February 27, 2019

By Donald Gilpin

Jessica Winderweedle

A special session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) met in St. Louis over the past four days to determine the future of the UMC in regards to same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy.

Jess Winderweedle, lead pastor of Kingston United Methodist Church, and her congregation have been following the proceedings closely. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, Winderweedle lives in downtown Princeton with her wife. She is currently in the process of becoming ordained as a full-fledged minister of the church.

The conversation over the ordination of LGBTQ persons and the decision for clergy to perform same-sex weddings is one “that has been ongoing for the last 40 years in the UMC,” Winderweedle says, “and many Methodists are concerned that what may result in the end is a split within the denomination.”

Winderweedle, who has been part of Kingston UMC for several years and pastor since 2016, went on to note, “throughout my time at Kingston UMC, I have known it to be a place of wide welcome, despite the ongoing conflict within the UMC regarding LGBTQ persons.” more

By Anne Levin

Brett Bonfield

As he prepares to leave his post as executive director of Princeton Public Library for a new job in Cincinnati, Brett Bonfield wants to make one thing very clear: his accomplishments during his three-year tenure in Princeton are a result of teamwork rather than his individual efforts.

“It is we — not I,” he said during an interview on Monday. “Everything we’ve done here has been a group effort. It has been just incredible to see what this team could do. Almost from the beginning, to be a part of that team was a great privilege.”

The library’s board of trustees announced on February 20 that Bonfield will depart on April 12 to become chief operations officer of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County in Ohio. more

CHAMPS AGAIN: Princeton Charter School (PCS) defeated Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School in the final round to win its second straight championship in the U.S. Department of Energy New Jersey Regional Science Bowl at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory last Friday. PCS competitors, from left, are Justin Feder, Jack Fan, Viraj Singh, and Jonathan Gu. (Photo by Elle Starkman/PPPL Office of Communications)

By Donald Gilpin

In a battle of the minds in which teams of top math and science students in the state compete in double-elimination rounds, Princeton Charter School (PCS) successfully defended its championship in the U.S. Department of Energy’s New Jersey Regional Science Bowl at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) on February 22 and 23.

PCS defeated Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School (BRMS) in the final middle school contest, 72-36. BRMS triumphed over John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS) in the seventh round of the competition, placing BRMS second and JWMS, 2017 champion and last year’s runner-up, in third. There were 16 middle school teams in this year’s regional science bowl. more

By Anne Levin

After hearing testimony from several residents at a meeting on Monday night, February 25, Princeton Council decided to postpone a vote on an ordinance that would eliminate Floor Area Ratio (FAR) bonuses allowing for larger buildings on undersized lots.

FAR is the total area of a building divided by the area of the lot it occupies, expressed as a percentage.

The ordinance was first introduced in 2015, but did not pass. Mayor Liz Lempert said it has been repeatedly requested by the town’s zoning department.

“It is an attempt to slow down and de-incentivize tear-downs on substandard lots, and hopefully take away a little of that phenomenon that’s taking over town,” said Zoning Officer Derek Bridger. “We feel this would give the Zoning Board the tool to deal with the number of substandard lots we see as variances. This formula sets the size of a house on a non-conforming lot. So we think it will help reduce some of the tear-downs that are taking place.” more

“FLI IS FLY”: First-generation, lower-income (FLI) students held a conference at Princeton University February 15-17 attended by more than 300 students from 34 colleges and universities, all seeking to promote the theme “From Moment to Movement: Capitalizing on Our FLI Experiences to Become Agents of Change in Our Communities.”  (Photo courtesy of Princeton University, Office of Communications, Fotobuddy Photography, 2019)

By Donald Gilpin

More than 300 students from 34 colleges and universities attended the fifth annual 1vyG Conference on the Princeton University campus February 15-17 to promote progress and change in how selective universities support lower-income and first-generation college students.

Organized by first-generation, low-income (FLI) Princeton students with the theme “From Moment to Movement: Capitalizing on our FLI Experiences to Become Agents of Change in Our Communities,” the conference was “a safe space for FLI students to meet each other, to connect with and empower each other, to have fun, and to think about changes we want to bring back to our communities,” according to Princeton sophomore and conference co-chair Anna Macknick.  more

“THE STREAM”: This painting by Daniel Garber is one of more than 130 works of art to be featured in the Gratz Gallery and Conservation Studio Modern Art and Fine American Paintings online auction on March 17. A special preview day is Saturday, March 16, from 12 to 5 p.m. at the gallery in Doylestown, Pa.

