November 26, 2014

Food service workers in Princeton’s public schools are threatening to strike, claiming that the new company hired by the district to provide food for students and staff has taken away their health insurance and sick day benefits.

Several food service workers appealed to Superintendent Stephen Cochrane and members of the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE) at the November 18 public meeting, which was held at the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center in anticipation of a large number of attendees. The Board is in the middle of contract negotiations with the teachers’s union Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA).

Angela Clark who serves meals at Littlebrook Elementary School told the Board: “We do our best, we work hard, and this new company will not budge and doesn’t want to give us any benefits we had before. That is why 20 of us have voted to strike. We don’t want to do it, but it may come to that unfortunately. We are here to ask for your help.”

In June, the BOE unanimously approved a $61,245 food service contract with Nutri-Serve Food Management, Inc. for the 2014-15 school year; existing cafeteria staff were offered jobs with the new contractor, which replaced Chartwells School Dining Services. Chartwells had been serving Princeton’s schools for the previous 15 years.

Princeton Public Schools introduced the new food service provider as one that enables children to make good food choices and also promotes healthy eating for their parents.

According to a union representative, however, Nutri-Serve, which serves more than 80 other districts around the state, was unilaterally and unlawfully changing the terms of its contract with the employees.

“It’s a terrible thing,” commented Bridget Guarini, who has worked at John Witherspoon Middle School for over a decade. “We’re here working for the kids each and every day and I don’t think it’s fair that we have to come in to work even if we’re sick. We’re not asking for anything we didn’t have before, and we didn’t have too much before. We can’t make a living, and it’s not fair to us.”

Members of the Board sat in silence as workers expressed their feelings.

Princeton resident Dafna Kendal chided Board members for causing division between staff and administration, between teachers and parents. “Tonight I feel like I’m in a Dickens novel,” she said. “The lunch aides are asking you to help them, please have some humanity. They make $9 an hour and we’re not going to pay them for the day after Thanksgiving when school is closed? They are begging you to help them, please help them.”

At the end of the meeting, Superintendent Stephen Cochrane pointed out that Nutri-Serve and not the Board of Education is responsible for negotiating with its workers. “We care very deeply about our food service workers and we value very much the work that they do each day with our children, but we do want to clarify that the Board is not in negotiations with the union,” he said.

After the meeting, Mr. Cochrane sent the following message to parents: “This week we learned that the union representing our food service professionals is negotiating portions of its contract with Nutri-Serve, our food service provider. We care deeply about our food service workers, many of whom have been helping in our schools for years. As the men and women who work in our cafeterias are not employees of the district, the administration and Board of Education have no official involvement in the negotiations process. We are, however, hopeful that the contract will be settled quickly and in the best interest of all involved. In the meantime, Nutri-Serve has assured the district that there will be no interruption to the preparation and service of quality food to our children.”

Asked by email if there was anything the Board or he, as superintendent, could do in response to the plea from the food service workers, Mr. Cochrane said that he had “reached out personally to some of our food service professionals to get a better sense of their concerns. I have also been in touch with Nutri-Serve, and I remain hopeful that the issues of primary concern can be settled soon.”

Board member Patrick Sullivan expanded on Mr. Cochrane’s comments in a statement to Town Topics yesterday: “Nutri-Serve provides cafeteria services to the School District, and Nutri-Serve contracts with its employees through the 32 BJ Service Employees International Union. The Princeton Board of Education is not a party to that contract. While the negotiations between the 32 BJ SEIU and Nutri-Serve are ongoing, there is nothing that the Board of Education can lawfully do to influence the talks between those parties. We do care very much for our food service workers and are hopeful for a quick and fair resolution between their union leaders and the management of Nutri-Serve.

PREA representative John Baxter said that, while he wasn’t in a position to comment on the specifics of the dispute, he expressed support for the food service workers “in their right to a fair contract and a living wage.”

“If what I’ve heard is true, that the workers have lost their sick days, I am certainly very concerned about the health hazard this may present to students who are served by these dedicated workers,” said Mr. Baxter. “Fewer or no sick days certainly increases the likelihood that a food service worker will report to work when he or she is sick and should be home.”

 

Representatives of the teachers’ union, Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA) and the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE) sat down with state-appointed mediator Kathy Vogt, Esq. last Thursday.

Ms. Vogt helped bring both sides together in negotiations for the 2011-14 contract, which expired June 30 but continues in operation until the terms and conditions can be agreed upon. She met separately with each side.

The mediator was called in after a long series of bargaining sessions had failed to reach an agreement. Things got so bad that on October 2, the meeting was brought to a halt when members of the PREA negotiating team walked out.

Negotiations had stalled repeatedly over the issues of health care and salary increases, the most significant stumbling block to forward movement being a profound disagreement over the intent and impact of NJ law Chapter 78. The crux of the issue is whether premium contributions are subject to collective bargaining under the Chapter 78 law. PREA contends that, after this year, premium contributions are subject to collective bargaining.

The union has announced that as of December 1 its members will stop donating their time to non-paid extra-curricular activities and volunteer work. The action would affect some after-school student clubs and student trips, activities to which teachers contribute their own time as opposed to activities for which they get paid.

On its Facebook page, the union posted an open letter to parents explaining the action to not “perform or participate in activities, including their planning, for which we are not compensated and that extend beyond the school day.”

Princeton’s teachers will, however, continue to write letters of recommendation for students.

The mediation session came after parents had expressed disapproval of the BOE’s ongoing failure to come to an agreement at last week’s meeting, which took place in the Performing Arts Auditorium at Princeton High School because so many parents and teachers were expected to attend as had been the case at the meeting in October.

“I am dismayed by the contentious negotiations between the Board and PREA,” said resident Abigail Rose at the meeting. “This prolonged process has led to diminished morale among teachers and has had a direct impact on student learning and extra-curricular activities. I urge the Board to fairly prioritize, recognize, and compensate our outstanding teachers, both to keep those already here and to continue to attract the best.”

Resident Amy Goldstein expressed anger at the Board for jeopardizing children’s education. She suggested that such parental displeasure had resulted in the failure of the only incumbent to be elected in the recent election. Addressing the entire membership, she said “Princeton is not happy with you, you need to listen to your teachers and to your town.”

However, one local resident suggested a possible solution to the negotiation stalemate. “I don’t see the money to satisfy all the economic desires of the teachers,” said Rod Montgomery. “With costs going up while revenues do not, the only way to survive the squeeze is to make teachers more productive.” He asked whether technology might be used to make that possible through increasing class sizes and perhaps having students teach each other.

After Thursday’s mediated session, BOE negotiator Patrick Sullivan said “While we just began the process with the mediator, we were encouraged by the tone of discussions, and both sides were able to frankly exchange not only their views and positions, but also on the reasoning that underlies them.”

Chair of the PREA Negotiations Team John J. Baxter was less positive (see his letter in this week’s Mailbox). “There was no indication of any change in the Board’s positions at the meeting on the 20th,” he said. “The mediator, of course, needed to use that meeting largely to acquaint herself with the teams’ positions and the major issues.”

Two more mediated sessions are planned for December 9 and January 14. “We are confident that we will continue to make progress on the issues on which we still remain apart,” said Mr. Sullivan.

