May 22, 2020

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton Health Department reported yesterday, May 21, a total of 17 confirmed COVID-19-related deaths in Princeton with seven additional probable (symptomatic but not tested) deaths of COVID-19 complications, 169 positive cases, 65 active positive cases, and 80 individuals recovered and released from isolation.

Recent focus has been on the long-term care facilities, where most of the COVID-19-related deaths in Princeton have occurred. Princeton Care Center has had 23 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among residents, 16 among staff members, and seven resident deaths from COVID-19 complications, according to the New Jersey Department of Health’s (NJDOH) report today, with suspected but untested cases excluded from the count. Fifteen residents and four staff members of Acorn Glen have contracted the virus, with seven resident deaths. There have been no reported COVID-related deaths of staff members in either Princeton facility.

In his coronavirus briefing from Trenton today, Gov. Phil Murphy announced 146 COVID-19-related deaths in the past 24 hours for a total of 10,985 deaths in the state, with 1,394 new positive tests and a total of 152,719 cases. New York is the only state with more COVID-19 cases and deaths than New Jersey.

In its 11th week, the pandemic is slowing, Murphy pointed out, with daily cases, deaths, and hospitalizations continuing to drop. He has been gradually lifting restrictions, allowing parks to reopen, non-essential businesses to offer curbside services, and permitting beaches, boardwalks, and lakes to open today, with social distancing guidelines, for the start of the Memorial Day weekend. more

May 20, 2020

For week four of our Community Comes Together campaign, we invited local youths to send in a poem. Daniel, age 8, penned this ode to one of New Jersey’s most popular fruits. Click Read More for more submissions for this week. Next week’s project will feature recipes.

CLICK TO VIEW MORE POEMS
 
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By Donald Gilpin

Princeton continues to see decreases in the daily numbers of positive COVID-19 cases, as social distancing remains but restrictions are gradually lifted throughout the state. As of Tuesday, there have been 17 deaths, seven additional probable (not tested) COVID-19-related deaths, 164 confirmed positive cases, and 80 individuals recovered and released from isolation in Princeton, according to the Princeton Health Department.

Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser emphasized the focus on long-term care facilities, where most of the COVID-19-related deaths in Princeton have occurred. As of May 18, the New Jersey Department of Health reported 47 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths at Princeton Care Center, and 19 confirmed cases and six deaths at Acorn Glen.

“Another large step forward in the battle against COVID-19 was announced by the New Jersey Department of Health in a recent Executive Directive signed by the Commissioner of Health requiring every long-term care facility to verify that they have developed disease and outbreak plans for testing staff and residents by May 19,” Grosser said. “Facilities must amend outbreak plans to include COVID-19 testing; and plans must be implemented by May 26.”

The directive also includes re-testing within three days for individuals who test negative. “The Princeton Health Department has been advising long-term care facilities on the importance of testing staff to ensure that asymptomatic staff are not spreading the virus among such a vulnerable population,” Grosser added.

The Health Department has been working with businesses, nonprofits, and schools in beginning to discuss plans leading to reopening.

Starting last week, the Princeton Health Department has been using volunteers, college interns, and parking enforcement officers to assist with extensive contact tracing. “Contact tracing is a fundamental activity that involves working with a client who has been diagnosed with an infectious disease to identify and provide support to contacts who may have been infected through exposure to the patient,” Grosser wrote in an email.

He continued, “This process prevents further transmission of disease by separating people who have (or may have) an infectious disease from people who do not. It is a core disease control measure that has been employed by public health agency personnel for decades.” more

By Donald Gilpin

Temporarily abandoning DarkSide-20k, his research into the dark matter of the universe, Princeton University Physics Professor Cristiano Galbiati in mid-March went to work to create ventilators for coronavirus patients.

Less than two months later, on May 1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Galbiati’s Mechanical Ventilator Milano (MVM) for use under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization. The MVM is currently moving into production stages, soon to be generating 50 ventilators a day.

