December 20, 2017

“All good things come to those who wait,” so goes the saying. The audience for New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s Friday night concert at Richardson Auditorium had to wait a bit for the orchestra to arrive through the snow, but following the late start, orchestra, chorus, and soloists presented a well-informed performance of George Frideric Handel’s perennial Christmas holiday favorite, Messiah. NJSO Music Director Xian Zhang took a unique and creative journey through a work which is enjoyable in any form, but so much more fun with an imaginative approach to performance practice. more

A WHITE (HOUSE) CHRISTMAS: Cantus, Westminster Conservatory Children’s Choir, and conductor Patricia Thel recently performed holiday songs at a White House event for diplomats. This was the ensemble’s seventh White House holiday performance since they were first invited to perform in 1999.

Cantus, Westminster Conservatory’s Children’s Choir, and its conductor, Patricia Thel, performed at a White House holiday reception on December 6. more

By Stuart Mitchner

When Doug Jones beat Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election last week, viewers who had lived and died, thrilled and chilled, yawned and dreamed through all 18 episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return felt a transcendental connection to the happy outcome. If we were smiling it was not only because a principled man defeated a scoundrel, it was knowing that a miracle was in the stars even before the allegations against Moore saturated the news. Given the power of the narratives and counter narratives circulating on television and the internet, we knew the impossible was possible.  more

By Kam Williams

Saoirse Ronan is only 23 and has already been nominated for an Academy Award twice: for Brooklyn (2015) and Atonement (2005). Now, she’s certain to land another nomination for her memorable performance as the title character in Lady Bird.

It’s hard to say whether three times will prove to be the charm for her, since this has been a banner year for actresses, with powerful performances turned in by competitors like Sally Hawkins, Frances McDormand, and Meryl Streep. Win or lose, Ronan deserves all of her accolades for her performance in a very demanding role as a tormented teen constantly in crisis.  more

PUTTING IN MYLES: Princeton University men’s basketball player Myles Stephens drives to the hoop in recent action. Last Saturday, junior star and tri-captain Stephens chipped in 16 points and four assists as Princeton defeated Cal Poly 80-60 in improving to 4-6.  Stephens, who had 19 points and eight rebounds in a 69-58 win over Monmouth on December 12, was later named the Ivy League Player of the Week. After playing at Southern Cal on December 19, the Tigers head across the Pacific Ocean to compete in the Diamond Head Classic from December 22-25 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Myles Stephens and his teammates on the Princeton University men’s basketball team, their 71-60 defeat at George Washington earlier this month proved to be a wake-up call. more

MAX EFFORT: Hun School boys’ basketball Max Gussen looks to unload the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Thursday, senior forward Gussen scored 14 points but it wasn’t enough as Hun lost 67-57 to the Perkiomen School (Pa.). The Raiders, who fell 69-58 to The Master’s School (N.Y.) on Saturday to drop to 2-7, are next in action when they host the Academy of New Church (Pa.) on January 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Max Gussen took a hit early on as the Hun School boys’ basketball team hosted the Perkiomen School (Pa.) last Thursday evening.

“I was a little off because I had the bloody nose in the beginning of the game so that took me off rhythm,” said senior forward Gussen. “Coming back I felt pretty good.” more

LOCKED IN: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey goalie Boris Gorelenkov prepares to stop a shot in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, Gorelenkov made 24 saves as PDS edged perennial powerhouse Delbarton 1-0. The Panthers, who defeated Rye Country Day (N.Y.) 7-0 last Thursday to improve to 6-3, are next in action when they host their annual Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational from December 29-30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Boris Gorelenkov realized that the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team faced a major challenge as it hosted perennial powerhouse Delbarton last Wednesday.

“We knew that they were a team that has won 95 percent of their games over the last 10-15 years,” said PDS senior goalie Gorelenkov. more

GRAND MOMENT: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Jalynn Spaulding dribbles upcourt in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior guard Spaulding eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in her career as Stuart rolled to a 60-35 win over Princeton Day School. Spaulding scored 15 points in the victory to give her 1,008 points in her career. The Tartans, who improved to 5-1 with a 45-19 win over New Hope-Solebury High (Pa.) last Friday, are next in action when they host their annual Stuart Invitational Tournament from December 26-29. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jalynn Spaulding knew she was seven points away from reaching the 1,000-point mark in her career as the Stuart Country Day School basketball team hosted Princeton Day School last Wednesday but she wasn’t focused on that milestone. more

December 15, 2017

This holiday season, outfit your home with “smart” gifts.


