June 17, 2020

FOR PETE’S SAKE: Pete Higgins shows his game face as he posed for a picture. Longtime Princeton Day School coach and teacher Higgins passed away earlier this month, leaving a huge void in the PDS and lacrosse communities. (Photo by Andrew Lee, provided courtesy of PDS)

Pete Higgins cut an intimidating figure on the sidelines over the years for the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse program, typically wielding a stick as he barked out colorful commentary to players and officials alike.

But underneath the burly Higgins’ gruff exterior beat a heart of gold as he was legendary for his catalog of humorous stories, his connections through the lacrosse world starting with his native Long Island, and most of all, his zeal in developing his players.

So when Higgins suddenly passed away after a brief illness (unrelated to COVID-19) earlier this month at age 57, the PDS and lacrosse communities were left heartbroken.

“It is clear that he had a infectious personality, everybody loved being around Higgs, everybody loved a good Higgs story,” said PDS boys’ lax head coach Joe Moore.

“It is hard to understand how much he impacted the PDS community. I think I have fully understood that in the last couple of weeks here since he passed. It seems like everybody in the PDS community really had some sort of special connection with Higgs and you see how he touched everybody in the PDS community in some way. That is so unique.”

Working at PDS for 23 years, taking on a variety of roles from teaching health and PE, coaching varsity and middle school lacrosse, coaching middle school basketball, working in the school weight room and being involved in its peer leadership program, Higgins crossed paths with thousands of students and families over the years. Things were also busy at home for Higgins with his wife, Rebecca, and their four children, Catie, Jane, Mickey, and Quinn. more

June 10, 2020

It’s been a good season for strawberries, which are now available for picking, with new rules, or just purchasing at Terhune Orchards on Cold Soil Road. The fields will remain open while supplies last. (Photo courtesy of Terhune Orchards)

By Anne Levin

Issues of race and law enforcement were the focus of Princeton Council’s virtual meeting Monday evening, June 8.

The governing body passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis, calling for an assessment of policy and procedures “to ensure racial equity is a core element of all municipal departments,” the resolution reads, among other objectives.

Commenting via emails that were read aloud, numerous members of the public called for defunding the local police force and redirecting money to affordable housing, mental health, human services, and other social programs. Delivering his regular report on Princeton Police Department activities, Chief Nicholas Sutter gave an emotional account of how the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer has affected him and the department, which he said has worked since 2013 to be diverse, transparent, and engaged in the community.

Responding to the public comments urging defunding the police, Councilman Dwaine Williamson expressed frustration. “Please don’t tell me you’re doing me a favor as a black man by advocating for something that will only play into the hands of people against Black Lives Matter,” he said. “Let’s talk about real progress and real things we can do to make our society better. It’s not doing me or 40 million black Americans a favor.” Later in the meeting, Williamson apologized for his heated response. “My intent was not to insult. I look forward to progressive and respectful dialogue where I don’t use words like ‘ridiculous’ and my emotions don’t come out,” he said.

Sutter said he first heard about the killing of George Floyd from his 16-year-old son. “He grew up being told that policing was righteous, just, and honorable,” Sutter said. “I still feel that way. But I saw on his face that night that he may have thought I’d been lying to him, or just giving him my perspective on policing. But he saw what I saw — a police officer commit murder. And it doesn’t even relate to my understanding of policing. It’s not even policing. It’s murder.” more

By Donald Gilpin

In Princeton’s battle to flatten the curve of coronavirus infections and to prevent the deadly virus from spreading over the past three months, contact tracing has been one of the Princeton Health Department’s most effective tools.

As restrictions lift, the town opens up, and Princeton residents venture from their homes into the streets, stores, and other public spaces, the Princeton Health Department’s team of contact tracers, expanded from 1.5 during “normal” times to its current group of 13, is prepared to combat any outbreaks that may occur.  The team includes volunteers, health department staff, municipal work staff, Princeton Public School nurses, and an intern from The College of New Jersey.

With only eight new COVID-19 cases in Princeton in the previous 14 days, as reported by the Health Department on Tuesday, as opposed to a 14-day total of 55 new cases during the height of the pandemic in the last week of April and first week of May, the flattening curve that can lead to a new normal, post-COVID situation is apparent. Contact tracing, says Municipal Health Officer Jeff Grosser, is a key component to help keep Princeton on track.

