November 18, 2020

A FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER: Pianist Isata and cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, members of a famous musical family from the UK, will perform as part of Princeton University Concerts’ online season. A virtual visit with their parents and a “watch party” complete with afternoon tea are also planned.

By Anne Levin

Even before the extraordinarily musical siblings of the Kanneh-Mason family gained international notoriety when cellist Sheku, the third oldest, performed at the 2018 wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, they were on the radar of Princeton University Concerts (PUC) Artistic and Executive Director Marna Seltzer. But it wasn’t until the pandemic that she was able to schedule them for the long-running music series.

Sheku and his older sister Isata, a pianist, will appear on Sunday, November 29 at 3 p.m. in a live stream from the family’s home in Nottingham, England. The siblings will play works by Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and Saint-Saens, and will answer questions following the performance. Ten days before the concert, on Thursday, November 19 at 12 p.m., Helga Davis of WNYC radio will interview Kadiatu and Stuart Kanneh-Mason, parents of the seven classically trained siblings who range in age from 10 to 24. Talking points may include their back story and the issue of race in classical music.  more

PRESTIGIOUS AWARD: The renovation, restoration, and expansion of the Civic Theatre in Allentown, Pa., is among the projects for which Mills + Schnoering Architects has been recognized as AIANJ Firm of the Year. (Photo by Mills + Schnoering Architects/Aislinn Weidele)

By Anne Levin

Coming up on its 10th anniversary, the Princeton firm Mills + Schnoering Architects (M+Sa) has been honored by the American Institute of Architects New Jersey (AIANJ) with an especially welcome designation: Firm of the Year.

“This is very exciting for us,” said Meredith Bzdak, a partner with Michael Mills and Michael Schnoering. “We have a terrific legacy behind us, but we’ve grown some more in the last 10 years and have taken on some projects that we think are wonderful. We’ve expanded more nationally and have been incredibly lucky, doing the kind of projects we love. The decade has sped by.”

Those projects are cultural, civic, and educational. While M+Sa is known for historic preservation, it is not limited to that. “We like to consider ourselves a full-service design firm,” said Bzdak, an architectural historian by training. “We do have a very strong specialization in historic preservation, and that is a design discipline. We see it all under the same umbrella.” more

By Donald Gilpin

The pandemic has forced schools to adapt with numerous, constantly evolving manifestations of remote, hybrid, and restricted in-person learning. The particular nature of arts education has created some of the greatest challenges for COVID-era teachers at Princeton Public Schools (PPS), along with some of the most creative and effective solutions.

“The arts are alive and well at Princeton Public Schools,” said PPS Visual and Performing Arts Supervisor Patrick Lenihan. “We’ve definitely learned a lot from this situation. We’re finding creative solutions to the challenges in front of us and we’re using these to make great music and art together.”

Masks and social distancing are required, of course, but, a PPS press release reports, some special measures have been introduced to keep the visual and performing arts classes safe and on course. These include tents with flaps up to let the breeze through during outdoor rehearsals, special masks for singers and masks with flaps over the mouth for wind instrument players to allow a mouthpiece to be inserted, bell covers for the ends of trumpets and trombones, and bags that hold the woodwind instruments, blocking the aerosols but allowing students to see their fingers.

While rehearsals might be in-person when possible or otherwise by Zoom, the current plan is for performances to be virtual, like the Princeton High School Choir’s Songs from the American Songbook concert on the district website last month, or the PHS Spectacle Theater production 12 Incompetent Jurors (a spoof of 12 Angry Men) this weekend, November 20 and 21, or the Princeton Unified Middle School’s Brief Interviews with Internet Cats on December 4 and 5.

For these productions, students record tracks individually at home, and those tracks are carefully mixed together to create the live-streamed performance.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

Here’s something about your old friend Ronnie,” says my wife as she hands me the Arts section of Thursday’s New York Times. In the photograph above Adam Nagourney’s article on the new Showtime docu-series The Reagans (“Parsing the Seeds Reagan Sowed”), my “old friend” is looking almost as villainous as he does playing a crime boss who arranges murders and abuses his mistress in Don Siegel’s The Killers.