Since dark matter, a mysterious invisible substance, is much more complex than ventilators, Galbiati quickly realized that he and his international team of physicists studying dark matter had the expertise and could mobilize the network of support needed to address the worldwide shortage of mechanical ventilators, which are vital for the survival of COVID-19 victims suffering from lack of oxygen.

“We needed to pivot and do something for the good of our people — and forget about our research,” Galbiati said in a phone call Tuesday from Milan, where he has been in lockdown with his family for the past two months. “This time we needed to apply our research for the health of the people.”

He described “a very stressful period” in Milan two months ago as the coronavirus was spreading in Italy. “I was locked down,” he said. “I called a friend of mine whose family had made a big donation to a hospital where they were fighting the pandemic. He told me the hospital’s order for ventilators had been canceled because of shortages and couldn’t be filled.”

Galbiati also talked with his brother, an emergency room doctor, who reported that his hospital was also in need of ventilators.

“The sense of crisis was very deep,” Galbiati told Symmetry Magazine. “We were in utter disbelief. It’s something that I never thought I would experience in my lifetime.” more

By Donald Gilpin

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright offered wit and wisdom, anecdotes, and insight on a wide range of topics Friday evening in a conversation with Anne Marie Slaughter, CEO of New America and Princeton University professor emerita of politics and international affairs. The Princeton Public Library (PPL)-sponsored virtual benefit was attended by more than 500 people.

Albright, who is on a book tour to promote her latest memoir, has established several additional careers since she stepped down as the first woman secretary of state in 2001 at the end of the Clinton administration. She is a professor of diplomacy at Georgetown University; a six-time New York Times best-selling author; a business entrepreneur, as chair of the Albright Stonebridge global business strategy group and founder of Albright Capital Management investment advisory service; and is also continuing her service as chair of the National Democratic Institute and as a member of the U.S. Defense Department Defense Policy Board.

Throughout the conversation, Albright demonstrated that one of her most powerful attributes is humor. “I never thought of myself as being funny,” she said. “I was a serious child, but I did discover that I had a sense of humor and I did try to deploy it in a number of ways. I do think it can disarm people.”

Albright, who was celebrating her 83rd birthday on Friday, explained the origin of the title of her new book, Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st-Century Memoir, which she wrote before the current pandemic. “But the title is so apt right now for what’s going on,” she said. “The most famous thing I ever said is ‘there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.’ It was so famous it ended up on a Starbucks cup.” more

AN EARLIER PANDEMIC: An emergency hospital was created in the Green home on Stockton Street, near where Trinity Church is located today, during the 1918 flu pandemic. This photo is among the historic documents to be shared in the Open Archive program being presented virtually by the Historical Society of Princeton on May 27. (Courtesy of Historical Society of Princeton)

By Anne Levin

During the influenza pandemic a century ago, Princeton suffered its share of losses. By the time the two-year crisis subsided in 1920, some 300 cases had been reported, and about 20 residents had died, according to the Historical Society of Princeton (HSP).

The town had no medical facility at that time. Princeton Hospital was established largely because of the pandemic, a fact that HSP curator Stephanie Schwartz will explore in the Open Archive program being presented digitally on Wednesday, May 27 at 6:30 p.m. The event, which explores the history of health care in Princeton, is being broadcast live on Princeton Public Library’s Crowdcast page.

“This Open Archive program will have a more structured format than previous ones, because it is being broadcast so we can’t feature quite as many documents as usual,” said Schwartz. “But we’ll be narrowing it down, focusing on what we have in our collection from the first few decades of the 20th century, especially in relation to the creation of the hospital, which was a result of the pandemic.”

Papers related to the original Neighborhood Nurse Committee, newspaper articles, hospital brochures, fundraising items, and annual reports are among the items to be discussed in the program, which will allow the opportunity to ask questions. Items unrelated to the flu epidemic include early records from the town’s first health officer in the 1920s, and signs that were put up outside houses indicating scarlet fever or chicken pox cases within. more

By Anne Levin

Due to demands created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Princeton Council is taking another look at its list of goals and priorities for this year before making a final decision on what is realistic to pursue, and what to defer. The governing body is planning to bring back the list as a resolution and vote on it again at its next meeting, which is Tuesday, May 26 at 7 p.m.