“With contact tracing you keep the cases low enough so that you can address them, treat them medically, and do the contact tracing you need to do with the team you have,” said Ann Marie Russell, a volunteer who has been working with the Princeton Health Department on contact tracing and oversight of the outbreak response at long-term care facilities. “Contact tracing helps Princeton manage COVID-19 cases at an ongoing low level, to prevent future surges, and to be able to reopen New Jersey as safely as possible.”

Emphasizing the necessity of sustained teamwork throughout the community, retired public health education consultant Francesca Calderone-Steichen, who has been working with the Princeton Health Department since April and has taken the lead on many local cases, noted, “The community has a critical role to play in damping this particular pandemic down.  Americans are great problem solvers and highly independent people, and we also like quick fixes, but we may not be able to do those things with this particular coronavirus, which is silent but infectious
inside people for up to 14 days.” more

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton High School (PHS) will be celebrating its 92nd commencement next Tuesday, June 16, with orchestral and vocal music; speeches by students, teachers, and administrators; and the presentation of diplomas to 353 students graduating in their caps and gowns.

It’s the school’s history-making, first-ever virtual graduation, and PHS is making the most of the power of electronics to create an event that goes beyond the possibilities of any normal year in-person event.

More than 300 of the degree recipients returned (with appropriate social distancing) toPHS in recent weeks to do in-person videos in their graduation regalia. Included in the ceremony presentation will also be additional photos and videos uploaded from home. Rumor has it, according to a PPS press release, that there will be two cameo appearances by celebrities who graduated from PHS in the past.

Jessica Baxter, who took over as PHS principal last summer, will be one of several speakers to address the graduates, along with Princeton Public Schools Superintendent Steve Cochrane.  And for the finale, there will be a “turning of the tassels” video montage following the presentation of the diplomas. more

AIRING THEIR FEARS: Racial injustice was the focus of a gathering last Sunday of concerned mothers and the Princeton Police Department outside Witherspoon Hall. More than 100 attended.

By Anne Levin

Even before the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Nakeisha Holmes-Ammons was living in a constant state of anxiety. With two teenaged children, including a 17-year-old son, the Montgomery resident, who is black, worries about racial profiling — even in Princeton, where she has a close relationship with the Princeton Police Department from her work as a crossing guard.

Ammons’ fear led her to form a group called Black Mothers Rising, which held a prayer and meditation session and a dialogue with the police department’s Safe Neighborhoods Unit last Sunday morning. Approximately 100 people, including members of Princeton Council, attended the event on the plaza at 400 Witherspoon Street.

Wearing masks and observing social distancing, the crowd heard initial remarks by Officer Jennifer Gering and other officers about the department’s efforts to engage with the community and be sensitive to issues of equality and transparency. While respectful and appreciative, members of the crowd asked some pointed questions about why there is a greater police presence in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood than in other parts of town. Another person asked why there were officers in riot gear at the protest that was held June 2 in Princeton.

“When you talk about community policing, what community are you policing?” asked one Witherspoon-Jackson resident. Officers responded that their presence is driven by call volume, but the resident suggested the calls were coming from outside the neighborhood.

“We need to take on the elephant in the room,” said Ammons. “You still said there are reasons you target the community. What are the reasons other than we’re black?” more

Konstantin, 13

COMMUNITY COMES TOGETHER: For week seven of our campaign highlighting fun projects for kids to do, we invited local youths to create a collage using newspaper and magazine clippings. Next week’s project will feature comics and word searches.

By Donald Gilpin

Five local leaders will be honored with special recognition for their service to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Joint Effort Princeton Witherspoon-Jackson Safe Streets Program has announced.

As it looks forward to its annual August celebration — to be held virtually this year —Joint Effort Safe Streets has decided “in a random act of acknowledgement, to say thank you to five extraordinary public servants in Princeton,” according to Joint Effort Safe Streets organizer John Bailey.

“Commitment and leadership are rare qualities today for a lot of people in positions of influence,” Bailey said. “At that intersection between commitment and leadership is integrity. In Princeton we have been so fortunate to have leaders with commitment and integrity.”