How did the Gipper and I get to be friendly? And if we’re such pals, why did I vote for Carter in 1980 and work the phones for Mondale in ‘84? More to the point, why did I spend the last half of the 1980s following the highs and lows of his film career and his presidency? The simple answer: we had a fictional relationship. I was working on a novel about the owner of a rundown New Jersey “movie palace” who was writing a series of letters to a newly elected president.

My fictional alter ego was Lucas St. Clair, an ex-minor league ballplayer who’d inherited a movie house and planned to run all 53 of Reagan’s films beginning with an election week showing of Knute Rockne All-American. Thanks to Ted Turner’s purchase of the Warner archive, scores of old Reagan movies had been turning up on TNT and TCM. I taped them all, the good, the bad, and the merely mediocre, including comedies like She’s Working Her Way Through College where Ronnie performs a dynamite drunken professor scene and Bedtime for Bonzo in which he plays straight man to a monkey. I took a special interest in problematic roles like the epileptic biochemist in Night Unto Night, the well-meaning alcoholic playboy in Dark Victory, and the double amputee in King’s Row who wakes up to the reality crying, “Where’s the rest of me?”  That cry of horror from a small town ladies’ man would become the signature line of his movie life (along with “Win one for the Gipper”), as well as the title of his 1965 autobiography. That a future president would tag his life story with such an out-of-left-field title intrigued me, especially given that the author was running for governor of California the year the book was published. Reagan’s fixation on that surreal moment of existential mutilation is among the quirks of character that make him so devious a subject (“as strange a fellow as any of us had ever met,” according to his son Ron’s memoir, My Father at 100). Think of it: this is the role and the film he considered a career highlight, even to the point of showing King’s Row at the White House, to friends, staff members, and visiting heads of state. more

“HE BROUGHT HER HEART BACK IN A BOX”: Round House Theatre, in association with McCarter Theatre Center, is presenting a prerecorded video of Adrienne Kennedy’s “He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box.” Directed by Nicole A. Watson, the video will be available online through February 28, 2021. Above, Kay (Maya Jackson, left) and Chris (Michael Sweeney Hammond) exchange letters that reveal disturbing family histories. (Video still courtesy of Round House Theatre)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

McCarter is partnering with the Round House Theatre (which is in Bethesda, Maryland) to present an online festival, The Work of Adrienne Kennedy: Inspiration and Influence. The four-part series debuted Saturday, with Kennedy’s one-act play He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box.

In a press release, McCarter’s Artistic Director Sarah Rasmussen praises Kennedy as “an African American woman … who broke convention in the face of traditional barriers that prevented a much-deserved spotlight.” Round House Theatre’s Artistic Director Ryan Rilette adds that Kennedy’s plays are “beautiful, poetic conversations on race and power that are just as necessary now as they were fifty years ago.”

Kennedy has won multiple Obie Awards, including one for Lifetime Achievement (2008). She has been commissioned by companies such as the Public Theater and the Mark Taper Forum. In 2018 she was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame. McCarter’s press release notes that her plays are “taught in colleges throughout the country, in Europe, India, and Africa.”

He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box depicts a young couple separated by disparate racial backgrounds, as well as distinct physical locations. Dual train rides become journeys in which each discovers the other’s troublesome past.  more

By Nancy Plum

Princeton Symphony Orchestra presented the sixth and final concert in its fall “indoor/outdoor” classical season this past Sunday afternoon by digitally launching a virtual performance led by the ensemble’s Assistant Conductor Nell Flanders. Flanders, recently named to this position with the Symphony, led members of the Symphony’s string sections in a performance also featuring noted violinist Elina Vähälä. With the orchestral portions filmed at Princeton’s Morven Education Center and Vähälä’s Bach solo recorded at the Church of St. Olaf in the southern Finnish town of Sysmä, Flanders and the 11 string players of the Symphony presented a concert which was a tribute to both the Baroque era and early 20th-century America.  

