June 14, 2017

ENJOYING THE MOMENT: Princeton High throwing star Paul Brennan grins during a meet this year. Sophomore Brennan culminated a big spring by taking seventh in the discus at the Meet of Champions last Saturday at Northern Burlington High. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Tim Brennan took up throwing events as a sixth grader at the Cranbury School and went on the enjoy a brilliant career for the Princeton High boys’ track team.

Brennan set a PHS record in the discus at 180’9 and competed at the next level, throwing for Dartmouth College over the last four years, recently getting named as a recipient of the program’s Herb Chase Track Award given to athletes who have made the greatest improvement in his or her event through hard work, self-discipline, and enthusiasm for the sport. more

In a five-page letter delivered Monday, Acting State Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington denied the Princeton Board of Education’s request to stay, pending resolution of an appeal, her February 28 decision approving Princeton Charter School’s (PCS) proposal to expand enrollment and implement a weighted admissions lottery.

The School Board appealed the acting commissioner’s decision to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court on March 10, and on March 17 the Board requested a stay to enjoin PCS from implementing the weighted lottery and expansion pending resolution of the appeal. more

It was announced on Monday that Robert K. Durkee will be stepping down as Princeton University’s vice president for public affairs, a role he has held since 1978, but he will remain in the position of vice president and secretary of the University.

In sharing a few reflections on his career so far, Mr. Durkee, who arrived at Princeton as a student in 1965, graduated in 1969, and began working in the University president’s office as assistant to the president in 1972, chose to focus “on my engagement on behalf of the university with the communities in which it is located.” more

During his tenure as New Jersey governor from 1982 to 1990, Tom Kean made funding of the arts a priority. So it makes sense that Mr. Kean has signed on as honorary chairman of the Coalition to Save Westminster Choir College, an organization of alumni, students, and others intent on keeping the famed choral academy intact at its longtime Princeton location.

Mr. Kean spoke at a press conference Friday, June 9 about Rider University’s plans to sell the school it merged with 26 years ago. Rider, which is in Lawrenceville, announced earlier this year that it would sell the Westminster campus as a way to stem a growing gap in [Rider’s] finances. While the University has said its priority was to find an academic institution that would keep Westminster, which is financially stable, in place, there is concern that the school will be sold to a developer who could turn the tree-lined campus into a housing complex, and the school would be broken up. more

HELPING HANDS: Talia Fiester, left, and May Kotsen recently joined fellow Princeton High School Democrats in Action to raise funds for girls in the Oaks Integrated Care Foster Home Program. The club, which was formed in the spring, is focused on taking action to make a difference.

For several years, the Princeton High School Democrats club has served as an outlet for students with liberal opinions who want to share their opinions with like-minded individuals. Recently, a second club has emerged, and it takes the concept a step further.

Princeton High School Democrats in Action was founded this spring by four sophomores who wanted to do more than talk. Talia Fiester, May Kotsen, Kahdeeja Qurieshi, and Ella Kotsen put the club together in April, organizing a voter registration drive. More recently, the club organized a local canning drive at McCaffrey’s Market, gathering feminine hygiene products for girls in the Foster Home Program at Oaks Integrated Care, a non-profit that provides social services to New Jersey residents in need. more

Princeton High School (PHS) Senior Jamaica Ponder was suspended for one day Monday in what her father, Rhinold Ponder, claims was “arbitrary and retaliatory” punitive action, “an attempt to silence some of those who would speak up about racism.” Ms. Ponder and her parents are African Americans.

In a letter sent to the school community last week, PHS Principal Gary Snyder reported that several students had submitted PHS yearbook collages including “insensitive, offensive, and provocative words and symbols of racial bias, bigotry, and anti-Semitism. Those students who submitted the inappropriate collages are responsible for their actions, and those actions are being addressed within the parameters of school discipline.”  more

The city of such women, I am mad to be with them! I will return after death to be with them!

