and sconces.

Ms. Sinding, who joined PHS as librarian in 1999, worked to make sure that the new bookshelves fit with existing panelling as well as on the design of the custom-made circulation desk. She described the project as a “a huge undertaking involving tons of concrete that had to be poured in order to level the sloped auditorium floor.” She thanked the University, PEF, the U-Store, and the PHS PTO for their efforts in support of “a strong research facility.”

The U-Store donated 75 books for the school library, selected by Ms. Sinding, whom Ms. Wilson described as “the true architect for turning from a tired auditorium into a space that blends the past and the future.”

Mr. Durkee, whose three daughters attended the high school, said: “The mutually beneficial relationship between the University and the high school has a long history.” He described the school as a major attraction for bringing faculty to Princeton and expressed his delight at seeing the University shield on the ceiling, its first use outside of the University. The shield reads: “In the Nation’s Service. In the Service of all Nations.”

A commemorative plaque reads: “The seal was given by Frank and Carrie Strasburger to commemorate the historic ties between the University and the school as well as the University’s support of the transformation of the space into the Library’s Reading Room.”

Eleventh graders Molly Lynch and Avery Siciliano were just two of the members of the School Council on hand Friday to lead tours of the new facility. “I come here to use the study rooms for homework,” said Ms. Lynch. Ms. Siciliano was enthusiastic about the new reading room where she goes to do her biology homework as well as to relax and pour over magazines and journals.

Book Donations Sought

Noting that many of the library’s books date to the 1960s, Shari Powell of the Princeton Education Foundation asked for donations of new books and reference titles from a wish list of books.

The library is open for students from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 3 p.m. Friday, and will open for staff at 7 a.m. each day.

For more information, visit: To find out how to sponsor a book, visit:

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