“Our priorities have changed with the pandemic hitting us,” said Municipal Administrator Marc Dashield at the Council’s May 11 virtual meeting. Dashield has asked directors of different governmental departments to revisit goals and priorities established early in the year, he told Council. Among the issues created by the pandemic are the moving of confidential materials from the police department to the municipal court, and improving technology to accommodate the number of issues that must be dealt with remotely.

Mayor Liz Lempert mentioned reviewing the regulations that businesses in town may encounter when they are cleared to reopen, to make sure some flexibility is built in. Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros talked about parking space requirements, and what is needed to change from one allowable use to another. “We’re looking at what other types of regulations we can change to help streamline the processes that exist right now,” she said.

Council President David Cohen referenced re-envisioning the use of streets, curbs, and sidewalks to accommodate social distancing, especially in light of restaurants that want to have outdoor dining. Other goals mentioned included training and maintaining an adequate number of people doing contact tracing to contain the coronavirus outbreak, and ensuring there is adequate housing and resources to socially isolate or quarantine those who have either tested positive for the virus, or come into contact with someone that has tested positive. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Picture a poet who makes a living writing thrillers. He’s on the run in San Francisco, having been falsely convicted of murder, and his face is all over the papers. Escaped Killer On the Loose. A rich, beautiful, sympathetic woman who followed the trial and has good reason to believe he’s innocent gives him shelter in her deluxe apartment overlooking the bay.

That night he flags down a taxi driven by a friendly, worldly, wise-cracking cabbie who immediately recognizes him. The cabbie knows of a genius plastic surgeon who can give the poet a new face that very night for $200. “Not only that,” says the cabbie, “this guy is a bit of a dark poet himself, he can mend your mind while he’s fixing your face.”

The first thing the doctor asks the poet is “What sorta face do you want?” He has a gallery of possibilities. “I could give you middle period T.S. Eliot. Or I could do early Robert Frost.”

“Nah,” says the poet, “How about Humphrey Bogart? Can you do a good Bogie?”

“Sure, all the time. Everybody wants to be Bogart, but I thought you were a poet.”

“I make a living writing thrillers,” says the poet. “I thought the cabbie told you. Anyway, Bogart is a poet.”

“Funny, now that I think of it, you talk just like him,” says the doctor. “You’ve got his voice.”

“So do you, doc. Everyone should sound like Bogart at three in the morning. That’s what I want to hear as the drug kicks in. I want a film noir mood. Voices speaking soft and low. The sound of coffee and cigarettes, sheltering in place while the world goes mad.”

“Right, but when you’re going under, you want poetry. I usually say a few words. To see folks through. Something mildly hypnotic. Sounds like you don’t want clarity. You want to mask the meaning. Give it a touch of mystery. Just the thing to be hearing as you flow down into darkness. Wallace Stevens always works. Like ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’ — by the fifth blackbird, you’re on your way. Now… just close your eyes.” more

KEEPING PATRONS ENGAGED: A scene from the Princeton Festival’s production of “Madame Butterfly,” which streams on June 7 at 1 p.m., during the first week of the organization’s busy online season. (Photo by Jessi Franco Designs)

By Anne Levin

Of the various rosters of virtual events currently offered by local arts organizations, the Princeton Festival’s is among the most ambitious. The recently released schedule of “Virtually Yours” — performances, poetry readings, podcasts, discussions, and artists’ videos — covers the month of June, which is when the 2020 festival would have taken place if a worldwide pandemic hadn’t caused its cancellation.

“Our patrons are used to this time period,” said Artistic Director Richard Tang Yuk in a phone call from his native Trinidad, where he has been sheltering since March. “I thought, rather than spread this out over several months, why don’t we just try to curate something and do it during the time people are used to seeing us?”