On March 17, at 11 a.m., Gratz Gallery and Conservation Studio is again partnering with Invaluable.com for its second Modern Art and Fine American Paintings Auction.

The online auction will include more than 130 lots of works by American and international artists. Included are a selection of fine American paintings and an array of impressionist, realist, modern art, abstract and surreal, and decorative art as well as small, unknown treasures and gems. The online catalog is available for viewing at gratzgallery.com, where there is also a direct link to the live auction site at Invaluable.com. more

“PINK SNEAKERS”: “La Feminista: Soy Yo?”, a photography and video installation by Trenton photographer Tamara Torres, is at Mercer County Community College’s James Kerney Campus Gallery February 28 to April 4. A community reception and artist talk are on Wednesday, March 6 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) will showcase works by Tamara Torres in the exhibit “La Feminista: Soy Yo?” The show runs from February 28 to April 4. The community is invited to a reception and artist talk with Torres on Wednesday, March 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. The talk starts at 6 p.m.

Torres, a Trenton native, survived abuse, discrimination, and homelessness, and has used her art as a platform for disadvantaged women worldwide. Her Puerto Rican heritage has also influenced her photography, which has been exhibited in New York, Chicago, London, and Rome.

Michael Chovan-Dalton, the gallery’s director and curator, observes that Torres’ project dives into feminism across cultures and generations. “It is an attempt to bridge the different experiences and identities within the feminist movement through dialogue,” Chovan-Dalton said. “In our current climate filled with great politicized anger and debate over the harassment and abuse of women, and equity for women in the workplace, Torres examines a foundational element of the current social, economic, and political struggle that can be a source of both strength and division among those seeking to be heard.” more

“RAINBOW VALLEY”: Maxine Shore’s painting is featured in the group show, “Awakenings,” at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville March 7 through March 31. Gail Bracegirdle, Bill Jersey, and Debbie Pisacreta will also exhibit paintings expressing their personal visions. An opening reception is Sunday, March 10 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Artists Gail Bracegirdle, Bill Jersey, Debbie Pisacreta, and Maxine Shore will exhibit paintings expressing their personal visions in a group show, “Awakenings,” on view March 7 through March 31 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. An opening reception is on Sunday, March 10 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Gail Bracegirdle is a representational artist whose watercolors are filled with light and color. She prefers to work from life or from sketches made on location in order to observe and capture the effects of direct and reflected light and shadow on her subject. A signature member of the Philadelphia Water Color Society, her paintings are actively exhibited in juried, group, and solos shows, have won awards, and are held in private collections in the United States, Europe, and Australia. more

Pirates and Captain Hook are pestering the Peter Pan and his band of lost boys in “Peter and the Starcatcher,” at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre March 8-17. Pennington Players presents the Tony-winning show, a prequel to J.M. Barrie’s novel “Peter and Wendy.” Visit www.KelseyTheatre.net for tickets. (Photo by Kyrus Keenan Photography)

By Nancy Plum

The giants of the opera world do not have much time to leave their stages and create innovative and cross-cultural programs for smaller audiences, but two such titans came to McCarter Theatre Center this past weekend to perform a bit of opera, American song, and spirituals — with a whole lot of entertainment. The career of bass-baritone Eric Owens has taken him from the Metropolitan Opera to interactive recitals for incarcerated youth to the maximum-security Attica correctional facility. His roles have ranged from Wagnerian to Aristotle Onassis to the delicate Mozart classics. This season, he has turned his attention in a new direction — a multicity vocal collaboration with tenor Lawrence Brownlee, a master of the 19th-century bel canto style of singing and also a leading performer in opera houses worldwide. Owens and Brownlee have teamed up this year for a recital of solo opera arias, duets, American song, and spirituals, and brought their unique partnership to McCarter Theatre this past Sunday afternoon with a program of Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, and Bizet, as well as a journey through American music. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Early in his monumental bicentennial biography Frederick Douglass:Prophet of Freedom (Simon and Schuster), David Blight pictures Douglass sitting in a small room in Lynn, Massachusetts in the winter of 1844-45 at work on his first book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Looking back on his time at the mercy of a “slave-breaker” (“I was broken in body, soul and spirit”), he writes of Sunday strolls to a nearby viewpoint from which he would peer out at the ships on Chesapeake Bay. “There,” in Blight’s words, “he would allow himself an occasional burst of imagination, a daydream he would ten years later capture in a beautiful and haunting metaphor of freedom.” Blight calls the brief excerpt that follows “a passage for the ages” that captures “slavery and freedom with artistry unparalleled in the genre of slave narrative.”