Born in America’s Deep South at the turn of the 20th century, composer Florence Price emerged from the violent racial atmosphere of the time to become a musical pioneer whose music has only recently begun to receive much-deserved attention. Much of Price’s repertory was lost after her death, but was rediscovered in an attic of an abandoned house in rural Illinois. Price composed her 1929 String Quartet only as a two-movement work, and it is thought that this piece was not heard between Price’s death in 1953 and a performance in 2015. In Sunday afternoon’s concert, Princeton Symphony presented the second movement andante moderato, rooted in the vocal spiritual tradition.

The string players of Princeton Symphony began Price’s String Quartet movement with a lush melody they could really sink their musical teeth into, as Flanders conducted with broad strokes without a baton to emphasize the richness of the melodic material. This was the kind of music in which the players could load up on vibrato, however the ensemble resisted this temptation and played with a lean yet rich sound, especially in a viola sectional solo from Stephanie Griffin and Emily Muller. Flanders milked the movement’s rubatos well, and although this work was composed in a turbulent time period, the broad melodic passages were full of hope and opportunity.  

Violinist Elina Vähälä was born in the United States, raised in Finland, and has appeared with orchestras worldwide while maintaining a strong commitment to music education in Finland. The Viuluakatemia Ry violin academy, which she founded in 2009 in Finland, serves as a master class-based educational initiative for talented young Finnish violinists. Vähälä was supposed to have appeared with Princeton Symphony this season in a performance of Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, but instead presented a pre-recorded performance from a small church in the lake region of Finland. For this performance, Vähälä chose one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s most well-known works for unaccompanied violin, but one which included some of the most intricate music the composer wrote. Bach’s Partita for Violin #2 in D minor, BWV 1004 was structured in a five-movement dance format common in Bach’s time. The concluding chaconne is a four-bar melodic ground bass repeated 64 times over which the upper strings spin a continuous series of variations in a close to 15-minute movement.   more

BAH, HUMBUG: Jefferson Mays plays Ebeneezer Scrooge in a filmed version of “A Christmas Carol,” benefiting George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick and other regional theaters affected by the pandemic. (Photo by Chris Whitaker)

George Street Playhouse and producer Hunter Arnold have announced that a special filmed version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starring Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays, will be released worldwide on Saturday, November 28. This streaming video event will benefit George Street Playhouse as well as other community, amateur, and regional theaters across the country which have been devastated by the pandemic.

Directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Michael Arden, adapted by Mays, Susan Lyons, and Arden, and conceived by Arden and Tony Award nominee Dane Laffrey, the filmed version is based on the 2018 production which made its world premiere at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse.

“George Street Playhouse is thrilled to join producer Hunter Arnold on this nationwide event,” said George Street Playhouse Artistic Director David Saint. “These are extraordinary times and the opportunity to present a virtual version of this acclaimed performance is exactly what we need this holiday season.”

“As not-for-profit theaters continue to produce and present high-quality virtual content, we are honored to participate in this nationwide opportunity to stream one of the holiday’s favorite titles, A Christmas Carol,” said Kelly Ryman, managing director of George Street Playhouse. “Theaters throughout the nation are offering this virtual production which promises to bring cheer to all who see it.” more

On November 22, Princeton University’s carillonneur Lisa Lonie, shown here with the instrument in Grover Cleveland Tower at the Graduate College, will perform musical tributes to Sean Connery, Alex Trebek, and a crowd favorite – “Imagine” by John Lennon. The concerts start at 1 p.m., are free, and are performed rain or shine through the holidays. The grounds surrounding the Cleveland Tower afford many opportunities to socially distance. Visit gradschool.princeton.edu for more information. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Lonie)