Mediator services are provided by the state at no cost to the district, but if no agreement is reached in mediation, a fact-finder would be called in at a cost of $1,500 per day. The cost of a fact-finder would be split between the two parties.

 

More discussion is in order on the future of the Witherspoon Street corridor, the mile-long thoroughfare between Valley Road and Nassau Street. At a meeting Monday night, Princeton Council decided to allow additional time for debating the merits of coming up with new zoning as opposed to leaving the current zoning of the street as is.

The consolidation of the former Borough and Township has allowed the opportunity for creating a new vision for the street, but the question is whether new rules are necessary. Planning director Lee Solow presented a comprehensive capacity study at the meeting, going zone-by-zone to explain the limits and opportunities associated with each section of the street. There are eight zoning districts in the corridor, most of which have been in place for more than 30 years. Some of the designations are complicated, with the floor-to-area (FAR) ratios not representative of how much square footage is actually allowed.

The capacity study included a look at individual lots to calculate the maximum building potential, using information from the tax assessor’s office. Parking requirements are controlling development possibilities, Mr. Solow said. The existing zoning allows for more density than is actually dictated by the requirements.

Witherspoon Street is home to the close-knit Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, several businesses, and the former Princeton Hospital, currently being demolished to make room for the 280-unit AvalonBay rental complex. The corridor was first discussed at a meeting last September, during which several area residents and business owners spoke out, some in favor of leaving the current zoning in place and others hoping for new designations that would be more restrictive to developers. Still others were interested in further development.

There were fewer members of the public taking the microphone at Monday’s meeting, a situation that caused some comment. “I’m concerned that there are not many members of the neighborhood here tonight,” said local resident Kip Cherry. Ms. Cherry added that the area is “going through an evolution,” and stressed the need for maintaining its character.

Former Borough Mayor Yina Moore summarized comments made about the issue at the most recent meeting of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood association. Calling the corridor a “very important spine of the community,” she said “There is a real concern about developers buying multiple properties.”

Ms. Moore mentioned the possibility of incompatible designs, absentee ownership, and increased gentrification, among other negative results. She urged Council to take a form-based approach when looking at the zoning “to really bring the neighborhood into conformity,” urging that the zoning limit financial institutions, encourage more owner occupancy, and limit businesses to the first floor of a building.

Marvin Reed, chair of the town’s master plan committee and former Township mayor, also weighed in, urging Council to be aware of the fact that properties are being purchased on Witherspoon Street with the idea of further development. The town should have solid policies in place before potential developers make applications. “The existing zoning, while confusing, isn’t so bad,” he said, expressing views of neighborhood residents, adding that there is a strong emphasis on saving the area’s historic character.

Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller asked Mr. Solow what the potential is for developers coming in and putting in large buildings out of scale with the neighborhood. “There’s a real threat there,” Mr. Solow said. “There’s also a real opportunity.” He added that while the current zoning is complicated, it has worked.

“We embarked on this because the current zoning is confusing to the lay person,” said Mayor Liz Lempert. “Does it work well enough for us to be okay with it, or do we go to the next step? We want to do this only if we’re putting something together that’s not already there, such as a form-based code.”

Council president Bernie Miller said he thinks there is a need for more dialogue and more input from residents. “I’d like to hear more before I say ‘Let’s get a visioning statement’ or go one way or the other,” he said.

Council decided to hold another public discussion of the situation at a future meeting, probably in early January. Councilwoman Jo Butler suggested inviting some of the architects of an original study of the corridor done by the organization Princeton Future when that meeting takes place.

 

November 25, 2014

A rally to protest Monday night’s decision not to indict the police officer who shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri will take place this evening, Tuesday, at 6 p.m. A group of Princeton area residents are planning to gather at Tiger Park in front of Palmer Square.

The Coalition for Peace Action is co-sponsoring the rally, which was announced before the prosecutor revealed the grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson. Similar protests are planned in Newark, New York, and Philadelphia.

The protest is designed to be peaceful, according to an announcement made at Monday night’s meeting of Princeton Council by resident Daniel Harris. Participants are asked to bring candles and flashlights.

New Jersey’s mayors have elected Liz Lempert to serve on the Executive Board of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. As such, Mayor Lempert will represent the interests and needs of New Jersey’s local elected officials to county, state and federal governments. The League is a voluntary association created to assist communities do a better job of self-governing through pooling information and resources. All 565 mayors and 13,000 elected and appointed officials of member municipalities are entitled to all the services and privileges of the League.

November 24, 2014

Less than a week after the new Dinky station opened on Alexander Road, New Jersey Transit issued an alert Sunday morning around 6:30 a.m. notifying travelers that the Dinky train would be out of service because of mechanical issues. Early this morning another alert was issued informing travelers that the train would again be out of service for the day. Meanwhile buses will shuttle Dinky users to Princeton Junction. The glitch comes just one day before the the ribbon cutting for the new station is scheduled to take place.

November 21, 2014

breaking news  wawa

Members of Princeton’s fire and police departments faced off Friday morning in a fundraising contest to see which could turn out the most hoagies. The fire department just made it with 22 compared with the police department’s 21, but everyone was a winner in the good-natured battle that was part of the grand opening celebration of the new Wawa market next to the new Dinky train station on the Princeton University campus. Wawa donated $1,000 each to the charity of each department’s choice — for the police, programs of the PBA 130, and for the fire department, the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Among the dignitaries on hand for the celebration were Mayor Liz Lempert, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, Mercer County Freeholder John Cimino, and Princeton administrator Marc Dashield. Employees took part in a parade that detailed the company’s history, and longtime staff members Ari Shiner and Martin Maccarone, who are part of Wawa’s partnership with Eden Autism Services, were also recognized. The sleek, modern store, part of the University’s $330 million Arts & Transit project, was designed by architect Rick Joy. (Photo by Anne Levin)

November 19, 2014

United States Congressman Rush Holt will take the helm of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific organization, when he retires from the United States House of Representatives at the end of his eighth term. Mr. Holt will become chief executive officer and executive publisher of the AAAS’s Science family of journals.

Mr. Holt is a research physicist and former teacher who served as Assistant Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory from 1989 until 1998. His research into alternative energy earned him a patent for an improved solar pond technology for harnessing energy from sunlight.

The 66-year-old has represented Central New Jersey’s 12th District since 1999. He had an AAAS fellowship in 1982-83 while teaching at Swarthmore College. Mr. Holt will be the 18th chief executive of the 166-year-old AAAS and will be formally named at the association’s annual meeting in San Jose, California in February, according to a release issued by the organization. He will succeed Alan I. Leshner, who is stepping down from the CEO position after 13 years.

“Rush Holt will be a great leader of AAAS and a powerful spokesman for science both nationally and internationally,” said Phillip A. Sharp, chair of the AAAS Board of Directors, who serves as an Institute Professor at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “His career as a scientist, educator, and public servant, uniquely prepares him to take the reins of AAAS from another great leader, Alan Leshner.”

Mr. Leshner commented, “Rush Holt is an ideal choice to lead AAAS and Science into the future. His expertise, experience, and commitment to science and public service are sure to greatly enhance the association’s impact in all domains.”

