August 18, 2021

EXECUTIVE DECISION: Ben Stentz, center, enjoys the moment with Princeton Recreation Department colleagues Nicole Paulucci, left, and Vikki Caines after Paulucci received an award from the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association. Stentz recently stepped down as the Rec Department executive director after a 10-year tenure guiding the organization. (Photo provided by Ben Stentz)

By Bill Alden

Ben Stentz prides himself on his ability to build a team.

“I always refer back to my old basketball coaching days,” said Stentz, who coached for the Mercer County Community College and Clarion University men’s hoops programs.

“They used to joke that they could send me into a gym in the middle of nowhere and if there were 50 kids in there playing, I could find the one that we really wanted to recruit easily and quickly.”

When Stentz became executive director of the Princeton Recreation Department in 2011 after having worked for the department since 2000, he applied those team-building skills.

“When I got promoted, we were really short-staffed and I had to hire a number of people pretty quickly,” recalled Stentz, a baseball and basketball standout at Princeton High who returned to town after coaching at Clarion and worked at the YMCA before coming to the Rec Department as a program supervisor in 2000.

“I had to find the right people for the right positions at the right moment in time. I am proud of the team that I built and rebuilt a number of times.”

After a 10-year run as the helm, Stentz decided that it was time to leave the team and stepped down effective July 1. more

IN GOOD FORM: Daniel Baytin displays his freestyle form in a race this season for the Princeton High boys’ swimming team. This summer, Baytin starred for the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings, taking first in the 50 breaststroke and second in the 100 individual medley at the Cicada Classic meet which culminated action this summer in the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA). (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Becca Adlai-Gail has risen through the ranks during her time with the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings.

Some 19 years ago, Adlai-Gail started competing for the swim team as a 4-year-old and joined the club’s diving team as well three years later.

She was a stalwart for both programs through elementary, middle school, and high school, also starring for the WW/P-North swim team and going to compete at the college level for Bryn Mawr.

Diversifying her involvement with the club in college, Adlai-Gail started serving as an assistant coach for the Lemmings. In 2020, she took the helm of the program but the team had no meets due to the pandemic, although it was able to have five weeks of practice.

This summer, Adlai-Gail was excited to guide the team through a Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA)  dual meet campaign and the season-ending Cicada Classic held at the Community Park pool.

“I definitely look forward to it every summer, I have always thought of Nassau as my second home,” said Adlai-Gail. more

MIDDLE OF THE ACTION: Infielder Kenny Schiavone waits for the ball in action this summer for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team. Middle infielder/pitcher Schiavone was a stalwart this summer for Post 218 as it went 4-14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In one sense, it was a disappointing season for the Princeton Post 218 American Legion baseball team as it went 4-14 this summer.

“That is the nature of the American Legion season once you run into a stretch of eight or nine games in a row, it takes a lot of mental discipline to keep doing well,” said Post 218 manager Benito Gonzalez, who was in his first summer at the helm of the program after the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic. 

“I think this is where I get a little competitive with myself thinking about it. The record really wasn’t what we wanted in the end at all which was frustrating.”

On the other hand, Gonzalez saw a lot of positives despite the record.

“But then if I look at it in another way, too, there was only one game where were truly outclassed,” said Gonzalez, whose squad won three out of four games after a 1-6 start but faded down the stretch with seven straight defeats. more

August 11, 2021

Visitors enjoyed Grounds For Sculpture on Sunday afternoon. The 42-acre sculpture park, museum, and arboretum in Hamilton features nearly 300 works by renowned artists. Timed admission tickets are required. (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)

By Anne Levin

A report issued Monday by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that global warming is nearly spiraling out of control, and humans are “unequivocally” responsible.

The deadly heat waves, fires, huge storms, and other weather extremes that have caused death and devastation across the globe this summer are going to get worse in coming years, the report says. But fast action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions offers a small glimmer of hope that some impacts can be limited. Others are too far gone.

Local environmentalists say the report is not entirely surprising. “This is a very grim picture of the future of the world,” said Jim Waltman, executive director of The Watershed Institute. “But I can’t say I’m surprised, because this is the sixth in a series that has been painting a very bleak picture. In part, what’s new here is the use of the word ‘unequivocal.’ It is used over and over.”