CHOREOGRAPHY DURING COVID: Senior Ysabel Ayala interacts with Henry Moore’s sculpture “Oval with Points” on the Princeton campus while rehearsing a solo work she created that will be among the pieces presented in “Princeton Dance Festival Reimagined.” (Photo by Jonathan Sweeney)

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance at Princeton University presents Princeton Dance Festival Reimagined, a virtual edition of its major annual concert exploring dance in the COVID era through new works, November 23 at 8:30 p.m. and December 3-5 at 8 p.m. Professional choreographers Peter Chu, Francesca Harper, Rebecca Lazier, Dean Moss, Silas Riener, and Olivier Tarpaga have worked with Princeton dance students to explore the intersections of dance and multimedia performance, digital animation, filmmaking, site-based work, and music.

Each evening is a completely different and unique experience followed by a question and answer session with the choreographers. The Dance Festival is free and open to the public with registration required for each performance. Pre-recorded content will be closed captioned and live performances and conversations will be open captioned.

Along with the entire global dance community, the Program in Dance is exploring the challenges of dance in a socially distanced world. Work over the past semester culminates in the Dance Festival to consider how dance artists can create new methods of dance and choreography for the online environment that reimagine frontiers of physical practice and the choreographic space. Participating students are currently taking their Princeton courses online from throughout the U.S. and abroad. more

HomeFront’s ArtJam for the Holidays, a reimagined art event in response to the current times, runs through December 12.

ArtJam for the Holidays features the work of more than 50 local and regional artists, ArtSpace, and SewingSpace artists. One-of-a-kind art is offered for sale — online and in-person at the HomeFront Family Campus in the Blue Garage in Ewing by appointment only.

Paintings, pottery, glasswork, and hand-sewn items comprise a diversity of visual art and fine crafts as well as home and holiday décor. Proceeds will help support the artists and ArtSpace programs.

For more information, visit artjamnj.org. By appointment gallery hours are Thursdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.

The annual holiday tradition at Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton Street, showcases a juried collection of trees and mantles displayed throughout the museum’s galleries, upstairs and down. Safe, socially distanced, and masked visits inside the museum follow CDC guidelines. On view Wednesdays through Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., through January 10. Timed ticketing through morven.org, limited walkups available.

BLACK LIVES MATTER: This collaborative four-panel mural can be found on the side of the Artworks main gallery building at 19 Everett Alley in downtown Trenton.

Artworks, Trenton’s visual arts center, has unveiled a collaborative four-panel mural in solidarity with the goals of justice and racial equity advanced by the Black Lives Matter movement across the country.

Each panel is executed in a black and white palette by a different artist, based on their interpretation of images taken by Trenton photographer Habiyb Shu’Aib during the summer Black Lives Matter protests in Trenton. The artists are Quentin “Kwenci” Jones, Jonathan “Lank” Conner, and Roy Haynes, all of Trenton, and Andre Trenier of Bronx, New York. The panels were framed into a cohesive whole, with lettering, by Trenton artist Wills Kinsley.  more

“SUN SPOT”: Tiffany Fang of Princeton won Best in Show for this graphite-on-paper work at the 2020 Mercer County Artists Exhibit, hosted by The Gallery at Mercer County Community College. The show was held virtually this year.

Tiffany Fang of Princeton took home Best in Show at the 2020 Mercer County Artists Exhibit, hosted by The Gallery at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) on Thursday, October 29, for her graphite-on-paper piece, Sun Spot. The show was held virtually using online conferencing.

Another notable winner was MCCC alumna and 2019 Best in Show awardee Megan Serfass of Princeton Junction for her oil on canvas piece, Glitch.

The exhibition, an outgrowth of a partnership between the college and the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission dating back to the mid-1990s, accepted 27 pieces from 21 artists. The show was organized by Gallery Director Alice K. Thompson, juried by Colleen McCubbin Stepanic, a mixed media artist, and sponsored by Blick Art Materials.