On Tuesday, December 9 from 7-9 p.m., author and psychologist Ari Tuckman will speak on “Medication for ADHD: From Myths and Controversy to Understanding and Informed Decisions.” The talk is at John Witherspoon Middle School, 217 Walnut Lane. Admission is free.

Medication is probably the best known treatment for ADHD, but it is also the most controversial. Mr. Tuckman will explore what it means to treat a psychological condition and specifically what it means to take medication that influences thinking. He will also discuss the effects of other treatments such as therapy, coaching, and organizing, etc., as well as how to use certain tools and strategies.

The presentation will first explore the psychology behind accepting a diagnosis. Like many of the psychiatric diagnoses, there is a stigma and lack of credibility associated with ADHD that is different from the more “medical” conditions, such as diabetes. Other topics will include the psychology of medication, what it means to take medication for a diagnosed condition, the common reasons why people start medication or choose not to, and the reasons why people continue or terminate treatment.

Because the most effective treatment programs for ADHD tend to be ones that integrate medication with other modalities, Mr. Tuckman will also explore the use of psychosocial interventions such as therapy, coaching, and organizing.

Mr. Tuckman has given more than 250 presentations and is the author of three books: Understand Your Brain, Get More Done: The ADHD Executive Functions Workbook; More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults With ADHD; and Integrative Treatment for Adult ADHD: A Practical, Easy-to-Use Guide for Clinicians. His “More Attention, Less Deficit” podcast has more than 100 episodes and has had over 1,750,000 downloads. He is a psychologist in private practice in West Chester, Pa. and is a board member of CHADD National.

THANKSGIVING WITHOUT THE BLOAT: At a lunch held by Dorothy Mullen’s Suppers Program this week, health-conscious diners dove into a satisfying meal of turkey meatloaf, salsa flavored with oranges and cilantro, tangy greens with tamari, roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower, and lentil loaf for the one vegan at the table. Everyone cleaned their plate but no one complained of feeling overstuffed.(Photo by Anne Levin)

THANKSGIVING WITHOUT THE BLOAT: At a lunch held by Dorothy Mullen’s Suppers Program this week, health-conscious diners dove into a satisfying meal of turkey meatloaf, salsa flavored with oranges and cilantro, tangy greens with tamari, roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower, and lentil loaf for the one vegan at the table. Everyone cleaned their plate but no one complained of feeling overstuffed. (Photo by Anne Levin)

Like most Thanksgiving feasts, this one included generous portions, multiple side dishes, and lots of discussion about food. But unlike those traditional holiday repasts, the meal left no one desperate for a nap or moaning about how they over-indulged.

The table around which 11 members of the Suppers Program gathered Monday afternoon was in the Patton Avenue home of Suppers founder Dorothy Mullen. An advocate of avoiding processed foods as a path to well-being, she came up with the concept of using the communal preparation and consumption of a nutritious meal as a way to manifest healthy change. Ms. Mullen is also known locally for her work with the Princeton School Gardens Cooperative and other health-oriented community initiatives.

She is a proponent not only of eating well, but of the importance of families eating together. “It’s important for children, because so many of a family’s values get transmitted at the table,” she said. “It’s about so much more than good nutrition. The family table is a place where sibling rivalry and tensions are resolved in a safe and warm environment. If a family is not eating together, they are missing a huge opportunity to bond with one another.”

On this rainy afternoon, it was all about chopping, roasting, sauteing, and, finally, eating. Before long, the windows of Ms. Mullen’s homey kitchen were steamed up and some people’s eyes were burning from the strong spices and condiments that were part of the cooking. As members arrived, signed in, paid the $10 to offset the cost of the food, and washed their hands, Ms. Mullen put them to work.

She paired the two newcomers in the kitchen with experienced members. One first-timer peeled sweet potatoes while the friend who brought her, a two-year veteran, chopped them into small pieces. Soon the potatoes were ready for the roasting pan and a swish of olive oil and spices.

Julie Denny, who co-chairs the One Table Cafe at Trinity Church (temporarily operating at Nassau Presbyterian Church), got busy shaping ground turkey, vegetables, and almond flour into mini-meatloaves. “I met Dor about a year ago when she spoke at One Table Cafe, and I started coming here. Now, I look forward to it,” she said. “It’s fun, and there is a nice sense of community.”

While this luncheon was a general meeting of Suppers participants, other gatherings focus on specific healing themes such as lowering blood sugar, living with diabetes, alcohol dependence, and weight management. “This is not a club,” said Karen Baldino, a trained facilitator for Suppers, during her brief orientation for new members. “It’s a program of people who gather to cook, eat, and meet to talk about diet and lifestyle change.”

Members are asked to respect each others’ anonymity and not judge lifestyles or choices. While new products or foods might be discussed, nothing is promoted. Meetings are held at about 30 different facilitators’ homes, and at locations such as the YMCA, the Whole Earth market or Savory Spice.

Once the table was set and everything was ready to serve, the plating began. The white china plates were the perfect background for the crisp, green bok choy and tat soy, the red-and-orange-flecked salsa, and other vividly colored dishes that made up the meal. Ms. Mullen lowered the lights, asked members to join hands (or elbows if worried about germs), and breathe in and out. “Take a breath, and let it go,” she said. “Give your weight to the chair. Let go of tensions.”

The lights were turned up and everyone tucked into the meal. “I would serve this for Thanksgiving dinner with a pumpkin pie and no apologies,” Ms. Mullen said as members expressed approval for each dish. “And you can make a fabulous holiday meal just out of side dishes if you like.”

Ms. Denny said that while she enjoyed the meal, she wasn’t sure she could convince her family to forgo Thanksgiving staples such as mashed potatoes with butter, swimming in gravy. Others at the table commented that it takes time to switch over to healthier options, especially when a holiday tradition is involved.

But the group raved about a gravy concocted by Ms. Denny that mixed coconut oil, onion, salt, cilantro, chili powder, vegan broth, and some coconut milk, cooked down for thickening. “When food is this colorful and tastes this good, it’s do-able, it’s delicious, and it’s beautiful,” Ms. Mullen said.

 

communityoptions

When Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert toured the Community Options Inc. group home on North Harrison Street recently, she learned a great deal about the Hunger Games books, resident Vanessa’s favorite reading. She also saw firsthand the non-profit organization’s accomplishments in providing employment and housing support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Originally a one-story house with two bedrooms, the building was donated by the town in 2010. After a thorough renovation, it opened as a group home in 2012. “Community Options is helping individuals with disabilities to lead fulfilling lives,” said Ms. Lempert, who commended the staff and the residents for their volunteer work on behalf of the community. “The Princeton community will continue to work to make housing affordable for people with disabilities.” From left: Community Support Coordinator Awee Taylor, Mercer County Executive Director Teresa Snyder, resident Vanessa, Ms. Lempert, resident Lillian, and Regional Vice President for New Jersey J. Svetlana Repic-Qira. Community Options has developed housing and employment programs for people with disabilities for over 25 years. For more information, visit: www.comop.org.

Two incidents involving the defacing of property on the Princeton University campus last week are still under investigation. The first, graffiti of the words “Rape Haven” on the stone wall outside the Tiger Inn eating club on Prospect Street, is probably unrelated to the second — the spray-painting in red of the letters “FU PU” on the statue of the Princeton University tiger statue between Clio and Whig halls, according to University spokesman Martin Mbugua.