December 13, 2017

Charles “Boomer” Plohn, son of Town Topics photographer Charles R. Plohn, enjoys his first meeting with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Morven Museum & Garden in Princeton. The museum’s annual Festival of Trees runs through January 7. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

Three different speakers at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University last week warned of the precarious state of our democracy.

On Monday, Charlie Sykes, MSNBC contributor, former host of WNYC’s Indivisible and author of 2017 How the Right Lost Its Mind, described how he “was excommunicated from conservative circles for not supporting Donald Trump.” He also claimed that “the damage to the culture is going to be long-lasting,” and called for “a coalition of the decent from both parties” to come together in opposition to the current status quo in Washington. more

By Anne Levin

A lot has changed since Princeton Council adopted the Sustainable Princeton Community Plan in 2009.

The former Borough and Township have consolidated. Sustainable Princeton has become an independent nonprofit organization. But the plan’s aim of addressing the town’s environmental impact, and developing a long-term strategy toward achieving a truly sustainable community, have remained the same. more

By Anne Levin

At its meeting Monday evening, December 11, members of Princeton Council had a chance to question Princeton University administrators about the school’s plans for expansion over the next 10 years. Originally announced last April, an updated version of the proposal, with some new details, was released last week.

While generally enthusiastic about the ambitious framework for several development projects that will accommodate a larger undergraduate student body and reach beyond the current campus to University-owned property south of Lake Carnegie, the governing body posed questions about the project’s size, scope, and relationship to the town. more

CHANGING HUNGER: John Witherspoon Middle School students visited the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank in Ewing the day before Thanksgiving as part of the school’s Students Change Hunger food drive that collected 11,464 pounds of food. (Photo Courtesy of John Witherspoon Middle School)

By Donald Gilpin

John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS) students, their families, teachers, and staff have come together with community partners to collect almost 12,000 pounds of food for the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank.

Kelly Riely, faculty advisor to the Do Something Club, which organized the drive, expressed her appreciation “for the awesome outpouring of food and money donations,” pushing JWMS to easily surpass its original goal of 10,000 pounds.  more

Tumbles of Princeton is the newest learning center in the area. The gym specifically geared to children held a grand opening celebration on Saturday, December 9, at their new location in the Princeton North Shopping Center. Tumbles caters to ages four months to 12 years with structured classes, birthday parties, and a children’s gym.

Terhune Orchards on Cold Soil Road will hold seasonal events at the farm in January. “Read and Explore: Gingerbread Man” is Tuesday, January 16 at 10 a.m. and Saturday, January 20 at 10 a.m. “Wassailing the Apple Trees” is Sunday, January 28, 1-4 p.m.

The Gingerbread Man event is part of Terhune’s winter education series, following the Read and Pick Program. At the first program, participants will read The Gingerbread Man and then each child will decorate a big gingerbread man cookie to take home. Registration is requested. The fee is $7 per child.  more

By Anne Levin

Last Saturday’s snowstorm turned Princeton into a picture-perfect winter scene. But it was no gift to area retailers. The expected holiday shopping crowds were scared away by the weather, which turned out to be less of a threat than anticipated.

Despite the slowdown, shopkeepers are hoping to recoup in the two weekends left before December 25. “The snow was beautiful, but it actually kept people away,” said Rob Menapace, owner of Homestead Princeton on Palmer Square’s Hulfish Street. “Year after year, Princeton is ranked as one of the top 10 Christmas towns in the state. It’s a magical kind of place. So it was strange. But there were five weekends this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so perhaps people just have more time. I think we’ll see a rush in the coming weeks. I hope so.” more

By Donald Gilpin

Trixie Sabundayo, English teacher, department chair, and a senior administrator at Marin Academy (MA) in San Rafael, Calif., for the past 13 years, will be taking charge as upper school head at Princeton Day School (PDS), effective July 1.