The long list of free, streamed events begins Monday, June 1 with Princeton Festival artists singing selections from The Sound of Music, and continues through the week with artists’ videos, a podcast on “Women in Music,” a lecture by Tim Urban on “Why We Love Opera,” a WWFM broadcast of the Concordia Chamber Players, an organ recital by Matthew Middletown, and a Princeton Festival performance of the opera Madame Butterfly. The next three weeks are similarly varied.

Once it became clear that the COVID-19 crisis was a serious threat, Tang Yuk and colleagues formed a special task force. “They were looking at reports every day as we got closer and closer to June,” he said. “In March, we realized we weren’t going to be able to do the festival this summer. Not everyone had canceled their summer festivals at that point, but it became clearer to us that we weren’t going to be able to do it. I always remind people that rehearsal starts at the beginning of May. So we made the decision at the beginning of April to cancel the physical season.” more

TRASHED ART CONTEST: From left, “Spectral Chamber,” “Sun,” “Two Fossil Forms,” and “Consumption Confusion” were featured in the TrashedArt 2019 Contest. Presented by the Mercer County Library System (MCLS), this year’s TrashedArt Contest was held virtually, with a reception and awards ceremony to be held Thursday, May 21 on the MCLS’ Facebook page.

Due to the continuing health and safety concerns surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19), the Mercer County Library System (MCLS) is closed until further notice. E-books, audiobooks, streaming media, and digital resources are still available 24/7 online.

In light of these events, the Library System’s TrashedArt 2020 Contest was held virtually through its website. The contest celebrated Earth Day by encouraging patrons to turn ordinary trash into extraordinary art.  more

IN CONVERSATION: The Arts Council of Princeton presents In Conversation with Mira DeMartino, pictured here, and Timothy M. Andrews on Tuesday, May 26, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Visit artscouncilofprinceton.org to link into the free conversation via Zoom.

The Arts Council of Princeton continues its In Conversation series with Mira DeMartino and Timothy M. Andrews on Tuesday, May 26 at 7 p.m.

This curated series of discussions is designed to celebrate and connect those who make art and those who love art. Visit artscouncilofprinceton.org to link into the free conversation via Zoom. more

BEST FRIENDS: “At SAVE, our cats and dogs are not just a number. We get to know each one individually. Each has its own story, and each is loved.” Heather L. Achenbach, executive director of SAVE, A Friend To Homeless Animals, is shown with Yorkshire terrier, Rudy, who was recently adopted. Found abandoned, he was brought to SAVE, where he was gently cared for, and then soon found his new “forever” home.

By Jean Stratton

For those who have loved a companion animal, the bond is deep and true. It could be that special dog, now grown old, you knew as a puppy. Or the kitten you watched play all day, now content to catnap the hours away. Both are still such a valuable and loved part of the family — whatever their ages.

There are as many such stories as there are dogs and cats, and each is unique and lasting.

And when an animal who has been abandoned or abused is able to find a home, it is even more meaningful.

No one understands this more fully than Heather L. Achenbach, executive director of SAVE, A Friend To Homeless Animals. She is aware of the continuing need to find homes for the many stray, lost, and surrendered dogs and cats, so that they can live a safe and happy life. more

BATTLING BACK: Princeton University baseball player Chris Davis displays his batting form in a game last spring. After dealing with a series of injuries early in his career, outfielder Davis emerged as a key contributor for the Tigers, hitting .281 in 2019 as a junior and leading the Tigers in slugging percentage with a .407 mark. With his final season getting cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Davis is headed to Duke University as a graduate student in its Fuqua School of Business and will be playing for the Blue Devil baseball program. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Resilient gets thrown around a lot in these uncertain times, but few befit the adjective better than Chris Davis.

The Princeton University senior baseball star will graduate this June after having his final season cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, the third season he has missed out on in his career. He’s been through a lot in the last five years, yet still has his sights on playing pro ball.

“He’s just as resilient a young man as we have ever had,” said Scott Bradley, the Tigers head coach the last 23 years. “It’s incredible what he’s done.”