The Tiger Inn incident follows a sexually explicit photo of a student that was alleged to have been shared electronically. Because the University’s eating clubs are private, they fall under the jurisdiction of local police instead of campus public safety. As of early this week, nothing had been reported to Princeton police.

“It’s a sensitive issue, because the victim has to come forward and report it and they have not,” said Sergeant Steven Riccitello, spokesman for the Princeton Police Department. “Without that, we can’t do an investigation. So we haven’t gotten involved.”

The graffiti on the Tiger Inn walls was done sometime between late Tuesday, November 11 and early Wednesday, November 12, and was immediately removed.

The red painted letters on the tiger statue between Clio and Whig halls was noticed about 4:45 a.m. last Thursday, November 13 by a University public safety officer. The paint was quickly removed. Responsibility for the incident has yet to be determined.

 

blueridgemtn

Ray Smalley of Blue Ridge Mountain Sports presents a donation of $2,173 to Linda Mead, President and CEO of D&R Greenway Land Trust. From left: Alan Hershey of New Jersey Trails Association, Mr. Smalley, and Ms. Mead. Blue Ridge Mountain’s donation represents proceeds from the 2014 Banff Mountain Film Festival, held annually at Princeton University. The business designates the Land Trust as their selected non-profit organization and supports its land preservation and creation of trails for the hiking public. (Photo courtesy of D&R Greenway Land Trust)

R.G. Belsky

R.G. Belsky

Having been a college student when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, R.G. Belsky knew most of the facts and theories surrounding the tragic events of November 22, 1963. When the 50th anniversary of the shooting was observed last year, he was managing editor of news for nbcnews.com, in charge of much of the coverage by mostly young reporters on the staff.

He was amazed at their level of interest. “These are people who weren’t even alive when JFK was killed,” said Mr. Belsky, a writer who splits his time between a home in Princeton and an apartment in New York. “I was fascinated by how many people, kids in their early twenties, were obsessed with the topic. But it is, after all, the greatest unsolved crime of all time.”

Mr. Belsky spoke by phone last week during a break from a mystery conference in Long Beach, California, where he was promoting his book The Kennedy Connection. With the subhead “a Gil Malloy novel,” the book is a thriller about a discredited newspaper reporter who finds professional redemption — for a while — after breaking a story that provides what appears to be new revelations about the killing of JFK.

It is as much about the character of the reporter and his fall from grace as it is about the famous murder. But Mr. Belsky, who was an editor at the New York Daily News, The New York Post, and Star Magazine before joining nbcnews.com — which he has since left to devote himself to writing books — says the main character bears no real relation to his own experience.

“It’s fiction. There is no Gil Malloy,” he said. “A lot of people think they’re Gil Malloy. But it’s a combination of the qualities I see in reporters. I’ve met a lot of Gil Malloys in my life. The thing I’m trying to capture in the book was what the life of a reporter like that is like. It’s about how your personal and professional life can be a mess, but the bottom line is that you have this mission to do the big story. In some ways, it’s very noble, but in others, it’s screwed up.”

Mr. Belsky is a native midwesterner who became a reporter and editor after serving in the army in Vietnam. Anyone who worked at a city newspaper before print began its decline will recognize his depiction of the frenetic atmosphere. “That intensity that goes on in a newsroom was nowhere more true than in New York, where you have these papers going head to head,” he said. “Gil is a compilation of a lot of the wonderful and crazy aspects of reporters I’ve dealt with.”

The Kennedy Connection, published by Atria, a division of Simon & Schuster, came out last August and is the first in a series of three books. Due in February is a novella titled The Midnight Hour and next August, the novel Shooting for the Stars is scheduled for publication.

Mr. Belsky has actually been writing books for many years, publishing some mysteries in the 1980s and 90s. He knew he wanted to do a book with a journalist as a central character. He got his chance with the 50th anniversary of the JFK murder. “It’s always said you should write about what you know,” he said. “I know a lot about the Kennedy assassination so I didn’t have to do a lot of research for the book. I think when you write about something you don’t know, it’s harder to be authentic.”

Mr. Belsky professes a love for mystery characters, especially those with strong personalities. “What I tried to create in Gil,” he says, “is someone you want to spend time with. I want you to like the story, but mostly I want you to like him. I got a lot of great reviews, but my favorite was just three words: ‘Gil Malloy rocks.’”

Mr. Belsky wrote The Kennedy Connection while still working full time at nbcnews.com. Making the leap between writing and editing for a news organization and creating fiction wasn’t a struggle for him. “People would say to me, ‘How do you do it?’,” he said. “But for me, it’s almost like using different muscles. The biggest thing you have in a news operation is facts. The great thing about fiction is that you can do whatever you want, if you can allow yourself to do it. And that’s kind of exhilarating. It’s a different kind of writing. But I find it fun.”

 

SOUTH SIDE CHICAGO: The style and printing of this photograph by Jon Lowenstein confers a period patina to “Willie Jones Sr. Funeral,” and yet it was shot as recently as 2005. The image is one of a series by Jon Lowenstein on view through December 4 in the Bernstein Gallery of the Woodrow Wilson School. A reception and panel discussion on the work will take place Monday, November 24, from 4:30 to 6 p.m.(Photo Courtesy of the Artist)

SOUTH SIDE CHICAGO: The style and printing of this photograph by Jon Lowenstein confers a period patina to “Willie Jones Sr. Funeral,” and yet it was shot as recently as 2005. The image is one of a series by Jon Lowenstein on view through December 4 in the Bernstein Gallery of the Woodrow Wilson School. A reception and panel discussion on the work will take place Monday, November 24, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. (Photo Courtesy of the Artist)

“South Side,” the current exhibition in the Bernstein Gallery at the Woodrow Wilson School documents life in Chicago as it is revealed through the lens of documentary photographer Jon Lowenstein.

Mr. Lowenstein specializes in documentary photography that explores the consequences of power, poverty, and violence over time. In this exhibition, “South Side” examines the legacy of segregation, the impact of vast wealth inequality, and how de-industrialization and globalization play out on the ground in this section of Chicago.

The show opened at the start of this month. There will be a panel discussion and reception on Monday, November 24, from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Through a combination of photography, experiential writing, personal testimonies, and short experimental films, the photographer has striven to achieve an unsparing clarity in revealing what life looks like today for the residents of Chicago’s South Side.

He has spent the last decade engaging with his adopted community by bearing witness to how people in underserved neighborhoods struggle to experience life’s joys and sorrows, when that life is fraught with significant poverty and a consistent lack of personal security. Such images — a block party, a prom dress, a funeral, an abandoned building soon to be demolished — are hauntingly elegiac. Lowenstein captures the interplay of innocence, hope, and beauty amid great economic deprivation and social isolation.

The son of a holocaust survivor who escaped Germany on the Kinder Transport, Mr. Lowenstein has spent the past decade recording the largest trans-national migration in U.S. history from Central America and Mexico to the United States and back. He has covered world shaping events that include elections in Afghanistan, the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and the recent civil unrest over Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri. He is a member and owner of NOOR Images, based in Amsterdam. He has received many awards, grants, and fellowships from, among others, the Open Society Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Alicia Patterson Foundation, the USC Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism, the National Press Photographers Association, World Press Photo, Getty Images, and POYi.