Molly Jones, executive director of Sustainable Princeton, said the news is painful, but not unexpected. “I think it’s excellent that science continues to prove the truth we’ve all been made aware of,” she said. “But it is disheartening to see it is so highly driven by human impact, which is the main message.”
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By Anne Levin

Pending approval from various agencies, work is anticipated to begin by the end of this month on the transformation of 20 Nassau Street into the 180-room Graduate Hotel.

The project, which was approved by the Princeton Zoning Board last February, is to start with interior demolition of the three-story buildings on Chambers Street that will be taken down to make room for a section of the hotel, which will front Chambers Street. That part of the demolition has to be approved by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

“All of this is anticipated, pending approval by different agencies,” said Jim Purcell, Princeton’s land use engineer. “They expect to have that approval by the middle of this month, and begin by the end of the month.”

Exterior demolition is targeted for November. “We’ve asked them to make sure they’re not impacting traffic till after the holidays,” Purcell said.

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By Wendy Greenberg

Princeton Public Schools (PPS) students will begin the school year September 9 with a new director of student counseling services, and Riverside Elementary School students will have a new principal.

Dana Karas, who has previously worked in PPS, is the new director of student counseling services, replacing Kristina Donovan, who left the district earlier this month.

Ebony Lattimer, who has an extensive background in math, science, and special education, joins the district as the new Riverside principal, as Mark Shelley relocates to Pittsburgh.

Karas, who will officially join PPS at the end of September, worked as a middle school French teacher in Princeton early in her career. She later taught French at the Manalapan-Englishtown Middle School. She was a school counselor at Churchill Junior High School in East Brunswick, and in 1998, she became a school counselor at Freehold Township High School, a post she held until 2003 when she returned to Princeton High School as a school counselor.

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“Bark in the Park” returns to Washington Crossing Historic Park on Saturday, August 28 at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Human and canine participants can take a mile-long group walk through the park grounds. All dogs will receive a complimentary tricorn hat. The event is free. To register visit WashingtonCrossingPark.org/events.

UNDER THE PERGOLA: HomeFront staff and community members who made the Healing and Memorial Garden possible include, from left, Dana Irlbacher, Bay Weber, Liz Wasch, Marc Allen, Frederick Wasch, and the Rev. Dr. Hugh Brown. 

By Wendy Greenberg

Families at HomeFront have been able to reflect and enjoy the natural beauty of a new Healing and Memorial Garden at the Family Campus of the organization’s Family Preservation Center in Ewing.

HomeFront and community members formally dedicated the garden on July 30, with representatives of the All Saints’ Parish family and clergy, Mercer County nonprofit leaders, HomeFront staff, and HomeFront clients and guests all on hand. The garden’s centerpiece is a pergola constructed by volunteer members of All Saints’ Church in Princeton, which has had a long-term partnership with HomeFront, a Mercer County agency that helps homeless and at-risk families break the cycle of poverty.

“The garden is a natural extension of our Family Campus,” said Sheila Addison, director of the Family Campus. “Both are places to help families rebuild their spirits after dealing with the pain and trauma of homelessness.”
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By Anne Levin

At a meeting of Princeton Council Monday night, action was taken on ordinances and resolutions related to cannabis businesses, the 2021 Community Development Block Grant, and a study in connection with the town’s leaf and brush program.

The governing body heard a report from Planning Director Michael LaPlace on a zoning request from the Hun School, and an update on COVID-19 from Health Officer Jeffrey Grosser.

Mayor Mark Freda opened the virtual meeting by saying Council is hoping to resume in-person meetings on September 13.

Council member Mia Sacks reported that the town’s new transit partner, WeDriveU, will include extra hours of free bus service on Wednesdays and Fridays from 4-7 p.m., in addition to morning and evening hours.

“The town is finished with our side of this,” Sacks said. “We’re waiting for the state to sign off on a form certifying that WeDriveU complies with affirmative action and employee regulations.”

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STRONG SAPLING: This American chestnut tree planted in April 2020 at Mapleton Preserve in Kingston has taken well and is showing new growth. (Photo courtesy of Karen Linder)

By Wendy Greenberg

The now-scarce American chestnut tree could be making a comeback in New Jersey.