Davis, a 5’9, 175-pound outfielder from Avon, Conn., was set back by a shoulder problem in his first year at Princeton, a life-threatening freak injury the next year, and now after two promising seasons, his final campaign was erased by precautions taken by the Ivy League and NCAA due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Losing a baseball season doesn’t match some of the loss and hardship some of the people across the world have had,” said Davis. “It’s crazy how much it has escalated with the reasons I’ve missed seasons.”

Returning from the first two years off to enjoy strong seasons, Davis is looking forward to his next opportunity on the diamond that will come next year as a graduate student in Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. This spring, he had been hoping to build on a 2019 season that saw him start every game, batting .281 and leading the Tigers with a .407 slugging percentage as well as 16 extra-base hits. He had a hit and two walks this year in seven games as the Tigers went 0-7 before the remainder of the season was canceled. more

MAKING STRIDES: Mariana Lopez-Ona heads up the field last year in her senior season for the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team. This past spring, Lopez-Ona made her debut for the University of Michigan women’s lacrosse team, tallying one goal in three appearances for the Wolverines as they went 5-1 before their season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Mariana Lopez-Ona started from day one of her career with the Princeton High girls’ lacrosse team in the spring of 2016 and ended up tallying more than 300 goals over the next four seasons.

Heading to the University of Michigan last fall to join its Division I women’s lacrosse program, things didn’t come so easily for Lopez-Ona.

“The college game is just so much different and faster,” said Lopez-Ona, a 5’9 midfielder.

“There is a lot more work involved in bringing it up to that level. When you start playing outside of the high school realm, it is just a shock when you first get there.”

In dealing with those challenges, Lopez-Ona found she was able to lean on her teammates.

“One of the most beneficial things is that it is somewhat different from high school because everyone is so insanely supportive of each other,” said Lopez-Ona.

“You are all going through the run test and tough coaching together and you are basically living together. If you are having a bad day at practice, your teammates are there to pick you up.”

Former PHS teammate and star goalie for Michigan, Mira Shane, also helped to pick up Lopez-Ona’s spirits.

“I talked to Mira a lot throughout my fall about practices and everything; she was really, really helpful,” said Lopez-Ona. more

STICKING TOGETHER: Hun School girls’ lacrosse player Allison Cowan goes after the ball in a game last spring. Senior star Cowan and her classmates were poised for a big finale before 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hun players have remained connected through Zoom and Instagram as they have worked from home. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Rachel Hickey sensed something special about her Hun School girls’ lacrosse team this spring.

“I don’t know if I have ever been part of a team where I have seen so much growth, not only physically but in terms of culture as well,” said Hun head coach Hickey.

“It was just a really wonderful feeling of how the girls were really enjoying being there. They were really enjoying each other and just working so hard. They were wanting to work hard for each other and we worked to change the culture.”

Hickey credited her senior group with taking a major role in setting that positive tone.

“A huge piece of it as well was this year I had 10 seniors so that was real special,” added Hickey, whose Class of 2020 included Emily Albanese, Sophie Bennett, Emma Caforio, Allison Cowan, Grace Davis, Rose Denommee, Ariel Gold, Samantha Gold, Julia McBryan, and Chessie Ross.

“All of the seniors were friends as well. When you have a group of leaders who are friends that in and of itself goes so far when kids want to play for each other.”

With Hickey in her second year at the helm of the program, the players had developed a greater comfort level from the start of the school year.

“Kids in high school are young and change is challenging for anyone,” said Hickey. more

May 15, 2020

By Donald Gilpin

The curve continues to flatten in Princeton, as only two new cases of COVID-19 have been reported by the Princeton Health Department since Monday, with a total of 161 cases, 62 active positive cases, and 79 COVID-19 patients recovered and released from isolation, according to today’s May 15 report.

There have been 15 confirmed COVID-related deaths and an additional seven probable (not tested but COVID symptomatic) deaths in Princeton.

At his Friday afternoon press briefing, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced 201 more deaths from COVID-19 in the state, bringing the New Jersey total to 10,138 deaths, with at least 143,905 total cases, 1,297 new cases reported over the past 24 hours.