In another brief excerpt from the same page-long passage, Douglass “speaks directly to the ships, trying to reenter a teenager’s imagination” with “a psalmlike prayer of deliverance” that renders “in the music of words the meaning of slavery’s potential to destroy the human spirit.” According to Blight, the prayer ends in language “reminscent of slave spirituals” that makes it possible for “today’s readers” to “stand with Douglass in the dark night of his soul along their own Chesapeakes and sense the deepest of human yearnings in their own souls.” more

James Cone

Princeton University Professor of Religion Elaine Pagels, Professor and Chair of African American Studies at Princeton Eddie Glaude Jr., and Tara Bedeau, attorney and former graduate student of James Cone, will pay tribute to his life and work and discuss his posthumously published book Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian on Thursday, February 28 at 6 p.m. The Library Live at Labyrinth event will take place at Labyrinth Books, 122 Nassau Street.
 more

DEVOTED CAREGIVER: Live-in nanny and maid Cleo Gutierrez (Yalitza Aparicio), shown here with two of her young charges (Marco Graf and Daniela Demesa), hopes for a family of her own someday in “Roma,” which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Aparicio was nominated for Best Actress. (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Cleo Gutierrez (Yalitza Aparicio) is one of two live-in maids maintaining the home of Antonio (Fernando Grediaga) and Sofia (Marina de Tavira), a couple in crisis with four young children. They can afford the help, which includes a chauffeur, because he’s a prominent physician. But they also need the staff, since Antonio spends so much time supposedly attending “conferences” in Canada.

The delinquent dad explains his absence to the kids as being away on business. However, his long-suffering wife suspects that he’s just up to monkey business with his mistress, which explains why she’s not above begging him to cancel a trip. Luckily, Sofia has a shoulder to cry on in her mother, Teresa (Veronica Garcia), who lives with them, too. more

EYES ON THE PRIZE: Princeton University women’s basketball player Sydney Jordan eyes the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday evening, senior Jordan contributed five points and four rebounds to help Princeton defeat Columbia 65-59. Earlier in the day, Jordan was honored for being the co-winner of Princeton’s 2019 Moses Taylor Pyne Honor Prize, the highest general distinction available to an undergraduate. Princeton, who improved to 15-9 overall and 7-2 Ivy League with win over Columbia, was slated to play at Penn on February 26 before hosting Dartmouth on March 1 and Harvard on March 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Sydney Jordan doesn’t get a lot of curtain calls, but with 1.8 seconds left the Princeton University senior was taken out of a 65-59 win over Columbia on Saturday to a warm round of applause from the Jadwin Gym crowd.

“It was interesting,” said the Princeton University senior guard/forward. “It was funny.”

Jordan didn’t really want any more attention. She had her moment before the Tiger women’s basketball team held off Columbia, getting honored before tip-off for being the co-winner of Princeton’s 2019 Moses Taylor Pyne Honor Prize, the highest general distinction available to an undergraduate. She shared the award with fellow senior Annabel Barry. more

IN FLIGHT: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Charlie Durbin goes up for a shot last Saturday against Virginia. Senior midfielder Durbin matched his career single-game high with four goals, but it wasn’t enough as Princeton lost 12-11 in overtime to the Cavaliers. The Tigers, now 1-1, host No. 18 Johns Hopkins (1-2) on March 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After being sidelined for the 2018 season due to a knee injury, Charlie Durbin is thrilled to be back in action this spring for the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team.

“Sitting out last year really made me cherish lacrosse a lot more,” said senior midfielder Durbin, who hurt his knee in the fall of 2017.

