August 7, 2019

GOLDEN MOMENT: Lior Levy displays the gold medal he earned for helping the U.S. open men’s basketball team win the title contest at the 14th Pan American Maccabi Games in Mexico City last month. The former Princeton High and Franklin & Marshall standout emerged as a key frontcourt reserve for the squad.

By Bill Alden

After wrapping up his college basketball career for Franklin & Marshall in 2017, Lior Levy headed to New York City to work in the Teach for America program.

The former Princeton High standout immersed himself in his day job, teaching at Herbert Lehman High in the Bronx with little time for hoops.

But earlier his year, Levy was motivated to start spending more time in the gym as he was chosen to play for the U.S. men’s open basketball team at the 14th Pan American Maccabi Games in Mexico City this July. more

HIGH HOPES: Wesley Leggett flies high to boot the ball last fall in his senior campaign for the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team. Leggett, who led the area with 22 goals in 2018, will be starting his college career next week when he hits the field for preseason practice with the University of Connecticut men’s soccer team. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over the years, the University of Connecticut has developed into an athletic powerhouse, highlighted by the women’s basketball program with its record 11 NCAA titles and the men’s hoops winning four national crowns of its own.

Several Husky athletes have gone on to star in the pro ranks, including Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi of the WNBA, Ray Allen and Kemba Walker in the NBA, along with George Springer of the Houston Astros and Byron Jones of the Dallas Cowboys.

Next week, Wesley Leggett will aim to start a new chapter in the school’s storied sports legacy, hitting the field for preseason training in his freshman season on the UConn men’s soccer team. more

BITTERSWEET: Zoe Bitterman displays her breaststroke form in a race earlier this summer for the Community Park Bluefish swim team. Bitterman starred at the Princeton-Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in July, earning PASDA MVP honors for the 10-and-under girls. The Bluefish won their fifth straight Division 1 crown at the meet, piling up 3,649 points with Lawrenceville Swim Association well behind in second with 2.159.50. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Boasting a throng of 220 athletes, the Community Park Bluefish swim team continued its dominance of the Princeton-Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) this summer.

Competing at the PASDA championship meet in late July at the West Windsor Waterworks, the Bluefish cruised to their fifth straight Division 1 team title, piling up 3,649 points with Lawrenceville Swim Association well behind in second with 2.159.50. That victory culminated a 2019 campaign that saw the Bluefish go undefeated in dual meet competition for a fifth straight season. more

July 31, 2019

It was a lovely evening last Thursday for Dueling Piano Night on the Green, which featured two performers leading all-request sing-alongs of popular hits. The event is also scheduled for August 1 and 8. Participants share their favorite sing-along songs in today’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Erica M. Cardenas)

By Donald Gilpin

A community tribute for Laura Mitnaul Wooten, hosted by the Wooten family, on Saturday, August 3 at 10 a.m. at the Arts Council of Princeton Paul Robeson Center will launch this year’s week-long Joint Effort Princeton Witherspoon-Jackson Safe Streets Program.

Wooten, who died at age 98 in March of this year, was the longest serving — 79 consecutive years — election poll worker in the United States.

Saturday’s event will include a Community Salute Brunch at 10 a.m., followed by a Tribute to Laura Wooten Recognition Program at 11:30 a.m. celebrating her life through a historical display of videos, pictures, proclamations, articles, awards, personal stories, and other memorabilia and recognizing her service to the local, state, and national efforts to encourage citizens to vote.

Joint Effort Safe Streets has also announced the panel for its Tuesday, August 6 critical issues discussion on the future of Princeton. The community dialogue taking place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. will feature an introduction and perspective on the future of Princeton by Princeton Future Chairperson and Princeton Design Guild Architect Kevin Wilkes, followed by a response panel discussion. more

By Anne Levin

Princeton Council is looking into a replacement for the Curbside Organics Program that was suspended in February. At a meeting July 22, Municipal Administrator Marc Dashield outlined a possible public/private partnership that would have the town doing the hauling, and a private contractor processing the material. Council members indicated they are interested in pursuing the possibility.

“There is a unique opportunity we have,” Dashield said. “We have been in discussions with MetLife Stadium, and they have a digester they are not using anymore, and they are willing to donate it.”