Murphy emphasized that the state’s daily numbers of new deaths from COVID-19, confirmed cases, and hospitalizations continue to decline significantly, allowing an easing of restrictions and lockdown orders. more

May 13, 2020
Ewan, 6

For week three of our Community Comes Together Campaign, we invited local children to send in their nature photos. Next week’s project will feature poems.

“BRIDGE OUT” NO MORE: The Alexander Street/Road project, replacing three bridges and closing the road for six months, is almost complete, and the road is scheduled to open on Friday, May 15. A joint undertaking of the New Jersey Department of Transportation and Mercer County, in close coordination with the town of Princeton, the project “will be fully appreciated when the stay-at-home order is lifted and we begin the return to work,” said Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert.

By Donald Gilpin

Alexander Street/Road in Princeton and West Windsor is scheduled to reopen on Friday, May 15 after six months, following concurrent Mercer County and New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) projects that replaced three bridges over the D&R Canal, the Stony Brook, and Alexander Creek.

The new bridges between Princeton and West Windsor are complete, the sidewalks are open for pedestrians, and Mercer County and the NJDOT are in the process of final paving and striping.

“It’s great to have this major project coming to a conclusion and to have the road opened back up,” said Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert. “We all benefit when necessary investments are made in our vital infrastructure, even though the disruption caused by construction can be painful.”

Princeton Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton added, “It has been an excellent example of how the state, county, and municipality can be flexible and work together to achieve a common goal.”

Lempert emphasized the importance of Alexander Street/Road access to Princeton as one of only three main entrances to Princeton from Route 1 and the east. “This investment will be fully appreciated when the stay-at-home order is lifted and we begin the return to work,” she said. more

By Donald Gilpin

On Tuesday, May 12, when the Princeton Health Department reported no new COVID-19 cases or deaths in the previous 24 hours and three more COVID-19 patients recovered with isolation complete, Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser expressed cautious optimism about the effects of social distancing. The state is also seeing declines in new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

“Social distancing efforts in New Jersey are starting to make tremendous improvements in a few of our epidemiological trends of note,” he wrote in an email. “New Jersey is seeing a decline in new positive cases, hospitalizations, and fewer reported deaths per day. These three metrics began exponential growth in early April and fortunately we are seeing a larger decrease each day since May has started.”

Grosser attributed the improving counts to social distancing and other efforts of residents in Princeton and throughout the state. He pointed out that Princeton has been seeing a decline in new cases, though there was an uptick in numbers last Friday because of new counting criteria that include probable cases, individuals who have not been tested but are COVID-19 symptomatic.

Grosser also noted positive trends in Princeton’s long-term care facilities, where many of the cases and most of the town’s COVID-19-related deaths have occurred. There have been nine COVID-19-related deaths at the Princeton Care Center, with 36 confirmed cases, according to the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), and Acorn Glen assisted living facility has reported five deaths with 18 confirmed cases. more

By Anne Levin

Betty Wold Johnson, who provided major support to many local civic, community, and arts organizations, has died at the age of 99. The Hopewell resident, who formerly lived in Princeton at a house she recently donated to The Hun School, was the mother of New York Jets owners Christopher Johnson and Woody Johnson, who is the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Johnson was married to Robert Wood Johnson III, grandson of the founder of the Johnson & Johnson Company. They had five children before his death in 1970. She married Douglas Bushnell in 1978. He died in 2007.

Though she was quiet about it, Johnson’s generosity to local causes was well known. She recently donated $500,000 in honor of McCarter Theatre’s departing Artistic Director and Resident Playwright Emily Mann. She was a fan of McCarter productions and attended many performances and gala celebrations.

“I loved Betty Wold Johnson. I loved her generosity, her tough mindedness and her wisdom,” said Mann in a statement. “I reveled in her warmth which covered a spine of steel. If she believed in you, she let you know it, and she always set the bar high. Bless you, Betty, for all you asked of us and all you gave us. I am only one of many who will miss you sorely.”