“I believe that good leadership is about building trusting partnerships and being a clear, transparent communicator,” she said. “Both of these have been the backbone of my philosophy as an educator, and have served me well as a teacher and leader.” more

Eric Swartzentruber, a Princeton native who recently moved back to the area after nine years as director of admissions at the Stoneleigh-Burnham School in Massachusetts, will be joining the Princeton Montessori School (PMS) leadership team as director of enrollment. In addition to directing enrollment and admissions operations at PMS, he will act as liaison with the greater Princeton community.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

In the unlikely event that the New York Times Book Review or anyone else ever asks me what books are on my night stand, the tome that’s been there for years waiting for me to write about it is Carl Van Vechten’s The Tiger in the House: A Cultural History of the Cat (Knopf 1920), which has been called “the best single treatise on the cat” and “a treasure house of literary gossip.” Like so many of my books, this one, the 1936 edition, has passed through the secondhand bookstores of Manhattan and therefore embodies three of my favorite things — cats, used bookstores, and New York City. more

Library Live at Labyrinth will present Paul Halpern discussing his book The Quantum Labyrinth: How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Reality at Labyrinth Books on Thursday, December 14 at 6 p.m.

According to a starred review in Booklist, “Readers soon see that Feynman achieved his breakthroughs in physics by collaborating with his mentor, John Wheeler …. With the same clarity that has attracted readers to Einstein’s Dice and Schrödinger’s Cat and his other books of popular science, Halpern retraces the way this unlikely pair smashed traditional understandings of time …. A compelling reminder that even the most triumphant science comes from vulnerable humans.”  more

QUALITY CARE: “I have a broad area of practice. I do it all, and I love the diversity. With dermatology, we do a lot of procedures in the office. I can see the problem and then treat it properly. We see all kinds of patients — all ages, men, women, children, even babies.” David Nieves, MD, makes sure that all his patients receive quality care and attention.

By Jean Stratton

Too much sun is definitely not your friend, says dermatologist Dr. David Nieves.

“I want people to know there is no such thing as a healthy tan. It damages the skin. The best skin maintenance is to stay out of the sun. If not, take protective measures: wear sunscreen — at least 30 SPF or greater. Wear a hat, sit under an umbrella. Avoid unnecessary exposure.” more

“FEATHER & FLIGHT”: This photograph of a great horned owl mother and baby by Wayne
Domkowski is part of the “Feather & Flight: Juried Exhibit” at the D&R Greenway Land Trust Johnson Education Center in Princeton. The exhibit, which features more than 80 works of art celebrating birds, runs through February 9.

D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center galleries take flight with more than 80 works of art in “Feather & Flight: Juried Exhibit,” on view through February 9.

“Birds are more than beautiful; they are bellwethers of environmental health,” says Curator Diana Moore. “This exhibit celebrates birds, and also highlights conservation’s significant role in supporting crucial travel patterns for the 4,000 species that migrate. Because of New Jersey’s location along the Atlantic flyway, our natural resources are critical to avian survival.” more

The Arts Council of Princeton and McCarter Theatre Center have announced “Cows in Our Town,” a new community-wide public art project created to promote awareness of local artists and McCarter’s upcoming production of Marie Jones’ Stones in His Pockets. Through a series of art installations placed in local businesses “Cows in Our Town” will run December 20 — February 11 and aims to enhance the around-town experience for visitors and Princeton residents alike through the holiday season and into the new year.  more

“A CHRISTMAS CAROL”: Performances are underway for “A Christmas Carol.” Directed by Adam Immerwahr, the play runs through December 31 at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre. Scrooge (Greg Wood, center) joins the company in a celebratory dance. The cast combines professional actors with members of a community ensemble and young ensemble. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

McCarter’s annual production of A Christmas Carol is playing at the Matthews Theatre. Adapted by David Thompson and directed by Adam Immerwahr, the show is a warm celebration, both of Christmas and theater. The uniformly talented cast combines professional actors, who are members of Actors’ Equity Association, with nonprofessional performers who comprise a community ensemble (for ages 14 and older) and a young ensemble. more