He is also a Hasselblad Master and a 2014 TED Senior Fellow. This year, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University awarded him the 22nd Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize.

Mr. Lowenstein’s work has been seen in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Photo District News, The Daily Beast, Audubon Magazine, Verve, Scientific American, NBC News, and Orion.

The Woodrow Wilson School’s Bernstein Gallery and Annex are part of the Bernstein Lobby, dedicated in 1991 to the memory of Marver Bernstein, first dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, and his wife and collaborator, Sheva Bernstein. The space presents four to six exhibitions a year which stimulate thinking about contemporary policy issues ranging from human rights, world health, and education to war, national security, poverty, and politics.

“South Side: Photographs by Jon Lowenstein” is on view at the Bernstein Gallery through December 4.

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ALL ABOARD: Like many Dinky users on Monday, Conductor Bob Gibbs is all smiles as the new Princeton station opened. Commuters found a cherry electronic message board welcoming them to Princeton University and enjoyed free coffee inside the waiting room. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

ALL ABOARD: Like many Dinky users on Monday, Conductor Bob Gibbs is all smiles as the new Princeton station opened. Commuters found a cherry electronic message board welcoming them to Princeton University and enjoyed free coffee inside the waiting room. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

In spite of having no heat in the waiting room, commuters were happy to be able to find shelter from Monday’s inclement weather and enjoy the free hot coffee that was available when the Princeton Dinky Station opened at its new permanent location on Alexander Street.

The Dinky had been out of service for a week, during which time commuters used bus links like the University-operated TigerTransit and the FreeB as well as other means to get to and from Princeton Junction.

Commuters who had negotiated their way from town Monday were generally pleased by what they found. An electronic message board welcomed them to Princeton University, familiar ticket vending machines were located under a canopied platform, and a new waiting room can accommodate 167 people with bench seating inside and more seating built into the exterior walls outside. And while there are no restrooms on the platform, there are restrooms available inside the new Wawa store nearby, which will be open 24 hours a day beginning Friday, November 21. The taxi stand has already relocated to the new Transit Plaza and there is short-term parking out front as well as at the north end of the Princeton Station parking lot, although parts of the lot remain closed or occupied by construction vehicles as work continues.

Workers in hard hats had been out in numbers at the station site Sunday in preparation for Monday’s opening. Sidewalks were swept, panels were attached to the exterior and the heating panel inside the waiting room was being worked on.

Work continued Monday morning as passengers arrived to board the first trains to and from Princeton Junction. Some appeared unsure as to the extent of changes made. One asked uniformed conductor Bob Gibbs whether extra stations had been added to the route. They have not. The most significant change is to the station’s location, some 460 feet south of the old station site with its stone buildings on University Place.

One traveler expressed her disapproval of the move. Lynn Nadeau was en route to Boston Monday morning after visiting her son Teddy Nadeau and daughter-in-law Kristen Thoft. “I first took the Dinky in 1958 when I came to Princeton to visit my high school boyfriend. I remember walking to Pyne Hall. It really has changed,” she said. No stranger to the controversy surrounding the Dinky move, Ms. Nadeau expressed the opinion held by many in the town. “I was against it. I feel that the town was railroaded (no pun intended) into the move; it’s a longer walk for commuters.”

The new Princeton Station is part of the University’s $330 million Arts and Transit project with more work anticipated as new arts and performance spaces are constructed and the old train station buildings are turned into a restaurant and cafe between now and 2017. The Arts and Transit neighborhood will include the Lewis Center for the Arts, as well as art gallery, dance, and music rooms for students.

“Things have been going well so far,” said Princeton University’s Director of Community and Regional Affairs Kristen S. Appelget who had been on hand since 5 a.m. “It’s a cold and damp day so people are happy to have a place to go indoors; we’ve had passengers here for every train and we’ve seen a lot of suitcases so it appears that Thanksgiving travel has begun.”

Even as commuters settle in to using the new station, lawsuits filed by residents and the Save the Dinky group designed to stop the station move are making their way through the judicial system. The suits question the legality of the contract between New Jersey Transit and Princeton University as well as zoning changes and site plan approval for the project.

 

The death of prominent philanthropist William H. Scheide last Friday morning, November 14, has inspired numerous tributes from members of the many organizations in Princeton with which he was associated. Mr. Scheide, who was 100, died at his home on Library Place.

A memorial service has been scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Saturday, November 29, at Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street. The service will be simulcast in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, on the Princeton University campus.

Mr. Scheide was known for his contributions, intellectual as well as financial, to music, civil rights, and the preservation of rare books and manuscripts. His generosity extended to many local institutions including Princeton University, from which he graduated in 1936; Princeton Public Library; Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts; the Institute for Advanced Study; Centurion Ministries, Isles, and the Princeton Recreation Department, to name a few.

“Bill was a unique individual, a person who made a real difference in the world,” said Leslie Burger, executive director of the Princeton Public Library. “We have lost a true philanthropist, Renaissance man, passionate supporter, and most of all, a dear friend.”

“I shudder to think where we would be were it not for the support of Bill and Judy Scheide,” said James C. McCloskey, founder and executive director of Centurion Ministries, a Princeton-based non-profit organization which seeks to free wrongly convicted individuals from prison. “He was a giant of philanthropy for his entire life. He really uplifted the lives of countless people over the decades, a lot of whom were the nation’s disenfranchised. And he was a modest man who shunned the limelight.”

In addition to his wife, Judy McCartin Scheide, Mr. Scheide is survived by his daughters Louise Marshall and Barbara Scheide, and his son John; three stepchildren, Carol Taylor, Mary Holmes, and Kate McCartin, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Born in Philadelphia into a wealthy family whose fortune came from Standard Oil, Mr. Scheide was the only child of John Hinsdale Scheide, an 1896 alumnus of Princeton University, and Harriet Hurd. The elder Mr. Scheide was a pianist and his wife was a singer. They started their son with piano lessons when he was six years old, beginning a passion for music that continued throughout his life.

Mr. Scheide majored in history at Princeton University and earned a master’s degree in music from Columbia University. He was a renowned Bach scholar who founded the Bach Aria Group in 1946. For the past seven years, the Scheides celebrated his birthday by sponsoring annual concerts by leading ensembles and orchestras, benefitting local institutions. The most recent, “Ode to Joy,” included the Westminster Symphonic Choir, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, and several soloists. A piece Mr. Scheide composed as an undergraduate was included on the program.

“Bill was a good friend to me and to the [Westminster] Choir College,” commented Robert Annis, dean and director, Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts. “He served on Westminster’s Board for 27 years, nine of them as chairman. A renowned Bach scholar, he was a frequent lecturer and engaged leader who underscored his belief in the mission of the College with generous support. Westminster was honored to participate in his 100th birthday concert in Princeton in January, 2014. He leaves an inspiring legacy through the lives of our students who are serving the world through music.”