When a sapling was planted in April 2020 at Mapleton Preserve in Kingston, in lieu of a planned Arbor Day public planting that was canceled due to the pandemic, it was a step toward re-establishing the majestic American chestnut tree with hybrid saplings that may resist a devastating blight.

“We wanted to plant the little chestnut tree at Mapleton before it started coming out of dormancy in mid-April or so,” explained the planter, Michael Aucott of Hopewell, the site of similar plantings. “The best time to transplant a tree is when it is dormant, especially when transplanted as a bare-root tree, as the Mapleton tree was.”
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By Stuart Mitchner

The Robert Beck exhibit that opened July 30 at the James A. Michener Art Museum is titled “It’s Personal.” As Beck explains, “The majority of my paintings are done directly from the subject in one sitting. They depict where I am, what catches my interest, and what it feels like to be there .… The reason why I was drawn to a subject became part of the image. It got very personal.”

I feel the same way whether I’m writing about exhibits or books or films, or any other subject in the arts, and it’s why I think of these weekly adventures as columns, even though they’ve been categorized as “reviews” ever since I began writing them some 17 years ago.

Movie Mindset

In Beck’s stormy, mood-drenched street scene Love’s Notions and Novelties you can almost hear the gale-force wind and the water rushing in the gutter. Immediately I’m flashbacking through a stream of cinematic imagery, from the heavy-rain-with-gunshots-night of The Big Sleep, swept with film noir headlights gleaming on wet pavement, to a 21st-century television series like AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, where a father braves hurricane winds and lightning on a Christmas quest to buy Cabbage Patch Kids for his children.

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The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) will partner with Labyrinth Books to present a launch party for Colby Cedar Smith’s Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit (Andrews McMeel Publishing), the novel in verse debut from the Hopewell-based author and ACP creative writing instructor, on Thursday, August 12 at 6 p.m. The launch party will take place in the Taplin Gallery at the Arts Council. Labyrinth Books will be on site at the event with copies of the book available for sale.

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NEW MASTERS PROGRAM: Grammy-nominated conductor Dr. James Jordan is one of the esteemed faculty members students will work with in the new online Master of Choral Pedagogy program. 

Rider University’s new, fully online Master of Choral Pedagogy program provides working musicians from across the country and abroad access to advanced instruction in choral pedagogy. The 31-credit program emphasizes pedagogical methodologies aimed to improve the vocal health of choral singers, the efficiency of rehearsals, and the potential of performances.

Without leaving home, students will train with world-class faculty from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, including Grammy-nominated conductor Dr. James Jordan.

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NEW AND EXPANDED: Since its merger last month with The Princeton Festival, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) has expanded its board of trustees. From left are Princeton Festival Director Gregory J. Geehern, PSO Executive Director Marc Uys, PSO Board of Trustees Chair Stephanie Wedeking, and Edward T. Cone Music Director Rossen Milanov.

Recently elected Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) Board of Trustees Chair Stephanie Wedeking notified fellow trustees, board advisors, and staff last week of the July 31 legal closing finalizing the merger of the orchestra and The Princeton Festival.

While Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Inc. is the surviving company, The Princeton Festival remains intact as the PSO’s flagship summer performing arts program. Festival board members and Festival personnel are transitioning to new roles within the PSO.

“As a team, we sought to honor both organizations and emerge unified and singular, whilst defying the rules of math for a 1+1=3 outcome,” said Wedeking. “Overall, it was a relatively seamless process, which is a testament to the compatibility and commitment of both organizations.”

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“LETTER LOVE”: Illustrations by Gwenn Seemel are featured in “Letter Love,” her dual exhibition with artist Mic Boekelmann, on view through August 31 at the Princeton Public Library.

“Letter Love,” an exhibition by Gwenn Seemel and Mic Boekelmann, two visual artists who use the alphabet to inspire conversations about belonging and identity, is on view through August 31 at the Princeton Public Library.