When the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad broke ground for its new home last year, Johnson was on hand for the celebration. “The Johnson family has been engaged with the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad since 1939 when we stocked our first ambulance with medical supplies, many from Johnson & Johnson,” said Mark Freda, president of the squad. “And for many decades, Betty Wold Johnson continued to support us, most recently with a generous gift to our capital campaign for our new building. Something we were surprised to learn about Betty was her keen interest in building design. She clearly enjoyed touring our new building while still under construction last October, asking many detailed construction related questions. We are very pleased that she got to see the building as it came close to being completed.”  more

KEEPING AUDIENCES ENGAGED: When American Repertory Ballet streamed excerpts from its recent production of “Giselle” to patrons, the favorable response encouraged the company to continue presenting online content once it is safe to return to live performances.

By Anne Levin

Last Thursday evening, Princeton University Art Museum Director James Steward delivered a public lecture online. A total of 965 people participated, more than the museum would ever be able to squeeze into its auditorium.

On May 2, McCarter Theatre Center streamed an online tribute to outgoing Artistic Director Emily Mann, with tributes from several well-known actors and theater professionals. More than 3,000 people watched from their homes.

Originally envisioned as a way to keep patrons engaged during the COVID-19 shutdown, the use of online content by arts organizations has turned out to be more than just a stopgap measure. Locally, nationally, and internationally, museums, theater companies, dance troupes, orchestras, and presenting organizations are finding a favorable response to the variety of programs they are making available online — so much so that they are planning to incorporate it into their regular schedules and repertories.

“There is a set of outreach opportunities that is now possible because of the digital efforts we’ve made. Why would we not try to sustain them?” said Steward. “Going forward, it has to be both. Once you open the door and discover that people not just locally, but in geographically remote areas are actually hungry for your content, it presents a wonderful opportunity.” more

Barry Galasso

By Donald Gilpin

When Barry Galasso takes over leadership as interim superintendent of the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) on July 1, he’ll be bringing with him many years of experience, particularly with a critical background and expertise in online learning and in leading school district searches for top administrators.
Galasso, whose appointment was announced at last week’s Board of Education (BOE) meeting, will continue in his position for about six months to a year as the BOE searches for a permanent replacement for Superintendent Steve Cochrane, who will be stepping down at the end of June. Galasso has been in public education for five decades as a teacher and administrator and has worked at every level of leadership: department chair, assistant principal, supervisor, principal, and superintendent.

Most recently interim superintendent of the Voorhees Township School District, Galasso has served 21 years as superintendent in three different New Jersey school districts. Upon retirement he was appointed executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators representing all superintendents in the state. For eight years he served as executive director of the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, an educational service agency based in Doylestown, Pa., working with 13 school districts and their school boards.

Galasso, who received his doctorate in education from Rutgers University, has taught courses in administration, curriculum, and leadership at Rutgers, Rowan, Farleigh Dickinson, Delaware Valley, and Gwynedd Mercy University.

Galasso noted that, having conducted more than 20 searches for top administrators in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, he hoped to use that experience to help the Princeton BOE. “In fact the organization that I led in Bucks County assisted all 13 Boards of Education in selecting new executive leadership,” Galasso wrote in an email. “In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, I conducted dozens of board of education retreats, administrative and community goal- and objective-setting meetings. The purpose was to provide all the stakeholders a forum using a consensus-building model to determine the priorities of the community.” more

By Anne Levin

A presentation by Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Business Administrator Matt Bouldin was among the items at Princeton Council’s May 11 meeting, held virtually via Zoom. Bouldin and PPS Finance Chair Brian McDonald updated the governing body on the budget, which was recently passed by the Board of Education.

Bouldin discussed efforts that have been made since the COVID-19 crisis closed the schools. “The good news is that we should have some net savings for our current budget year, which should allow us to add some fund balance or cash in the bank,” he said. “We don’t know yet how much that will be.”