“For a while, the only thing I really could do was practice shooting. It feels really good to be back out on the field with all of the guys. It makes every game feel a little bit more valuable.” more

TO THE MAX: Princeton University men’s hockey player Max Veronneau chases down the puck in recent action. Last Saturday, senior star Veronneau chipped in a goal and an assist as Princeton defeated St. Lawrence 5-3 in its final regular season home game. The Tigers, now 8-16-3 overall and 6-12-2 ECAC Hockey, play at Yale on March 1 and Brown on March 2 to wrap up regular season action. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over the last four years, Max Veronneau has produced a lot of highlight moments at Hobey Baker Rink for the Princeton University men’s hockey team.

Coming into his final regular season home last Saturday as Princeton hosted St. Lawrence, senior forward Veronneau had amassed 137 points on 47 goals and 90 assists. more

By Bill Alden

Ryan Schwieger is known around the Princeton University men’s basketball team for his low-key demeanor, speaking softly in a southern drawl.

But last Friday when sophomore guard Schwieger got the start for Princeton against visiting Cornell, he was ready to make some noise.

“Coach [Mitch Henderson] tells me to be aggressive; all of my teammates tell me to be aggressive,” said the 6’6, 205-pound Schwieger, a native of Matthews, N.C. “I just had that mindset going in and of going to the rim early.” more

FIRST IN HER CLASS: Princeton High wrestler Chloe Ayres, top, takes control in a bout this January against Nottingham High’s Stalin Arpi, which she won by a pin. This week, sophomore Ayres will be competing in the first-ever NJSIAA girls’ state championships in Atlantic City after winning the 105-pound title at the South Jersey girls’ wrestling region tournament. Joining Ayres in Atlantic City will be senior Alec Bobchin, who won the boys’ Region 5 title and became the first PHS wrestler to win two region crowns. He will be looking to improve on his eighth-place finish in last year’s state championships. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Chloe Ayres couldn’t hold it in after winning the 105-pound title at the South Jersey girls’ wrestling region tournament earlier this month.

“I started crying tears of joy,” said Princeton High sophomore Ayres. “I was trying to keep it together. I’m really excited to wrestle in Atlantic City.”

Ayres was blown away not just by the chance to wrestle in the girls’ state championships that begin this week in Atlantic City, but by the significance of even having a region meet. It wasn’t just that she won, or even that she was named Most Outstanding Wrestler (MOW) after winning twice by pin and shutting out Trenton’s Johnae Drumright, 9-0, in the final match. It was that it all came in the first-ever girls’ region tournament. more

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Keith Goldberg, right, gathers in the puck in recent action. Last Thursday, senior forward and captain Goldberg chipped in a goal and an assist as sixth seeded PHS topped 11th-seeded Jackson Memorial 8-4 in the opening round of the state Public B tournament. Last Monday, the postseason run for Goldberg and the Tigers came to an end as they fell 6-3 at third-seeded Westfield in the quarterfinals. The Tigers finished the winter with a 14-10-3 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Keith Goldberg and his teammates on the Princeton High boys’ hockey team came out with fire in their eyes as they hosted Jackson Memorial last Thursday at ProSkate to start play in the state Public B tournament.

Having suffered a disappointing 9-4 loss to Hun on the Mercer County Tournament final six days earlier, PHS was determined to bounce back from that setback.

“We came out a little flat against Hun and we didn’t want to come out flat today,” said Tiger senior forward and captain Goldberg.

“Me being a senior, I didn’t want this to be my last high school game. For the other guys, I think that motivated us to work a little bit harder. Everything we did wrong in the Hun game we wanted to fix and make sure we didn’t do today.” more

WILDLY SUCCESSFUL: Princeton High track senior star Nils Wildberg displays the medal he earned for winning the inaugural NJSIAA Indoor Meet of Champions Long Jump Showcase last week. Fighting through injury, the Dartmouth-bound Wildberg produced a best mark of 23’4 to win the competition.

By Bill Alden

Competing in two prestigious events last week, the Princeton High track program made history on both fronts.

Taking part in the Eastern State Championships on February 19 in New York City and the NJSIAA Indoor Meet of Champions (MOC) over the weekend at Toms River, PHS athletes recorded five personal bests, four school records, three MOC medals, and one individual state champion.