Seemel’s focus is an animal ABC book made up of unusual fauna, polka-dot cubist artwork, and a word search embedded directly into the illustrations. Baby Sees ABCs, both as a collection of paintings and a book, is a celebration of the core truth of the alphabet: it is a group of symbols whose meaning we agree on. Every time we use letters and language, we are agreeing with each other once more. We are saying yes to working together, and yes to all the amazing things we can accomplish when we work together.
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“TAKING PAUSE”: Robin Resch’s project in Dohm Alley features photography triptychs that display a participant and something they identify as “irreplaceable” to them. Resch, Arts Council of Princeton artist-in-residence, invites the Princeton community to submit to a Virtual Response Wall after considering, “What is irreplaceable to you?”

What is irreplaceable to you? Princeton-based photographer and Arts Council of Princeton Artist-in-Residence Robin Resch asks the Princeton community to consider this challenging yet essential question.

On view in Princeton’s Dohm Alley through October 16, “Taking Pause” is a documentary collaborative portrait project that asks people to reflect on what matters most deeply to them. Resch’s photographic triptychs each display a participant, what he or she shared as being irreplaceable, and his or her story behind this choice.

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“WHAT I LEARNED”: This work by Chanika Svetvilas is part of “Sutured Resilience,” Artworks Trenton’s first full, in-person exhibition in over a year. It runs through September 4 at 19 Everett Alley in Trenton. An opening reception is Saturday, August 21 from 6-8 p.m.

Artworks Trenton presents “Sutured Resilience,” an exhibition that brings together three female artists — Jennifer Cabral, Kat Cope, and Chanika Svetvilas — who explore trauma, memory, and empowerment. The show, on view through September 4, invites the public to imagine a reality where strength is found in vulnerability expressed through text, photography, sculpture, drawing, mixed media, installation, video and participatory actions. Together the artists hold space for the community to witness transformation, healing, and the search for resolution. Each artist’s unique narrative traces their lived experience of trauma to re-envision a healing journey.
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EXPERIENCE AND EXPERTISE: “We are professional Plant Health Care specialists. This is our focus,” says Pepper deTuro, president of Woodwinds Associates, Inc. Shown with his father, Sam deTuro, who founded Woodwinds, he is proud of the family business’s longstanding reputation for excellent tree and shrub care.

By Jean Stratton

The cicadas have come and gone, but recurrent reminders remain. Clumps of brown leaves continue to fall from tree branches in which female cicadas laid their eggs.

This is not usually cause for concern, says Pepper deTuro, president and owner of Woodwinds Associates, Inc., the longtime tree and shrub specialists.

“The cicadas don’t harm a large, mature healthy tree. But a tree in decline or a very young tree might be at risk.”

Woodwinds has been providing helpful advice and expert service since its founding in 1967 by Sam deTuro, Pepper’s father. Located at 4492 Route 27 in Kingston, the company has been a mainstay in Plant Health Care, a special program, which is a form of integrated pest management.

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GOLDEN AGE: Ashleigh Johnson looks to pass the ball during her career with the Princeton University women’s water polo team. Last Saturday, superstar goalie Johnson helped the U.S. women’s national team win the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, making 11 saves as the U.S. defeated Spain 14-5 in the final. It was the third straight gold for the U.S. and the second for Johnson, who helped the squad prevail at the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

When Ashleigh Johnson was being recruited to play water polo in college, she shied away from heading west to play for one of the powerhouses of the game.

Instead, the Miami, Fla. native, who wanted to be a doctor, headed north to Princeton University where she could play the sport, not major in it.

Johnson emerged as a superstar for the Tigers in her freshman year in 2012-13, earning third-team All-American honors as she made 366 saves and had a .688 save percentage to help Princeton go 28-6. Building on that debut campaign, Johnson continued to dominate the next two seasons, adding more All-American honors and the CWPA Player of the Year award to her resume.