Another of Mr. Scheide’s passions nurtured from childhood was his collection of rare books and manuscripts. He is the namesake of the Scheide Library at Princeton University’s Firestone Library. In a room built to replicate the original home of his father’s collection, the library includes the first four Bibles ever printed, an early 14th century manuscript of the Magna Carta, an original copy of the Declaration of Independence, several musical manuscripts by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Wagner, and Emily Dickinson’s recipe for chocolate pudding, according to the Princeton University website.

“People always talk about the treasures of the Scheide Library. But the reality is that the real treasure was Bill himself,” said Karin Trainer, Princeton’s University Librarian. “He was a great collector. But what set him apart was that he was a great sharer. He collected with a scholarly passion, but he really wanted other people to be as enthusiastic as he was and understand why they were important. And that’s not true of all collectors.”

Mr. Scheide made the collection available to all. “He wanted it to be for the newest Princeton undergraduates and the world’s most eminent scholars and musicians, who were regular visitors,” Ms. Trainer said. “The collection was always open to students at Princeton Adult School, for example. He would take out his copy of the Gutenberg Bible or the Declaration of Independence and get them to understand why these things mattered. He delighted in that.”

Mr. Scheide was also committed to social justice, funding the landmark 1954 case that desegregated public schools. “He was an extraordinarily moral and ethical man,” Ms. Trainer said. “I’m very struck by the fact that this is the 60th anniversary of the settlement of Brown v. The Board of Education. Bill underwrote much of the legal fund that fought that case for what became the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.”

Princeton University awarded Mr. Scheide an honorary doctorate of humanities in 1994, calling him an “advocate, scholar, student, benefactor, and friend.” The Scheides were regular hosts during the annual University reunions of the “Old Guard,” who were alumni of classes celebrating 66 years or more. “You always knew it was Reunions because the Old Guard tent would go up on the Scheide lawn,” said James Steward, director of the Princeton University Art Museum.

Mr. Scheide was a loyal patron and contributor to the Museum, especially in times of need. “One of the extraordinary things about Bill and Judy was how often I found myself turning to them as what we would call angels,” Mr. Steward said. “I could so often call them to step up if a project wasn’t going as well as expected. They understood that sometimes the most worthwhile projects are the harder ones.”

The Arts Council of Princeton was another beneficiary of Mr. Scheide’s support. “Bill was a pioneer in many ways, serving as a staunch supporter of the arts and civil rights,” said a statement by the Arts Council’s executive director Jeff Nathanson, president Cindi Venizelos, and advisory board co-chair Peter Bienstock. “Bill understood that the primary goal of a community arts organization such as the Arts Council of Princeton, should be to bring together people of all backgrounds, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or socioeconomic situation, in a shared creative environment. He was a consistent supporter of the Arts Council’s mission of “building community through the arts and we hope each and every one of us can, in our own small way, embody his passion and continue to further his legacy.”

Contributions in Mr. Scheide’s memory may be made to Centurion Ministries of Princeton and Isles, the Trenton-based community development and environmental organization.

 

Parking around the John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS) was hard to find Sunday afternoon and it wasn’t just because there was a swim meet and a football game in progress. More than 130 people turned out to welcome guest speaker Robert Pariss Moses to the school to inaugurate a series of programs at the Princeton Public Library, JWMS, and Princeton University marking the 50th anniversary of the events in Mississippi during the summer of 1964 С the Mississippi Summer Project or Freedom Summer as it became known.

But although he was expected to reminisce about his part in the 1964 campaign to register African Americans in Mississippi to vote, Mr. Moses launched into a conversation with the young people attending. Instead of the lecture podium on the stage, he chose to stand on the floor of the auditorium directly in front of the stage and invited the middle schoolers to join him in conversation. As their elders watched and listened, the veteran teacher gave everyone a lesson in history and in pedagogy.

One of the most influential black leaders of the civil rights movement, Mr. Moses initiated and organized voter registration drives, sit-ins, and Freedom Schools for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He led the campaign to bring a thousand volunteers С primarily enthusiastic young white supporters — to Mississippi to encourage African-American voters to register to vote, to provide education via summer schools, and to convene a more representative delegation to attend the Democratic National Convention.

Today, Mr. Moses runs the Algebra Project that he founded in 1980 to improve math education in poor communities. His book, which he co-authored with Charles E. Cobb, Jr., is titled: Radical Equations: Civil Rights From Mississippi to the Algebra Project.

Co-sponsored by the library, Not in Our Town Princeton, Princeton Public Schools, Princeton University, and the Princeton Garden Theatre, Sunday’s event was introduced by Tim Quinn of the Princeton Board of Education and Janie Hermann of the Princeton Public Library.

Taneshia Nash Laird, founder of the Baker Street Social Club, introduced the speaker, who was so well known to the audience that many stood to applaud him before he began to speak.

Ms. Laird said that she had been so nervous about introducing the iconic figure that she had asked her pastor how she should go about it. “Humbly, like the man himself,” was the reply.

The conversation between Mr. Moses and the students centered on the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution, which begins with the words, “We the people.”

In classic Socratic manner, Mr. Moses explored the concepts of “constitutional person” and “constitutional property” with the middle-schoolers. He asked them to think about the Preamble’s words. “Who were the ‘we’ when the country first got started in 1787?” he asked.

In less than one hour, with patience and encouragement, Mr. Moses and the young students explored the meaning of the Preamble and the exclusion of women, Africans, and Native peoples from the collective “we,” as well as chattel slavery; the Civil War; the implications of The Constitution’s Article 4, Section 2, Paragraph 3 (The Fugitive Slave clause); constitutional amendments 13 (abolishes slavery), 14 (addresses citizenship rights), and 15 (addresses voting rights); and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Circular 3591 (concerning peonage and debt-slavery), which he urged them to “Google” when they got home; Brown v. The Board of Education, among other aspects of United States history.

Describing American history in terms of balancing two opposing ideas of constitutional person and constitutional property, Mr. Moses said that the country had lurched forward after the Civil War and backwards since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. After Freedom Summer the country is now in a “third constitutional era,” he said and asked students to think about the kind of country they will create in 30 years time. “Who then will be the ‘we’ in ‘We the people,’” he asked.

He urged his listeners to learn the Preamble and recite it; to think about it as “something we do.” In other words he suggested the Preamble not as a record of history but as a living document that could be “enacted” for each new generation of speakers, encompassing a wider group as time goes on.

Asked afterwards why he had chosen to focus on the constitution rather than reminiscence on his past, Mr. Moses explained: “The country is at a point of choice, democracy is unstable and huge forces are operating. As we shift from industrial to information-age technology, we need a deeper understanding of the Constitution and the force that it has.”

Thirteen-year-old Denzel, an eighth-grader at JWMS described Mr. Moses’s talk as “inspirational. “I learned a lot,” he said, adding that he would be “Googling” Circular 3591 as Mr. Moses had suggested and that he was eager to learn more about the work of Douglas Blackmon, the Pulitzer Prize winning author cited by Mr. Moses for his book Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. Mr. Blackmon’s book examines how the enslavement of African-Americans persisted deep into the 20th century.

Traveling Exhibition

After Mr. Moses’s talk, the audience enjoyed a reception and viewed the traveling exhibition, “Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Exhibit for Students,” from the Wisconsin Historical Society, which has one of the nation’s most extensive collections of Civil Rights material.