Dashield said it would cost the town about $20,000 to repair dents and rust in the digester, and to move it to the local area. Representatives of the town visited the stadium to inspect the digester, and have been told by the manufacturer that it is otherwise in good shape. more

WHO DECIDES?: Veronica Olivares Weber, a former resident of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, spoke to the three panelists — (from left) Elizabeth Kim of the Historic Preservation Commission, Leighton Newlin of the Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood Association, and Shirley Satterfield of the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society — at Saturday’s discussion of public art in the Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District. (Photo by Donald Gilpin)

By Donald Gilpin

A diverse gathering of about 70 met at the First Baptist Church of Princeton on John Street, Saturday morning, July 27, to grapple with the question of public art in general, and, more specifically, public art in the Witherspoon-Jackson (W-J) Historic District.

Sponsored by the Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood Association (WJNA) in response to a mural project proposed by the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP), the meeting was not to discuss the ACP plan and “NOT to come to a decision but to begin a conversation and dialogue among the people who live in the neighborhood,” as the WJNA invitation flier noted.

“We are backing up the process and starting it all over again where we believe it should have begun in the first place, to get input from the community before it went anywhere else,” WJNA Chairman Leighton Newlin told the gathering.  more

GREEN OVALS: The Historical Society of Princeton is introducing a digital tour and hosting a talk on “green oval buildings,” which feature plaques signifying that they are among Princeton’s oldest remaining structures.

By Anne Levin

Look closely at some of Princeton’s oldest buildings, and you will notice a small green oval plaque tacked discreetly onto the facades. Installed 43 years ago as part of the Historical Society of Princeton’s (HSP) celebration of the country’s Bicentennial, they signify structures of 18th-century vintage.

There is a plaque on The Barracks, at 32 Edgehill Street. The Stony Brook Meeting House on Quaker Road has one. So do Castle Howard at 30 Castle Howard Court, the Old Stone House at 487 Stockton Street, and the Maclean House on the Princeton University campus. There is even a green oval on PJ’s Pancake House at 154 Nassau Street.

Yet few people, even the most devoted history buffs, are aware of these markers. With that in mind, the HSP has introduced a new digital tour of the identified buildings on its mobile app. The tour was designed by Abbie Minard, a rising senior at Princeton University and an intern at the HSP for the past nine weeks. more

By Anne Levin

American Repertory Ballet (ARB) will become a Founding Resident Company of the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC) this fall. The 23-story, mixed-use project in New Brunswick’s downtown will contain two proscenium-style theaters and additional rehearsal space for the ballet company, including studios for its DANCE POWER program and an expanded New Brunswick presence for Princeton Ballet School (the school will maintain its Princeton Shopping Center and Cranbury studio locations).

The ballet company also announced this week that longtime artistic director Douglas Martin “will be pursuing other opportunities,” and a national search is underway for a new artistic director. Martin has been in the position since 2010. He was a leading dancer with the company from 1993 until becoming artistic director. “ARB thanks Mr. Martin for his longtime service and wishes him all the best on his future endeavors,” a press release reads.

During ARB’s search for a new artistic director, Executive Director Julie Diana Hench will assume artistic responsibilities “and has assembled a strong leadership team to work directly with the company,” the release reads. Hench was a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet and the Pennsylvania Ballet before serving for two years as executive director of Juneau Dance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska. She came to ARB in 2017. more

By Donald Gilpin

Former School Board Member Dafna Kendal will join incumbents Debbie Bronfeld and Greg Stankiewicz and new candidate Susan Kanter on the ballot in the November 5 election for three spots on the ten-member Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE).

According to the Mercer County Clerk’s Office, at the Monday, July 29 4 p.m. filing deadline, there were just four candidates for the three positions with three-year terms on the Princeton BOE. Bill Hare, whose term ends on December 31, 2019, will not be running for re-election.

Kendal, a lawyer with a son at Princeton High School (PHS) and a daughter at John Witherspoon Middle School, served on the BOE from 2016 through 2018, chairing three different committees and filling the post of vice president for part of her tenure. She was defeated in a close election last fall, as two newcomers, Brian McDonald and Daniel Dart, along with incumbent Betsy Kalber Baglio, won the three available spots. more

Local Students Earn Medals at Biology Olympiad

A Princeton High School (PHS) student and two West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South (WWPHSS) students were among the medal winners at the 17th Annual USA Biology Olympiad National Finals held at UC San Diego June 22 to July 3.