—Walt Whitman, from “Mannahatta”

The beautiful women on view in the James A. Michener Museum’s vision of Jazz Age Manhattan in “Charles Sheeler: Fashion, Photography and Sculptural Formrange from elegant ladies in “dragonfly-stitched ermine coats” to Ziegfield dancers like the exhibit’s cover girl Bobbe Arnst and little (4’10) Ann Pennington, who can be seen in a series of Sheeler photographs performing Black Bottom moves like “Bon Bon Buddy,” “Down Baby,” “Step Out,” “Raggedy Trot,” and “Clap Hands.” more

BACK TO THE BARRE: Princeton Ballet School Director Pamela Levy, shown here teaching at the school (above) and during her days as a student appearing as a soldier in “The Nutcracker,” (below) has instituted some changes in the curriculum.

There are changes afoot at the Princeton Ballet School.

The 63-year-old dance academy headquartered in Princeton Shopping Center now offers free tuition for boys. There is a new Conservatory Program for serious students interested in more focused training. Another, the FLEX Program, offers similarly rigorous classes, but without the same intensity or time commitment. Class names have been simplified to more clearly reflect their progression. more

The Princeton Festival is presenting Man of La Mancha in the Matthews Acting Studio at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts. The auditorium becomes a dungeon in which Cervantes awaits trial by the Spanish Inquisition. A playwright and actor, he entertains the other prisoners — and the audience — by becoming Don Quixote, his creation. There is nothing quixotic about this beautiful production, which makes effective use of the intimate space.

The musical’s book is by Dale Wasserman, who based it on his television play I, Don Quixote. The Flamenco-infused music is by Mitch Leigh, and the lyrics are by Joe Darion.

Man of La Mancha is presented without an intermission, because Mr. Wasserman wished to avoid interrupting the narrative. Except for an opening guitar solo performed by one of the prisoners, there is no music during the dungeon scenes. Only the Don Quixote vignettes, which are set “various places in the imagination of Miguel de Cervantes,” contain songs.

Cervantes is brought with his manservant to a dungeon in Seville, to await trial by the Spanish Inquisition. The other prisoners, led by a “governor,” also place them on trial. If Cervantes is found guilty, he will surrender his possessions — costumes, makeup, and a mysterious manuscript — and the manuscript will be burned. Cervantes begs the prisoners to permit his defense to be in the form of a play.  more

Like many performing organizations in Princeton involving students, the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra (GPYO) has spent this past year honing their orchestral sound to make the most of their young players, only to bid farewell to graduating seniors at the end of the concert season. This past Saturday night, GPYO sent its “senior class” off with a well-performed concert of challenging orchestral music featuring a prodigious multi-talented young pianist in a movement of a concerto which challenges even the most experienced soloists. GPYO has several instrumental ensembles under its organizational umbrella, and Saturday night’s concert in Richardson Auditorium showcased the older and more experienced players in the Concert Orchestra and Symphonic Orchestra. more

A FOND FAREWELL: At its final meeting of the 2016-17 season, McCarter Theatre Center’s Board of Trustees bid farewell to four outgoing board members. Pictured (l-r) is Departing Board Member Shawn Ellsworth, McCarter Board Chair Leslie Kuenne, Departing Board Member Carolyn P. Sanderson, McCarter Artistic Director Emily Mann, and McCarter Managing Director Timothy J. Shields. (Photo credit Matt Pilsner)

At its final meeting of the 2016-17 season, McCarter Theatre Center’s Board of Trustees said farewell to four outgoing board members. Departing the board are: Shawn Ellsworth – president, Ellsworth Realty Associates; Carolyn P. Sanderson – managing director, JPMorgan Chase and Co.; Jesse Treu, PhD – partner, Domain Associates; Danilo Verge, MD, MBA – vice president CVMD Global Medical Affairs, AstraZeneca.  more

The Westminster Summer Choral Festival Chorus and Piffaro, The Renaissance Band, conducted by Joe Miller, will perform Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 on Saturday, July 1 at 7 p.m. in Miller Chapel on the campus of the Princeton Theological Seminary. A free-will offering will be taken at the concert.

Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 is known for the grandeur of its conception and the opulence of its sound. No other surviving work from that time is written on such a scale, combining the grandest of public music with the most intimate of solo songs; no other such work calls for the many colorful instruments and uses them in such a daringly modern, virtuosic way. The work is believed to have been written as an example of what could be done setting texts in different styles, particularly the new theatrical style of which Monteverdi was a great pioneer. Instead of the flowing, closely knit counterpoint expected from a composer like Palestrina of the preceding generation, the Vespers of 1610 has been described as half opera and half dance. more

GREAT GARDENS: “We are set apart because we grow our own bedding plants, annuals, and perennials, and we have thirteen greenhouses. This is unusual today. And importantly, we are family-owned and operated.” Sarah Conte is the third generation to be part of Mazur Nursery in Lawrence Township, and her son Michael represents the fourth generation.

A family-owned and operated business for 85 years is almost unheard of in today’s world of quick turnovers, rapidly changing landscapes, and the “here today, gone tomorrow” mentality.

An exception is Mazur Nursery, still going strong at 265 Bakers Basin Road in Lawrence Township. Established in 1932 by George Mazur, it has become one of the area’s foremost garden centers. more

AN EVENING OF THEATER AND PETS: Award-winning local playwright Noemi de la Puente teams up with SAVE – A Friend to Homeless Animals, for an imaginative fundraising event to support both Dramatic Question Theatre (DQT) in New York City and SAVE — A Friend to Homeless Animals in Skillman. The event will take place on Thursday, June 29 at SAVE, located at 1010 Route 601 in Skillman. Doors open for The Pet Play reading at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 online and $25 at the door. To purchase, visit www.artful.ly/dramatic-question-theatre-dqt.

Award-winning local playwright Noemi de la Puente teams up with SAVE — A Friend to Homeless Animals, for an imaginative fundraising event to support both Dramatic Question Theatre (DQT) in New York City, and SAVE – A Friend to Homeless Animals in Skillman, N.J. on Thursday, June 29 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The event will be held at SAVE, located at 1010 Route 601 in Skillman. A tour of the facility will precede the event at 5:30 p.m.  more

MATISSE: Among the special items at next week’s Friends of the Princeton Public Library Book Sale, held June 23-24 in the library’s Community Room, is a copy — not the one shown here — of “Henri Matisse Catalogue Raisonné de L’œuvre Gravé.”

The 2017 Friends of the Princeton Public Library Book Sale will take place June 23-24 in the library’s Community Room.

One of the top used book sales in the region, this year’s sale includes more than 10,000 books for all ages and across a wide variety of topics. Most books are priced between $1 and $3, with art books and special selections priced higher. more

The Mercer County Park Commission, in cooperation with the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation, is excited to announce that the first Mercer County Jazz Festival at the Festival Grounds will be held Saturday, July 8, from noon to 8 p.m. Come out to Mercer County Park to enjoy a mix of contemporary, big band, and bebop jazz.

The day’s musical lineup kicks off with No WiFi, a five-piece band consisting of high school juniors and seniors who represent the future of local jazz.  more

Last weekend, Mayor Liz Lempert joined the 211 U.S. mayors adding their name to the Climate Mayors open letter affirming to adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments of the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement. Climate Mayors (also know as Mayors National Climate Action Agenda or MNCAA) is a network of U.S. mayors representing over 50 million Americans working together to strengthen local efforts for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting efforts for binding federal and global-level policy making.

“With the Trump Administration’s inexcusable withdrawal from the Paris agreement, it is imperative that towns and cities take the lead on climate action,” said Ms. Lempert. “We are fortunate that Princeton has many organizations, public and private, working in tandem with the municipality on efforts that support the goals in the agreement.” more

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher has announced the 2017 Jersey Freshcipes contest, encouraging people to create and share recipes using Jersey Fresh produce as one of the main ingredients.

The recipes can be entered by going to http://jerseyfresh.nj.gov/recipecontest.html. There will be weekly winners as well as a grand prize of a $500 Visa gift card and Jersey Fresh kitchen accessories.