“Risking Everything” features 70 photographs, manuscripts, diaries and other primary source materials documenting the Freedom Summer volunteers’s efforts to integrate “all-white” businesses and to register residents to vote. It shows residents and volunteers who came to Mississippi from all over the United States and the opponents they faced. Having toured major museums and libraries throughout the year, the exhibition is making a last stop in Princeton, the only stop in New Jersey.

The exhibition will be on display at JWMS through November 23 before it moves to the Princeton University’s Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding where it will be on view November 25 through December 5.

Upcoming Events

Freedom Summer programs continue Thursday, November 20, at 7 p.m. when Princeton residents and others share their memories of Freedom Summer and civil rights events a Freedom Summer Panel Discussion, moderated by Shirley Satterfield and members of Not in Our Town, in the library’s Community Room.

Princeton Garden Theatre at 160 Nassau Street will screen the documentary film Freedom Summer Sunday, November 23, at 1 p.m. Director Stanley Nelson captures the volatile months of Freedom Summer and Mr. Moses’s campaign to bring a thousand volunteers–primarily enthusiastic young white supporters–to Mississippi to encourage African-American voter registration, provide education and convene a more representative delegation to attend the Democratic National Convention.

Tickets for the 1 hour and 53 minute film are free, but limited, and may be reserved through the theater’s website, thegardentheatre.com.

For more information about library programs and services, call (609) 924-9529 or visit www.princetonlibrary.org.

 

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The death of William H. Scheide, shown here with his wife Judy, is “a huge loss for Princeton and the town of Princeton,” according to University Librarian Karin Trainer, one of several people to praise Mr. Scheide for his dedication and generosity. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

November 15, 2014

William Scheide, the Princeton philanthropist whose fields of expertise included music and rare books and manuscripts, died Friday morning. He was 100.

Mr. Scheide’s generosity in recent years included the sponsorship of annual orchestral concerts that raised funds for such beneficiaries as the Princeton Public Library, the Princeton Recreation Department, Westminster Choir College of Rider University, Isles, Centurion Ministries, and the Arts Council of Princeton.

He played a crucial part in the establishment of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. He established the Scheide Library at Princeton University, from which he graduated in 1936, and the collection includes musical manuscripts by Bach, a 14th century Magna Carta, and a first edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost. 

“This is a huge loss for Princeton University and the town of Princeton,” said Karin Trainer, Princeton University librarian. “People always talk about the treasures in the Scheide Library, but the reality is that the real treasure was Bill himself.”

An extensive story about Mr. Scheide will appear in the Wednesday, November 19 edition of Town Topics.

November 14, 2014

Former United States President Jimmy Carter will come to Princeton University’s Chapel on Tuesday, December 3 at 2 p.m. to discuss his new book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power.

Books will be available at the event for purchase and signing. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Distribution for Princeton University students will start November 17 at noon at the Frist Campus Center. Faculty and staff tickets will be available on November 19 at noon, and tickets for the public become available at the same time on November 21. Distribution will continue while supplies last Monday to Friday, noon to 6 p.m. The public is permitted two tickets per person.

Carter’s book is an exploration of challenges to women’s rights that are made by their own religious communities. Visit www.princeton.edu for more information.

November 13, 2014

White House holiday decorator Coleen Christian Burke will visit the Designer Showhouse & Gardens Holiday Edition, at 159 Library Place, on Saturday, November 15 at 1 p.m. Ms. Burke will speak and sign copies of her book, Christmas With the First Ladies. Books will be available for purchase.

The book captures the Christmas decorating history and techniques at the White House, from Jackie Kennedy through Michelle Obama. It includes anecdotes and intimate photos of the presidential families during the holidays, as well as personal craft and recipes used by the first ladies.

On November 22, also at 1 p.m., a book signing with Maureen Petrosky, author of The Wine Club, The Cocktail Club, creator of the Maker Lifestyle Website, will visit to speak and sign her books.

The Georgian house designed by John Russell Pope includes 15 interior design spaces as well as garden areas, decorated by local designers and landscapers. The house will be open November 14-16 and 20-23. Visit www.jlgp.org for more information.

November 12, 2014
JWMS STUDENTS ATTACK HUNGER: John Witherspoon Middle School eighth grade student Harvi Shergill, shown here outside Sam’s Club preparing to ask customers for on the spot food donations, is among the resourceful students taking part in the “Students Change Hunger Challenge for New Jersey.” JWMS is seeking non-perishable food items such as pasta, rice, lentils, flour; boxed desserts and mac & cheese; canned goods such as vegetables, fruits, soups, tuna, and ham; as well as shelf-stable milk. For safety’s sake no foodstuffs in glass containers are requested but checks made out to the Mercer Street Friends are welcomed through November 20.(Photo by Aman Shergill)

JWMS STUDENTS ATTACK HUNGER: John Witherspoon Middle School eighth grade student Harvi Shergill, shown here outside Sam’s Club preparing to ask customers for on the spot food donations, is among the resourceful students taking part in the “Students Change Hunger Challenge for New Jersey.” JWMS is seeking non-perishable food items such as pasta, rice, lentils, flour; boxed desserts and mac & cheese; canned goods such as vegetables, fruits, soups, tuna, and ham; as well as shelf-stable milk. For safety’s sake no foodstuffs in glass containers are requested but checks made out to the Mercer Street Friends are welcomed through November 20. (Photo by Aman Shergill)

Students at John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS) are reaching out to the community for help in their efforts to combat hunger.

They have taken on the task in response to the “Students Change Hunger Challenge for New Jersey,” and their goal is to collect at least 3,000 pounds of food by November 20.

Between now and then, students will be collecting non perishable food items as well as monetary donations, with each single dollar collected (in the form of a check to the Mercer Street Friends) equivalent to one pound of food.

And it looks like their efforts are already paying off. One student, Anuhav Suri, has already collected over 1,000 pounds of food, said JWMS teacher Kelly Riely, the school’s technology teacher and advisor to the Do Something Club, the PPS Girls Club, and track and field coach. “This is an amazing effort.”

“Our students want to help our friends and neighbors stamp out hunger and we will be having a pep rally in a couple weeks, when they will travel by bus with the food donations truck to the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank. They will tour the facility and help weigh and sort the donated food,” said JWMS parent Aman Shergill, who helped organize the drive in response to a request from the Mercer Street Friends.

Thinking that middle-schoolers would be the “right age group to be actively involved, to help stamp out hunger as well as a good opportunity for them to understand this is for real and close to home,” Ms Shergill contacted Ms. Riely. “With a yes from our school principals, we were good to go,” she said. “This is a great ‘lead by example’ opportunity, not only for my own children, but for others too.”

Besides Ms. Riely and her students, fellow teacher Ashante Thompson brought members of her Peer to Peer group into the effort.

According to Ms. Riely, the hunger challenge is not only of benefit to the community, it yields opportunities for teaching too. “This has been an incredible lesson,” she said. “Students have researched food insecurity and have written scripts for our internal broadcasts; they interviewed our food director, peers, and teachers about food insecurity and the importance of advocating for those in need. The Do Something Club has seen it’s biggest enrollment in over nine years; I attribute this to the passion our students have for those in need and this very cool statewide food challenge.”