Cited for their “enhanced sense of expanded morality,” these five public servants include Steve Cochrane, Princeton Public Schools (PPS) superintendent; Jessica Deutsch, PPS Board of Education member; Liz Lempert, Princeton mayor; Nick Sutter, Princeton Police Department chief; and Marc Dashield, Princeton municipal administrator.

“This pandemic health crisis has moved these five leaders to step up every day, to be vigilant, and to communicate to the residents about the impact on everyday life in Princeton,” a Joint Effort press release states. “We can’t say enough about the real leadership they have shown us, especially during this disruptive COVID-19 time.” more

By Anne Levin

Since his recent graduation from Princeton University, Sunny Singh Sandhu has moved to Washington, D.C., where he will start a consulting job with Deloitte in the fall. But Sandhu has maintained ties to the Princeton business community, where he and two classmates founded Tigers for Nassau a few months ago, to help local restaurants have a stronger digital presence during the COVID-19 crisis.

This is the second local venture for Sandhu, who cofounded Connect for COVID-19 with his brother Manraj Singh to provide remote access for patients who are hospitalized and isolated.

With Tigers for Nassau, Sandhu and cofounders Neel Ajjarapu and Kevin Hou have been working closely with the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA) by attending the organization’s regular Zoom meetings. They have provided assistance to the Homestead Princeton store and Small World cafe, and they plan to continue with additional restaurants and retail establishments.

“The problems caused by COVID-19 in Princeton have resonated with us, because this is where we have lived for four years and these are the restaurants and cafes and businesses we have gone to,” said Sandhu. “We started thinking about how we could leverage our abilities, and those of other Princeton University students, to help. We now have close to 50-plus students involved, and we are working to see what the need is across Princeton.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

Nobody is ever missing.

—John Berryman, “Dream Song 29”

There’s a video online of John Berryman reading his poem “The Song of a Tortured Girl” in early October 1970, a year and three months before he jumped to his death from the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis.

It’s a short poem about a heroine of the French Resistance captured by the Gestapo and, as Berryman puts it, “tortured in various ways to death without giving up any names.” Watching the faded, grainy YouTube clip, I saw convulsive foreshadowings of Berryman’s last act. Although the video resembles a ghostly livestream preview of Zoom, there’s nothing merely “virtual” about the bearded, bespectacled poet’s spasmodic flailings; he’s not reciting the girl’s ordeal, he’s enduring it in an agony of compassion. You find yourself close to ducking, flinching, not sure whether he’s at the drunken mercy of — or in sly performative command of — his own lines. Everything’s at the last point-of-death remove, every pause feels like a fall into the abyss, and you’re there with the girl and the poet in “the strange room where the brightest light DOES NOT shine on the strange men: shines on me.” Nothing short of the capital letters I’ve added can suggest the way those two ordinary words wrench, attack, all but strangle him. It’s not emphasis for effect, it’s an emotional eruption.

No matter how much you read of Berryman’s work or John Haffenden’s 1983 biography or the Paris Review interview conducted at St. Mary’s Hospital later the same month, October 27 and 29, 1970, nothing really prepares you for the dimensions of Berryman’s presence alive and unwell, and rarely sober, in various online videos. Then you begin to understand his take-no-prisoners attitude to syntax; the poignant understatement of his third wife Kate’s reference to the “lovely confusion” of living with him (“you were part of the project”); and above all his lengthy closing response when the interviewer, his former student Peter Stitt, asks him, “Where do you go from here?”  more

The Trenton Music Makers have dedicated their Thursday, June 11 concert on Facebook to the Trenton community. “The beauty and resilience of the people of this city live in all of its children, and our mission is to empower them by uplifting their voices as musicians and members of their community,” the group has stated. “We offer this concert to celebrate and affirm that Black Lives Matter.” The concert, featuring students and teaching artists and special guests, is streamed at 6 p.m. on facebook.com/trentonmusicmakers. (Photo by Nick Donnoli Productions)

The Princeton Festival has added events to the second week of its free “Virtually Yours” online performing arts series. A performance of Georg Philipp Telemann’s Fantasia #8 in E major by Princeton Festival Baroque Orchestra violinist Maria Romero will stream on Thursday, June 11. Romero was earlier interviewed in a podcast about her career, which is now available on the Festival website.