As a result of her exploits, Johnson started getting recruited by the U.S. national women’s team but she had her doubts about joining the program.
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Princeton University football star Jeremiah Tyler rushes the quarterback in a 2018 game. Last week, rising senior linebacker Tyler was named to the Buchanan Award watch list and as a Stats Perform third-team preseason All-American. The Buchanan Award is given to the top defensive player in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision). Tyler, a 6’2, 225-pound Detroit native, will be looking to build off a junior year in 2019 that saw him earn unanimous first-team All-Ivy League honors and named as one of two finalists for the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. During that campaign, Tyler accounted for 62 tackles, 24 of which were unassisted and 14.5 were for loss. Tyler has been a part of two Ivy League championship teams in his first three seasons, having helped the Tigers to league titles in 2016 and in 2018, when Princeton went 10-0. Tyler and the Tigers kick off their 2021 season at Lehigh on September 18.

RICHLY DESERVED: Rich D’Andrea makes a save during his career as a standout goalie for the Georgetown University men’s lacrosse team from 2003-6. D’Andrea, who also starred at the Peddie School and coached the Princeton Day School boy’s lax program to three Mercer County Tournament titles and two state Prep B crowns, was recently inducted into the New Jersey Lacrosse Hall of Fame. (Photo provided by Rich D’Andrea)

By Bill Alden

Although Rich D’Andrea played in the midfield when he took up lacrosse as a grade schooler in the early 1990s, it didn’t take him long to find a home at goalie.

“I always liked the idea of being on the field the whole game; there was something appealing about that,” said D’Andrea, who hails from Montgomery and was first exposed to the game when he visited his brother at a Princeton University lax camp.

“There just seemed to be an importance behind the position that I always appreciated. For me, I felt it was a way to make the team better; that is why I did it.”

Over the years, D’Andrea has made a lot of teams better. He starred for the Peddie School boys’ lax team where he helped the Falcons to a pair of state Prep A Titles, earned All-American honors and was twice named the New Jersey Goalie of the Year (2000, 2001). On the college level, D’Andrea was a three-year starter at Georgetown University, earning all-league honors and serving as a team captain. In 2014, he became the boys’ lax head coach at Princeton Day School and guided the Panthers to three Mercer County Tournament titles and two state Prep B crowns.

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SENSE OF COMMUNITY: Elise Ambra, 7, right, and her teammates get ready to compete in a meet this summer for the Community Park Bluefish swim team. The Bluefish program, which has become a venerable summer tradition in town, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. (Photo by Samein Prieste, provided courtesy of CP Bluefish)

By Bill Alden

For Nina Rossi, joining the Community Park Bluefish swim team as an 11-year-old ended up changing the course of her life in and out of the pool.

In the water, Rossi went on to become one of the greatest swimmers in Princeton High history, getting named as the outstanding girl performer at the Mercer County championship meet all four years of her career. As a senior in 2006, Rossi set the state record in the 100 butterfly and held school records in the 200 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 100 free, 100 fly, and 200 medley relay. She continued her swimming career at the University of Maryland, excelling in ACC competition.

Out of the water, her experience as a Bluefish coach helped lead her into education, as she became an elementary school teacher in Lanham, Md., and now serves as a testing coordinator in the Prince George’s County school system.

“It gave me something to do in the summer that was fun and relaxing,” said Rossi, 33, reflecting on her years with the Bluefish.

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MAKING A SPLASH: Ella Caddeau displays her form in a meet this season for the Princeton High girls’ swim team. Over the summer, Caddeau starred for the Community Park Bluefish swim team. In the season-ending Cicada Classic in late July, Middlebury College-bound Caddeau placed first in the women 15 and over 50-yard backstroke and 50 butterfly and helped the 200 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay both place first. The Bluefish finished first of seven teams in the overall standings at the meet, piling up 3,603.50 points with Country Pool Club Swim Team taking second at 1,761.50. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After the 2020 season for the Community Park Bluefish swim team was canceled due to the pandemic, Mike Uchrin was apprehensive as the program returned to action this summer.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect after a year off where we had no league, no meets, or anything like that,” said Bluefish head coach Uchrin.

“It is a little bit of a mystery what is it going to look like as far as practices as far as who is going to be there and the number of kids. I was very anxious about it at the start of the season.”

Uchrin’s anxiety turned to joy as the Bluefish enjoyed a banner summer.

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August 4, 2021

Lenox House, the brick building at Stockton Street and Library Place, was the scene of a two-alarm fire early Tuesday morning. (Photo by Carolyne Murff)