McDonald added that they have been working hard to identify opportunities to save funds, and have found in the neighborhood of $1 million. “We’re describing this as a budget, but I think of it as a snapshot,” he said. “We think it is highly likely this budget will change. We’ll need to take a second look in late August or early September, when we learn about the aid numbers [from the state of New Jersey] and when we have a better idea on costs related to COVID-19.”

Bouldin said that while remote learning is for the most part working well, there are many students in general and special education who are falling behind. “We have an obligation to keep these kids moving at an acceptable pace,” he said, adding that efforts may be made over the summer to help them catch up which could result in additional costs. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Let’s get rid of that old man hate
And bring our fellow man up to date.
—Little Richard (1932-2020)

“Good Golly, Miss Molly,” it looks like the death of Little Richard has invaded a column marking the 50th anniversary of Kent State, Paul McCartney’s first solo album, and the break-up of the Beatles. But surely there’s room for the man who taught Paul “everything he knows.”

By the time they formed a band, Lennon and McCartney had taken crash courses at the College of Little Richard, as can be heard in John’s frenzied “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” and Paul’s out-of-the-body and over-the-top “Long Tall Sally.” With some help from the singer who “came screaming into my life as a teenager,” Paul took rock-and-roll-roller-coaster hysteria to another level in “Helter Skelter,” a fitting theme song for the state of the nation, whether you mean May 1970 or May 2020.
America Screaming

Speaking of college, say you’re on the first day of a European tour, one of 36 American students, all but eight of them females. It’s a sunny afternoon in Delft, and you’re coming out of Vermeer’s house in a still-life spell feeling three centuries away from the U.S.A. You’re wandering through a street fair with calliopes and bump-em cars near a quaint park with swans when you hear a sound — no, it’s too big to hear, the sound descends on you, it attacks you, it eats you alive; it’s the sound of America screaming — “A wop-boppa-LOO-BOP a-lop-BAM-BOOM!” Yes! Glory be! Hallelujah, suddenly you’re a rock ‘n’ roll patriot ready to sing the anthem and salute the Stars and Stripes of joyous chaos (“I got a girl named Daisy, she almost drives me crazy”) — but except for one or two Daisys and Miss Mollys, most of the girls seem appalled and embarrassed by the neuron-shattering blast of “Tutti Frutti.” more

MCCARTER@HOME: McCarter Theatre presented an online conversation between Emily Mann, its outgoing artistic director and resident playwright, and Oskar Eustis, artistic director of The Public Theater. (Mann photo by Matt Pilsner; Eustis photo by Joan Marcus, courtesy of The Public Theater)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

McCarter Theatre presented “McCarter LIVE: In Conversation with Oskar Eustis” on May 8. The discussion was part of the theatre’s ongoing McCarter@Home series of livestreamed events. McCarter’s artistic engagement manager, Paula T. Alekson, curated the conversation. The event was hosted via Zoom, as well as McCarter’s Facebook page.

Eustis became artistic director of San Francisco’s Eureka Theatre Company in 1986, following his position there as resident director and dramaturg. He became artistic director of the Mark Taper Forum (Los Angeles) in 1989, followed by Trinity Repertory Company (Providence, Rhode Island) in 1994. He has been artistic director of The Public Theater in New York City since 2005. His association with Emily Mann predates her 30-year tenure as McCarter’s artistic director and resident playwright.

Their first collaboration was a production of Mann’s Obie Award-winning play Still Life. Speaking from his home in Brooklyn, Eustis recalls that Still Life — the result of Mann’s interviews with three people whose lives have been affected by the Vietnam War — was “one of the most brilliant and piercing things I’d read. I was about 21 years old. This was before I’d met Emily; I just knew she’d written this brilliant play, and somehow we’d get the rights to do it.”

“That’s how I got to meet Oskar,” says Mann. “I remember Oskar calling with Tony Taccone [the Eureka’s artistic director at the time]. We had what ended up being, for me, a life-changing conversation. I had never talked to a pair of directors, or a dramaturg [Eustis], who understood the play on such a deep level. So I got on an airplane, and I went out to San Francisco — and the rest is history. We became fast friends.” more