The roster for the online season also includes entertainment by a Latin dance band, including dance lessons; an opera workshop; a podcast on costuming; a Baroque concert; and Mozart’s popular opera Le Nozze di Figaro.

“We’re happy these wonderful artists are joining our virtual season,” said Richard Tang Yuk, executive and artistic director. “We’re planning to announce more added attractions for the final two weeks as well.”

Most events will be available from 9 a.m. the day they debut through June 28. The week two schedule includes a podcast interview on “Costuming Operas and Musicals” with Marie Miller on Wednesday, June 10; “Signature Artists Showcase” with Baroque violinist Maria Montero playing Telemann’s Fantasia #8 in E major, and Session 1 of 4-part Digital Opera Workshop with Kyle Masson, on Thursday, June 11. more

In response to the tragedy of racism and the conversations and protests around social justice taking place in the United States, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) has postponed the world premiere of José Luis Domínguez’s Gratias Tibi to June 22.

NJSO President and CEO Gabriel van Aalst said, “Now is a time to listen to the voices of the black community. Issues of systemic racism and social justice should be the focus of our national conversation. We still believe in the importance of sending gratitude to the frontline medical and service workers who have been at the forefront of the ongoing pandemic response, and we look forward to sharing Gratias Tibi later this month.”

Gratias Tibi is an NJSO commission offering a message of thanks to the frontline medical and service workers responding to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The Montclair State University Singers, longtime NJSO partners, will join the Orchestra for Domínguez’s work for physically-distanced orchestra and choir.

The world premiere will now take place on June 22 at 7:30 pm at njsymphony.org/gratiastibi and on the NJSO’s social media channels. For more information, visit njsymphony.org/gratiastibi.

“SPRING FLOWERS”: This photo by John Marshall can be found in the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT) online gallery at lhtrail.org. All are invited to participate in the LHT Art on the Trail program, which will run through next spring.

Whether area residents are inspired by the critters, trees, blossoms, and grasses or lakes and streams along the 20-plus miles of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), all are invited to take part in the LHT Art on the Trail program. The goal is to create and share art inspired by the walking and biking trail that runs through Lawrence and Hopewell Townships.

The assignment: Take a walk along the trail with your cameras or art supplies, choose your subject matter by visiting the LHT photo gallery or tap into your own imagination and create drawings, paintings, videos, and photos of scenes along the Lawrence Hopewell Trail. Submit them at lhtrail.org/upload-trail-artwork, and the LHT will share the best of them on the lhtrail.org website, through social media, and in future LHT publications. more

PUBLIC ART MURAL: Princeton artist Marlon Davila begins painting the D&R Greenway Land Trust mural at Bordentown Beach, which will celebrate the Delaware River. It is projected to be completed by July 4.

D&R Greenway Land Trust of Princeton has announced that first brush strokes of paint are being applied to its public art mural celebrating their upcoming Kayak Education Program on the banks of the Delaware River at Bordentown Beach. This program is designed to increase water access and awareness of watershed protection for all people who live along the Delaware, recently named River of the Year 2020 by American Rivers.

The mural is to be completed by July 4. Meanwhile, the public is welcome to enjoy watching its progress at Bordentown Beach, maintaining social distance.

This announcement comes as June is celebrated as American Rivers Month across the country.  More than 15 million people get their drinking water from the Delaware River watershed.  To create a public statement about the importance of water and the river, and the diverse communities that benefit from it, D&R Greenway partnered with the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s youth program, FUTURO, and with the city of Bordentown.

The mural-in-progress is under the artistic leadership of Princeton resident Marlon Davila. Like many of the students he worked with on this project, he is first generation, his parents having immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala. To design the mural, Davila and Nadeem Demian of D&R Greenway, also first generation with parents from Egypt, worked with high school youth from Trenton and Princeton. The students were provided presentations about the important historic and natural resources of the Delaware River, and were invited to create art to express their cultural and individual views of environmental impacts on the Delaware.   more

SPRING SPLENDOR: “We have quality products, and customers know our reputation and that they can count on us for helpful and knowledgeable service. We look forward to helping people grow their gardens.” Jeff Baumley, owner of Baumley Nursery, Landscaping & Garden Center, is shown beside a variety of shade-loving plants.