PHS’ John Yang and WWPHSS’ Richard Chai earned bronze medals, while WWPHSS’ Atharv Oak won a silver medal. Nearly 10,000 students from 498 schools and 45 states participated in the nationwide high school competition sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Education.

PHS and Montgomery Students Participate in ACLU Institute

Riley McMahon from Princeton High School and Sara Ahmed and Sinjit Bhattacharya from Montgomery High School joined almost 1,000 students from every state in the country July 20-26 at the American Civil Liberties Union’s annual Summer Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Before I put my moviegoer cards on the table, I should say upfront how much I enjoyed Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood. I found more to like and even love in it than in anything I’ve ever seen by the director of that iconic cinematic sugar rush, Pulp Fiction (1994). If you asked me my favorite moments in the films of Wim Wenders or Jim Jarmusch (not to mention, not yet, Sergio Leone), I could go on for an hour and still have more to say. With Tarantino, it usually comes down to the moment when John Travolta and a barefoot Uma Thurman do the Twist in a nightclub dance contest, Thurman’s character having just told Travolta’s character that his gangster boss, her boyfriend, killed a man for massaging her feet. After that, the sugar began losing its kick and I had second thoughts about every single blood-bright bravura scene. But there was no denying the excitement of a new thing under the Hollywood sun. The mere fact that there was so much to talk and argue and bitch about was an accomplishment in itself.

With Tarantino’s latest still fresh in mind, I have no second thoughts worth mentioning about the interplay between Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton, a fading TV cowboy, and Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth, his charismatic stuntman double, driver, man Friday, and drinking buddy. I enjoyed watching the two speeding around LA in Dalton’s white Caddy, and the way Tarantino caught the nighttime, neon-branded, Sunset Strip spirit of the time and place. While DiCaprio gives an Oscar-worthy performance, Pitt supplies old-fashioned star power with his warmly earthy, good-humored alternative to the dour heroes played by Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen. He’s a joy to watch at all times, whether he’s smilingly destroying an insufferably arrogant Bruce Lee (Mike Moh), going through the elaborate routine of feeding his pit bull Brandy, or fixing the television aerial on the roof of Rick’s Cielo Drive home, which just happens to be located in the immediate vicinity of the crime-scene-to-be inhabited “in real life” by Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. more

“A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Directed by Maeli Goren, the play runs through August 4 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Nick Bottom (Chamari White-Mink, center) entertains the company with a play within the play. (Photo by Kirsten Traudt)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Princeton Summer Theater is presenting a bold, somewhat abstract reinterpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. William Shakespeare’s comedy (c. 1595), in which fairies disrupt the romantic lives of ancient Athenians, is an apt choice for a season whose mission is to “explore love in all its forms.”

Director Maeli Goren has added an environmental focus, going so far as to begin the play with a speech that does not appear in the script until the second act. Titania, Queen of Fairies, offers this warning: “The spring, the summer, the childing autumn, angry winter change their wonted liveries, and the mazèd world, by their increase, now knows not which is which. And this same progeny of evils comes from our debate, from our dissension.” more

AWARD-WINNER: Actor Denzel Washington is the recipient of Crossroads Theatre Company’s Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee Living Legends Award.

On October 19, actor Denzel Washington will accept Crossroads Theatre Company’s inaugural Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee Living Legends Award, at a fundraiser at the Heidrich Hotel and the State Theatre in New Brunswick.

The gala will feature special performances by Crossroads alumni, as well as receptions. Crossroads, a resident member of the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, is in its fourth decade of being a gateway for black theater. more

ECLECTIC SEASON: Ailey II is among the dance, music, and theater attractions at McCarter Theatre this coming season.

Special Programming Director William W. Lockwood has  announced the lineup for the 2019-2020 Dance, Music, and Signature Series at McCarter Theatre Center. Each series will feature a mix of acclaimed musicians, dance companies, and performing artists, including several returning favorites and McCarter debuts.