Senior Nils Wildberg, who has battled a knee injury and has been forced to sit out most of the winter season, returned triumphantly to win the inaugural MOC Long Jump Showcase, jumping 23’4. The Dartmouth-bound Wildberg’s victory marked just the seventh overall individual state title in PHS boys’ track history. Wildberg becomes the first PHS individual state champion in 36 years, joining Peter Sharpless (two titles – outdoor high jump 1980 and 1981) and Stephen Fletcher (Four titles – 55 hurdles indoors and 110 hurdles outdoors in both 1982 and 1983) as the only three boys athletes to ever achieve a state crown.  more

PASSING IT ON: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Brendan Rougas, left, passes the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Monday, senior guard and team captain Rougas scored a game-high 15 points as 14th-seeded PHS fell 60-50 at third-seeded Freehold in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group 4 sectional. The loss left the Tigers with a final record of 12-14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Brendan Rougas experienced mixed emotions, soaking in the scene as the Princeton High boys’ basketball team held its annual Senior Night ceremony last Thursday evening before hosting Morristown High.

“It was my final home game ever; it is very sad but also exciting, I am heading to a new chapter in my life,” said Rougas.

“I just want to thank our fans, from the time I was a freshman and then on JV and both years on varsity, we have had the best crowd in the CVC.” more

February 20, 2019

Players on the Hun School boys’ hockey team celebrate with student fans last Friday evening after Hun defeated Princeton High 9-4 in the Mercer County Tournament championship game. The triumph marked the sixth straight county crown for the Raiders. See page 41 for more details on the game. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Anne Levin

At the February 11 meeting of Princeton Çouncil, a report by the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee (CFAC) revealed that Mercer County consistently spends more than other New Jersey peer counties, affecting the tax burden for Princeton residents.

Although he specified that the benchmarking study is “a very preliminary, rudimentary analysis,” CFAC head Scott Sillars recommended that the municipality engage with Mercer County officials and neighboring towns in the county to look further into the issue.

Princeton’s property tax allocation for 2018 was 48 percent for school tax, 30 percent for county tax, and 22 percent for municipal purposes. As compared to Camden, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, and Union counties, considered peer counties, Mercer’s general purpose tax is 25 percent higher, according to CFAC’s study. “In every category we looked at, we found that Mercer spent more than the others,” Sillars said. more

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton University graduate students are hosting a day of action, including a rally and candlelight vigil, today, February 20, to call for the release of Xiyue Wang, a Princeton colleague and United States citizen who has been detained in Iran’s Evin Prison since 2016.

Wang was in Iran solely for scholarly purposes, learning the Farsi language and doing historical research for his Ph.D. dissertation, when he was arbitrarily and unjustly detained, according to Princeton University press releases. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has called for his immediate release, stating in September 2018 that the spying charge against Wang was false and that his conviction and imprisonment were unjust.  more

“NO EMERGENCY, NO WALL”: More than 300 activists gathered on Monday in Hinds Plaza outside the Princeton Public Library to protest President Trump’s emergency declaration to gain funding for a border wall. The Rev. Lukata Mjumbe (at microphone), one of ten speakers, urged the crowd to stay focused on issues of inequities in social justice, along with their focus on the wall. Co-organizer and rally moderator the Rev. Robert Moore looks on at right. (Photo by John Lien)

By Donald Gilpin

More than 300 spirited demonstrators gathered in Hinds Plaza outside the Princeton Public Library at noon Monday to protest President Trump’s emergency declaration to obtain funding for a border wall.

Warning against “an imperial presidency,” “fascism,” and the deterioration of democracy, ten speakers, including ministers, politicians, public officials, and others, expressed strong opposition to Trump’s actions and called for resistance on numerous fronts.

Blustery winds and cold temperatures did not temper the determination and anger of the speakers and their supporters, who repeatedly chanted “No Emergency, No Wall, No Wars,” and held up signs proclaiming “Stop Trump,” “Dictatorship is Un-American; Congress Rules the Purse,” “We Stand With Immigrants and Asylum Seekers,” “Fake Emergency, Fake President,” and other similar sentiments. more