By Jean Stratton

“The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of the birds is come;”

—Song of Solomon

Indeed, in the midst of this season “of our discontent,” the flowers are here, and the birds and pollinators are helping to ensure that more blossoms will thrive and continue to provide beauty to the land.

And this is always important at Baumley Nursery, Landscaping & Garden Center. For more than 30 years, owner Jeff Baumley has been helping customers take home the right plants for the right space, and encouraging homeowners to learn about the proper care and maintenance of their new acquisitions.

Any visit to the Garden Center at 4339 Route 27, just past Kingston, is time well spent, both to appreciate the splendid display of flowers and plants in all colors and sizes, and to meander along attractive brick pathways, and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere.

Customers also appreciate the convenient arrangement and identification of the products, including helpful explanatory information.  more

MIGHTY QUINN: Princeton University men’s golf star Evan Quinn displays his driving form. Quinn, who graduated from Princeton earlier this month, enjoyed a stellar career for the Tigers. As a junior, Quinn helped Princeton win the 2019 Ivy League tournament, earning All-Ivy honors in the process. He was also a two-time PING All-Northeast Region selection. In his final campaign, Quinn produced a solid fall season, leading Princeton in three of four stroke-play events that it competed in the early stages of the 2019-20 season which saw the spring portion of the schedule canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Evan Quinn was good enough at cross country for Morristown High School to run in college but he gave it up to pour his competitive energy into golf when he came to Princeton University.

“I made a brief reappearance at the Turkey Trot this year,” said Quinn, a captain for the Princeton men’s golf team in his senior year before graduating earlier this month.

“My brother is on the varsity cross country team now so he’s in good shape. I did that, but that’s pretty much the extent of my running career since high school.”

Quinn has always been competitive in any sport in which he has participated and has typically experienced both individual and team success. He started to cultivate his golf game by the second grade, although he also played soccer and ran. In high school, he was Morris County cross country champion as a senior in a school-record 15:53 over the 5,000-meter course to lead the team to victory, and finished 11th at the 2015 Meet of Champions. After that race, he turned to golf full-time. He won the NJSIAA North 1-2, Group 4 sectional individual championship and led Morristown to the team title. Quinn had won the Group 3 sectional the previous two years.  more

SHOW OF SUPPORT: The Parker twins, Dylan, right, and Ethan, celebrate after winning a point in a match last spring for the Princeton High boys’ tennis team. After playing doubles last year, the junior standouts were primed to move up to singles spots in the lineup for the Tigers before the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Parkers and the rest of the squad have been supporting each other virtually as they look to foster team camaraderie in the lost season. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the lineup of her Princeton High boys’ tennis team getting reshuffled due to graduation losses, Sarah Hibbert wasn’t sure what to expect this spring.

“It would have been interesting to see because we did lose three of our starters from last year’s lineup,” said PHS head coach Sarah Hibbert, who guided the Tigers to an 11-5 campaign in 2019 as they advanced to the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional final.

“We did have a freshman, Jonathan Gu, come in who was going to be playing singles based on the challenge matches we had done in the first couple of days. It looked like the Parker twins, Dylan and Ethan, were also going to be at singles but we had only gotten through one round of challenge matches. That would have given us strength at the top.”

But PHS never got to show its strength as it only got five days on the courts before school was closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak in mid-March and weeks later the spring season was formally canceled.

“We had a week of preseason, I had established the team from 48 down to 20 in four days,” said Hibbert.

“In some ways it made it easier because we had established that you guys are the ones that are going to play this season so at the point that we went virtual at least I had set the team so it wasn’t oh like you might have still been cut.” more

NEXT LEVEL PERFORMERS: Jomar Meekins, left, defends a foe in a game this winter for the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team during his senior campaign and Brianna Astbury tracks the ball last fall in action for the PDS girls’ soccer team. They are two of 14 Panther student-athletes who graduated last week and will be continuing their athletic careers at the college level. Meekins is headed to Bard College where he will be playing for its men’s basketball program while Astbury is going to Muhlenberg College and will compete for its women’s soccer program. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While the high school spring sports season was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a group of 14 accomplished athletes at the Princeton Day School will get to continue their athletic careers at the college level.