“This year’s schedule contains some of my very favorite artists, including some I’ve been trying to book for a long time,” said Lockwood. “McCarter is unique in its reputation as a home for artists from around the world. No other institution in the country presents a full-time Theater Series alongside a full schedule of presented events quite like McCarter does, and no other does it better.” more

“COLOR VISION”: Works by Helen Mazur, above, and Catherine J. Martzloff, below, along with paintings by artist Debbie Pisacreta, will be featured in an exhibit at Small World Café, 254 Nassau Street, August 6 through September 3. A reception is August 17 from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Small World Café, located at 254 Nassau Street, Princeton, will host a small group show featuring three local New Jersey artists, Catherine J. Martzloff, Helene Mazur, and Debbie Pisacreta. The exhibit will be on view from August 6 through September 3. A reception, which is open to the public, will be held on Saturday, August 17 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. more

BRONX TALE: Former Princeton University standout David Hale fires a pitch in recent action for the New York Yankees. Hale has emerged as a key middle relief pitcher this summer for the Yankees, going 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA in 19 games through July 29. (Photo provided courtesy of the New York Yankees, all rights reserved).

By Justin Feil

David Hale expected there would be some travel in his baseball career, but he could never had imagined the extent of it.

The Princeton University graduate has been around the world for baseball.

“It’s all more than I would have expected,” said Hale, who went on to graduate from Princeton in 2011 after being drafted in 2009.

“It was always a dream. I think that’s why I chose Princeton. I had the ability to go there and they were looking at me. Going to that school gave me a plan. Baseball was a back-up plan. I know how fast baseball can end so I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself to just be a baseball player. I’m glad I got my degree from Princeton. It’s something I hope to use someday.” more

PULLING AHEAD: Morgan Linsley, center, competes for the U.S. U-19 women’s four in recent action. Recent Princeton High grad and Duke University commit Linsley is heading to Tokyo next week to row for the U.S. in 2019 World Rowing Junior Championships in Tokyo, Japan.

By Bill Alden

For Morgan Linsley, suffering a knee injury put her on the path to competing in rowing on the world stage.

After being involved in competitive swimming for nine years, Linsley hurt her knee in eighth grade and was forced to take a hiatus from the pool. When she recovered, Linsley realized that she needed to find a new athletic outlet as she entered her freshman year at Princeton High in 2015.

“I saw that I had lost a lot of my swimming ability since I had to take a whole year off,” said Linsley.

“I wanted to try a new sport. My knee doctor was the wife of the Princeton men’s crew coach [Greg Hughes] and she said I could be a good rower so give it a shot.” more

FAB FOUR: Recent Stuart Country Day School grad Annie Huber, third from left, enjoys the moment after helping the Princeton National Rowing Association Mercer Junior Rowing (PNRA-Mercer) Youth Men’s 4 with coxswain take second at the USRowing Youth National Championships last month in Sarasota, Fla. The boat included Brady Stergion (Notre Dame High), Jack Gallagher (Council Rock North), and juniors Leon Deng (Princeton High) and Grant Smith (Montgomery High) in addition to coxswain Huber.

By Bill Alden

In her junior season with Princeton National Rowing Association Mercer Junior Rowing (PNRA-Mercer) in 2018, Annie Huber wasn’t expecting to guide her Men’s Four to a medal at the USRowing Youth National Championships.

“I don’t think I understood how good we were; I knew that the boys on my boat were fast and that we rowed well together,” said coxswain Huber, who helped the crew place third and earn bronze. “I was thinking maybe we could make the A final.”

Losing three rowers from that boat, Huber wasn’t sure if this year’s four could make a big run at nationals. more

BLAZE OF GLORY: Jude Blaser takes a swing last week at the Babe Ruth Middle Atlantic Regional. Blaser, a Princeton resident, helped the West Windsor-Plainsboro 14U all-star team reach the quarterfinals of the competition, which was held at Switlik Park in Hamilton. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the West Windsor-Plainsboro 14U all-star team had already clinched a spot in the quarterfinals of the Babe Ruth Middle Atlantic Regional, it kept scrapping as it faced SORENSCO (Southern Rensselaer County, N.Y.) in a pool play game last Wednesday night.

WW-P yielded two runs in the top of the first inning in the contest played at Switlik Park in Hamilton but answered back quickly as Jude Blaser knocked in a run in the bottom of the frame. Jack Durbin added an RBI in the bottom of the third to knot the game at 2-2.