Recipe entries must include a name for the dish, a brief description, the ingredients, preparation directions, and a photo of the finished recipe. There is no limit to how many times one person can enter. The weekly winners will be highlighted on the Jersey Fresh Facebook page and on the Jersey Fresh website. more

DRIVING FORCE: Eric Murdock, Jr., right, drives past a foe in action last year in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Star guard Murdock helped Majeski Foundation win the 2016 league title. Murdock and the Majeski squad, which is comprised of current members of The College of New Jersey men’s hoops team, will start their title defense when the league tips off its 29th season on June 19 with a triple-header at the Community Park courts starting at 7:15 p.m. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

For the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League, the 2016 season represented a changing of the guard.

With league stalwarts and perennial title contenders, Ivy Inn and Dr. Palmer, getting eliminated early in the playoffs, the Majeski Foundation, a squad comprised of current members of The College of New Jersey men’s hoops team, rolled to the title. more

June 13, 2017

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Grace Sheppard, right, heads upfield during a game this spring. Sophomore Sheppard’s production in the midfield helped Stuart post a 6-10 record this season. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Missy Bruvik felt good about her Stuart Country Day lacrosse team before it even started regular season play.

“I think the kids felt much more prepared this year going into the season, having had that opportunity to go to Florida,” said Stuart head coach Bruvik, referring to the squad’s preseason trip.

“They felt it was much more a team effort this year in terms of camaraderie and touches on the ball. When you play lacrosse that is a good thing. You want to get everyone involved, feeling that they see ball and they are ready when their time comes.”  more

June 11, 2017

FULL OF ENERGY: The parklet that opens to the public on Saturday, in front of jaZams toy store on Palmer Square, is structured along a theme of energy and play. Each of its five rooms has a different function.

Two summers ago, a set of artfully designed, covered benches in front of Small World Coffee became a popular resting spot for those shopping and strolling along Witherspoon Street. This temporary “parklet,” a project of the municipality and the Arts Council of Princeton, was a first for Princeton, following the lead of such cities as San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Seattle. more

June 8, 2017

The Cherry Valley Cooperative prepares for its first harvest at its new location. (Photo by Rachel Steinhauser)

“You know, the food that we’re eating is just devoid of nutrients, and it’s devoid of flavor,” Lauren Nagy says, perched on a plastic chair in the greenhouse of the Cherry Valley Cooperative. Rows of carrots, Swiss chard, kale, and all manner of other vegetable sit in starter trays stretching to the back of the facility in a patchwork of greens. A barrel-sized bucket of “compost tea” brews, gurgling nearby. Ms. Nagy explains that much of the flavor and aroma of fruits and vegetables is influenced and enriched by soil life. She says that large-scale agricultural producers tend to neglect soil quality, to the detriment of their produce. “People just don’t want to eat it — because it sucks,” she says, “We’re trying to make people like food again.” more

June 7, 2017

Grand Marshal Dan Lopresti, Princeton *87, leads the Princeton University P-rade on Saturday afternoon during Reunions weekend. He is followed by alumni in festive attire grouped by graduating class, starting by tradition with the 25th reunion class. Participants share why they came for Reunions weekend in this week’s Town Talk, and more photos are featured on page 18. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

Princeton University held its 270th commencement ceremony on the green in front of Nassau Hall yesterday morning. A total of 1,268 seniors were awarded undergraduate degrees, three from former classes, and 988 students were recognized with graduate degrees.

The University also gave honorary degrees to five individuals for their contributions to public service, the sciences, athletics, education, and the humanities. Recognized were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball star and social activist; Juliet Villareal Garcia, the first Mexican-American woman president of a U.S. college or university; Pamela Matson, an academic leader in environmental science; Bunker Roy, Indian social activist and educator; and Jeremiah P. Ostriker, astrophysicist and former provost of Princeton University who helped establish its pioneering financial aid program. more

The Princeton School Board and the teachers’ union are ironing out the final details of a two-year extension to the current contract that would carry through to the end of the 2020 school year.

Seeking to avoid the kind of conflict and public demonstrations that characterized the contentious negotiations over the current contract, which were finally resolved two years ago, the board and the Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA) have laid the groundwork to reach an agreement at least a year before the contract expires on June 30, 2018.  more