Having honored its senior athletes all spring on social media, PDS recognized those stellar performers headed to college sports programs last week as the school prepared for its graduation ceremony that took place on June 6.

The female standouts who will continue their athletic careers at the next level include field hockey stars Caroline Haggerty and Lexie Hausheer, a quartet of soccer stalwarts Brianna Astbury, Riley Felsher, Ariana Jones and Tulsi Pari, volleyball player Brynna Fisher, and lacrosse standout Ellie Schofield.

As for the male athletes, those headed to college sports programs include lacrosse stars Jake Bennett and Cal Caputo, baseball standout John Carroll, and a trio of basketball stalwarts, Jaylin Champion-Adams, Lucas Green, and Jomar Meekins.

In reflecting on this group of athletes, outgoing PDS Upper School Athletic Director Tim Williams lauded them for their impact over the past four years.

“It’s always a bittersweet time of year to congratulate your seniors on their accomplishments and see them depart, and for our seniors this spring, the same holds true,” said Williams. more

June 5, 2020

Hundreds of people filled downtown Princeton on Tuesday evening in a peaceful protest against racism and police brutality. The event, which also included speeches and marching, was co-sponsored by The Coalition for Peace Action, Choose, and Not in Our Town Princeton. (Photo by Chris Councill)

June 3, 2020

On what would have been Princeton Reunions P-rade Day last Saturday, the Nassau Hall lawn remained mostly empty. A virtual P-rade was held instead. Princeton University’s 273rd commencement was also held virtually this year, with an in-person event planned for the Class of 2020 on campus next May. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin 

Princeton University’s 273rd graduation ceremony on Sunday was celebratory and mostly upbeat, but, as University President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in a taped virtual welcome to the 1,250 undergraduates receiving bachelor’s degrees and 492 graduate students receiving Ph.D. or final master’s degrees, it was “not the ceremony anyone would have wished for.”

Standing fully robed in academic regalia at the podium with the facade of Nassau Hall and its two sculpted tigers behind him, Eisgruber looked out on an empty lawn, though thousands were present virtually for the event on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Dean of the College Jill Dolan, who joined Eisgruber to formally present the candidates for degrees, called on the online audience to join her in imagining a more normal scenario. “I hope you too can see this imagined community who are cheering you today,” she told the graduates.

In his speech to the graduates, Eisgruber acknowledged the enormous challenges for this generation, which has been “touched by tragedy” and which graduates in “much harder times” than their parents’ generation faced. “You have seen how fragile our world is,” he said, noting the losses that all had recently suffered.

He went on, however, to emphasize that the most important question is “what will you do with this hardship? You have the opportunity to chart a new course. I hope you seize that opportunity.” And he closed by referring to a planned, in-person graduation for the class of 2020 in May 2021. “I look forward to congratulating you in person next spring,” he said.

In a statement, also issued on Sunday, Eisgruber commented on the killing of George Floyd and the importance of confronting racism. “We have witnessed yet again how this nation’s long legacy of racism continues to damage and destroy the lives of black people,” he wrote. “The COVID-19 pandemic itself has killed black and brown Americans at higher rates than other groups, magnifying disparities in health care and economic well-being.”

He continued, reemphasizing his challenge to the graduates and the community. “We all have a responsibility to stand up against racism, wherever and whenever we encounter it,” he said. “Commitments to diversity, inclusivity, and human rights are fundamental to the mission of Princeton University. I ask all of us to join the graduates in the Class of 2020 in their quest to form a better society, one that confronts racism honestly and strives relentlessly for equality and justice.”