“The Do Something Club meets two days a week, but for the last month I’ve had students showing up at my door almost every day asking ‘what can be done?’” said Ms. Riely. “Students designed marketing ads, brochures, posters, wrapped boxes, they tweeted, posted on social media, and much more to get the word out. Many students took it upon themselves to ‘can or treat’ on Halloween night, asking for support by way of canned good donations. One student even made it his personal mission to collect over 500 pounds of food; another, took it upon herself to personally ask managers and owners of over 20 stores for support through an internal employee drive. Another asked her father to run a collection at his football practices in Princeton. The response has been incredible,” she said. Local businesses and professionals also taking part in the “hunger challenge” are: dentists Dr. Stephen I. Hudis at 187 North Harrison Street; orthodontists Dr. Louis Russo and Dr. Jonathan Nicozisis at 601 Ewing Street; Infini-T Cafe; 4 Hulfish Street; Mike’s Barber, 33 Witherspoon Street; Star Glow on Route 206; The Savory Spice Shop, 15 Spring Street; and TJ Pizza, 2661 Main Street in Lawrenceville.

Ms. Riely also shared this emailed response from Anubhav Suri, a student member of the Do Something Club who wrote “without your encouragement and assistance I never would have been able to do something like this. I am really glad I took the opportunity to join the Do Something Club and I believe that it has made me a better person. I really enjoy doing kind things for others because it also gives me this great feeling and on top of it all it is really, really fun!”

“This is why we teach,” enthused Ms. Riley, adding that with only two weeks to go, the school is already half way to achieving its goal.

Non-perishable food items may be dropped off at the School’s main office at 217 Walnut Lane. In addition, there are collection points in the Princeton Public Schools Administration Building at 25 Valley Road; the Princeton Police Station in Witherspoon Hall; McCaffrey’s Supermarket in the Princeton Shopping Center; and the Shoprite on Route 206.

To donate dollars, checks should be made out to the Mercer Street Friends with the words “JWMS SCHC” in the memo line. All donations go to the Mercer Street Friends to benefit over 40 food pantries. The school which donates the most pounds of food will be awarded the “Governor’s Cup.”

elinhilderbrandYou don’t have to have visited Nantucket to be a fan of Elin Hilderbrand. Readers who eagerly await her annual summer novels, set on the idyllic island off the Massachusetts coast, may have never disembarked from the Hy-Line Ferry onto the town’s quaint, unspoiled streets. They may have yet to visit the beautiful beaches of Wauwinet or Surfside, or the picture-perfect village of Siasconset, which any self-respecting local or frequent vacationer knows as “Sconset.”

But diving into Ms. Hilderbrand’s newest book each summer, her fans feel at home. The author, who will discuss her latest release at 7 p.m. Thursday evening, November 13, at Princeton Public Library, has made the island where she has lived for the past two decades a comfortable, familiar place to come back to — even if only through her pages. “A lot of Americans have an idea in their heads about how summertime is supposed to be,” she said during a telephone interview this past Monday. “And people are very attached to those rituals. Living is generally easier, and people romanticize those times. My novels capitalize on that.”

Ms. Hilderbrand’s newest book, Winter Street, takes readers in a new direction. Instead of summer, it is set during the Christmas holidays. This is a different side of life on Nantucket, where the population shrinks dramatically during the winter months and locals like Ms. Hilderbrand and her family have the beaches, wildlife, streets, shops and restaurants — those that stay open — to themselves. “It used to be I really loved winter here more than I do now,” the author said. “It’s quiet, great for getting stuff done. I used to write at a friend’s house, but now I go to St. John for six weeks because my kids are older. But it’s a time of year on Nantucket that I wanted to write about.”

Winter Street revolves around the various dramas of a close-knit family who run a failing inn on the island. Part of the appeal of Ms. Hilderbrand’s novels is that characters who might appear to have it all experience the frustrations, losses, and relationship problems with which most people can identify. While some of the author’s stories include locals with limited resources, many focus on people who have plenty of money. The wealth of Nantucket, especially in summer, has not escaped Ms. Hildebrand’s notice.

“There’s a glamorous aspect to Nantucket that wasn’t so much the case when I first came here,” the author said. “There is lots of money, culture, restaurants, amazingly good food, wine, parties — a lot of really awesome things going on. But it has its down side. I’m working on a novel now, called The Rumor, where the characters are drowning financially. I really wanted, in this one, to talk about what happens here if you don’t have any money.”

As its title suggests, The Rumor is “about small town gossip,” she said. “I like to alternate between year-round-people books and summer-people-books.”

Starting with The Beach Club in 2000, Ms. Hilderbrand has come out with a summer release almost every year. It is a formula she hit on unexpectedly after spending her first summer on the island. “I started writing about Nantucket because I was so homesick for it,” she said. “And it sort of took off from there.”

A native of Collegeville, Pennsylvania, Ms. Hilderbrand knew in second grade that she would be a writer. “My teacher gave all of us awards at the end of the year, and I got ‘top author.’ That was it. I knew I would be an author. I have never wanted to be anything else.”

She majored in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, taught English in New York City and enrolled in workshops at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y. She applied and was accepted to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, from which she earned a master’s degree. It was around that time that she sublet her New York apartment and spent a fateful summer on Nantucket. “Once I got there, I decided I never wanted to leave,” she said. “I came home to teach, but in the spring of 1994 moved there for good, not counting graduate school.”

Followers of Ms. Hilderbrand on social media know she has battled breast cancer in recent months, enduring a double mastectomy and an infection during the reconstruction process that requires another six-month reconstruction. But her prognosis is good and she seems upbeat, if inconvenienced, by the situation. Her appearance in Princeton is part of an 11-event tour that was only slightly modified following her medical problems.

The fact that the annual release of her books has become a tradition to readers all over the country thrills Ms. Hilderbrand. “It has become a ritual for people, which is so great for me and I love it,” she said. “You can be anywhere and you get this novel and that will be part of your summer. And reading of a certain kind is part of summer vacation. I want to provide good summertime escape, with characters you’re going to care about.”

 

A brick Georgian house at 159 Library Place will be open November 13-16 and 20-23 as The Junior League of Princeton’s Designer Showhouse & Gardens: Holiday Edition.

The magnificent home was designed by John Russell Pope, designer of The National Archives and Records Administration, the Jefferson Memorial, and the West Building of the National Gallery of Art, among others. Fifteen interior design spaces, as well as exterior lawn and garden areas, have been decorated by local designers and landscape architects including Ronni Hock, Michael Herold, Susan Taylor, Jeffrey Queripel, Kelly Ingram, and Stewart von Oehsen, among others.

In addition to the new holiday theme, unique features include a Junior League Community Giving Tree, Pop-Up Art Gallery and Junior League-Past (JLGP), Present and Future exhibit. The JLGP Community Giving Tree will display ornaments, available for purchase, created by the children of community program partners, The Cherry Tree Club Nursery School, and Better Beginnings.

The Pop-Up Art Gallery will feature works of local artists for sale. A portion of each sale will support the league’s mission and community projects. Also included will be a Holiday Cabana by Shelby Tewell and Jenn Brandt.

Tickets are $35. The house will be open November 13, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; November 14-16 and 20-23, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday. For information, visit www.jlgp.org.