After SORENSCO broke the deadlock with two runs in the the top of the fourth, Kenny Schiavone blasted a homer over the left field wall in the bottom of the sixth to narrow the gap to 4-3. more

BLUE THUNDER: Loyaltees star Zahrion Blue flies to the hoop earlier this season in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League. Last Monday, former Princeton High star Blue poured in a game-high 29 points as top-seeded and defending champion Loyaltees defeated second-seeded NJ Spiritwear 88-45 in game one of the best-of-three championship series. Game two is slated for Wednesday evening at the Community Park courts with game three, if necessary, to take place on August 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Zahrion Blue is saving his best for last as he stars for the Loyaltees squad in the Princeton Recreation Department Men’s Summer Basketball League.

Former Princeton High star and current Lincoln University standout Blue poured in 35 points as top-seeded and defending champion Loyaltees defeated second-seeded defeated eighth-seeded Team NRGY 83-62 in a playoff quarterfinal contest last Wednesday.

Two days later, Blue tallied 19 points to help Loyaltees overcome a 40-30 second half deficit against fifth-seeded Sakana and pull out a 52-50 win in the semis. more

July 24, 2019

Sixty acres of land on Mountain View Road near Cherry Valley Road will become part of the largest green belt in Montgomery as a result of Montgomery Township’s recent acquisition of two parcels, totaling 85 acres. The piece has attracted several land development proposals over the years, but the Township is committed to its preservation.

CANVAS FOR A MURAL?: The wall of Lupita’s Groceries, on Leigh Avenue, facing John Street in the Witherspoon-Jackson (W-J) section of Princeton, has been proposed as the site for a mural, under the sponsorship of the Arts Council of Princeton. But many local residents have concerns about that. A Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood Association meeting this Saturday will discuss the use of public art in the W-J Historic District. (Photo by Donald Gilpin)

By Donald Gilpin

A mural, proposed by the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) to cover the wall of Lupita Groceries on Leigh Avenue, has stirred up controversy among the residents of the Witherspoon-Jackson (W-J) community and beyond, while raising issues surrounding the use and purpose of pu blic art.

“It’s only paint,” said Maria Evans, ACP artistic director and project director for the proposed mural, but she acknowledged that the question of the mural is complex and involves far larger questions.

A meeting at the ACP last month, described as lively and at times heated, did not come to a conclusion on the future of the proposed mural.  more

By Anne Levin

Princeton Council passed a resolution Monday, July 22 in support of the town’s Climate Action Plan, following an update on the measure by Sustainable Princeton. The 96-page proposal is focused on resilience, making sure that Princeton is prepared for the extreme weather that has become a regular occurrence.

“It’s real, and it’s happening here,” said Molly Jones, Sustainable Princeton’s executive director, as rain pelted the plaza outside Witherspoon Hall. Jones cited several incidences of flooding, extreme heat, and falling trees caused by weather during the past three weeks. “Much of the choir is here tonight, but I wanted to reiterate the challenge of what we are facing.”

Coming up with the plan, the organization’s steering committee consulted with members of the community at schools, churches, and a “Greenfest” that was attended by 700 people, said Christine Symington, programming director. A draft of the plan, posted online, received several comments. Princeton’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, Board of Health, Environmental Commission, Public Transit Advisory Committee, Shade Tree Commission, and the Sustainable Princeton Board of Trustees have all provided letters of support. more

By Anne Levin

Sixth-generation Princetonian and historian Shirley Satterfield was honored with an award of recognition at the Monday, July 22 meeting of Princeton Council. A standing-room-only crowd at Witherspoon Hall gave Satterfield, whose knowledge of local history and activism has made her something of a local legend, an ovation as she accepted her award and expressed gratitude for the honor.

“I’m humbled and very thankful for this recognition,” Satterfield said after Council member Eve Niedergang presented her with the award. “Everything I do is a labor of love,” she added, quoting from a sermon by the Rev. Lukata A. Mjumbe, her pastor at Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church.

Satterfield paid tribute to numerous people and organizations with whom she has been involved during her ongoing career as a teacher, guidance counselor, researcher, historian, and tour guide. She asked members of each group to stand. Among them: the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, the Historical Society of Princeton, the former Princeton Borough Council, the current Princeton Council, Not in Our Town, Princeton’s Historical Commission, the committee to establish the Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District, the Paul Robeson House, the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, and the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society. She also singled out a group of her childhood friends. more