In his valedictory remarks, Nicholas Johnson, a senior class operations research and financial engineering concentrator from Montreal and the first black valedictorian in Princeton University history, also challenged the Class of 2020, as he emphasized the need for building. “Think critically about what needs to be built in the world, build it, and never stop learning,” he said. “Building is a vehicle of progress and a bridge to a better future. Let us build a better future.” more

By Anne Levin

Capital Health Systems will open a primary care facility early next year at 300 Witherspoon Street, the former headquarters of The Princeton Packet newspaper. The new clinic, which will have four to six family and internal medicine doctors available five days a week, was announced Monday evening at a meeting of Princeton Council.

Primary Care at Princeton will also offer evening hours twice weekly, and same-day appointments, said Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros, who has been involved in the negotiations with Capital Health and the property owner, Helena May. The Packet moved out of the building three years ago.

“They expressed to us that, in the past seven or eight years, they were looking for a place in a central location in Princeton, with good parking,” Lambros said of Capital Health. “Ironically, we’ve been looking for them as a solution to [not having] a walkable clinic since Princeton Hospital closed and moved to Plainsboro.”

Lambros said the town is working with Capital Health to offer pre-natal care, well-baby care, and wellness care for adults who are uninsured or under-insured. The arrangement also connects clients with physicians at Capital Health’s main facility in Hopewell, and will offer transport there if needed. more

By Anne Levin

As a result of outbreaks of violence in cities across the nation and, especially, in Trenton, the Princeton Police Department has increased its visibility and presence, especially in the Central Business District and at Princeton Shopping Center, where looting could take place.

“First, we want to ensure that those who peacefully protest are safe and protected from harm,” the department stated in a bulletin that was posted by the Princeton Merchants Association this week. “Second, we hope that our presence will deter others from vandalizing our small businesses. Although we do not expect any problems to occur, we need to remain vigilant and be prepared in the event that things don’t go as planned.”

The May 25 killing in Minneapolis of African American George Floyd by white police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, has sparked protests all over the nation, many of which have turned violent. Peaceful demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday in Trenton deteriorated on Sunday night into hours of looting, and the setting on fire of three police cars. Stores and banks on West State Street, East State Street, and other areas of the downtown were looted, as were stores at the Roebling Market shopping center.

Officers from all over the area were called to the capital city to help restore order. Helicopters circled the city for hours. An 8 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew was put in place. Police were also present at Quaker Bridge Mall and in downtown Princeton on Sunday night, though no looting took place. Curfews were also established in Lawrence, Ewing, and Hamilton.

The Coalition for Peace Action scheduled a peaceful protest for Tuesday evening, June 2, at Nassau and Witherspoon streets (after press time). The police advised the public to be aware of road closures and plan accordingly for detours. Labyrinth Books, and the organizations Not in Our Town and Choose, were among those scheduled to take part in the 5 p.m. “Kneeling for Justice” demonstration. more

BOND REQEST POSTPONED: A regulating authority has temporarily put aside Rider University’s appeal to redirect a portion of bond revenues in order to speed up the relocation of Westminster Choir College from its longtime Princeton home. (File photo by Erica M. Cardenas)

By Anne Levin

A request by Rider University to redirect part of a 2017 Revenue Bond to facilitate the move of Westminster Choir College from Princeton to Rider’s Lawrenceville campus was tabled last week by the New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority (NJEFA).

The $41.7 million bond was originally issued to fund renovations of Rider residential and academic facilities and build additions to the University’s Science and Technology and Fine Arts centers. Early last month, the campus community was informed that Rider wants to use $13 million of the bond funds to complete the first phase of the transition of Westminster to Lawrenceville. This would postpone the planned additions.

“We believe the decision to move forward with the campus transition at this time is critical to best preserve current and future Westminster enrollments, as well as supporting the vision for the combined Westminster College of the Arts in Lawrenceville,” wrote Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs DonnaJean Fredeen, in a May 4 communication. “The plan has been approved by the University’s Board of Trustees.”

Rider, which merged with Westminster in 1992, announced in 2016 that it was planning to sell the choir college. When no viable buyer was found, the University released plans to close the Princeton campus and move Westminster to Lawrence. Those plans have spurred two lawsuits and opposition from several members of the Rider community, past and present. Last March, a Mercer County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Rider’s motion to dismiss the lawsuits, which sought to block the move. The Westminster Foundation, which is made up of alumni and supporters opposed to the move, said it would appeal the decision. more