According to Thompson, it was initially feared that the exhibit would be one of the many events canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. “We decided to forge ahead and celebrate the arts at a time when we arguably need it most,” Thompson said. more

BETTER BUILDING: “We do everything from historic renovation to modern glass and steel projects. As we near a quarter of a century of restoring, adding on to, and building some of Princeton’s most distinguished homes, the gratification that comes from collaborating with area architects remains as strong as ever.” Tom Pinneo (far right), co-owner with Chris Myers (second from right), of Pinneo Construction, is shown with the Pinneo team at a recent project.

By Jean Stratton

Authenticity, transparency, collaboration.

These are the core values, the foundation of Pinneo Construction.

When Tom Pinneo established his company in 1996 at 372 Wall Street, these principles were uppermost. “My partner Chris Myers, who joined me in 2002, and I have been deliberate in creating a process-driven company that prioritizes financial transparency and collaboration with our clients and their architects. This sets us apart.”

A lot sets Pinneo Construction apart, including the background and experience of its owner. A graduate of Princeton High School and Middlebury College, Tom Pinneo earned an M.A. in Eastern Asian studies from Stanford University. more

LOST WINTER: Princeton University men’s basketball player Richmond Aririguzoh goes up for a lay-up in a 2019 game against Penn before a throng at Jadwin Gym. There won’t be any crowds at Jadwin this season as the Ivy League Council of Presidents said last Thursday that they have canceled winter sports for league schools during the 2020-21 season. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Normally by mid-November, fans would have already been flocking to Jadwin Gym and Hobey Baker Rink to take in Princeton University basketball and hockey games.

As of last November 17th, there had been three hoops games played at Jadwin and five hockey games at Baker in the early stages of the 2019-20 campaign.

But these aren’t normal times, and last Thursday the Ivy League Council of Presidents canceled winter sports for league schools during the 2020-21 campaign, thereby leaving Jadwin and Baker empty this season along with Dillon Gym, DeNunzio Pool, the Stan Sieja Fencing Room, and the Jadwin Squash Courts, among other venues.

In addition, the presidents announced that the league will not conduct competition for fall sports during the upcoming spring semester. Lastly, competition for spring sports is postponed through at least the end of February 2021.

In reaching the decision, which was unanimous, the presidents said that “regrettably, the current trends regarding transmission of the COVID-19 virus and subsequent protocols that must be put in place are impeding our strong desire to return to intercollegiate athletics
competition in a safe manner.”

While Princeton University men’s basketball head coach Mitch Henderson was disappointed when he learned of the decision, it didn’t come as a surprise. more

PACK MENTALITY: Members of the Princeton High girls’ cross country take off in a race this fall. Last Saturday, PHS utilized the depth in its pack to place first in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Central Jersey Group 4 sectional championship meet at Thompson Park in Jamesburg. Pictured are Yana Medvedeva (left rear), Emma Lips (left foreground), Lucy Kreipke (middle), Kyleigh Tangen (hidden in the back), Sofia DaCruz (front right), and Robin Roth (far right). (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Yana Medvedeva felt an extra push being a senior as she competed in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Central Jersey Group 4 sectional cross country championship meet at Thompson Park last Saturday.

One of four seniors in the Princeton High girls’ lineup, Medvedeva closed out the Tigers scoring in 22nd place as PHS put its first four finishers in the top 10 to win their first CJ Group 4 sectional crown in school history.

“It feels so good,” said Medvedeva after a season-best 20:55.70 clocking. “It’s amazing. I’m a senior so it’s a really full circle moment. Two years ago, we couldn’t even qualify out of the section. I still can’t really believe it.”

The Tigers’ depth allowed them to edge a strong Montgomery team that had the top two individual finishers in the race. As for PHS, Charlotte Gilmore, a senior, led the way in fourth place in 19:32.50. Freshman Kyleigh Tangen – the lone newcomer to the Tigers’ top seven from a year ago – placed sixth in 19:59.30 and sophomore Lucy Kreipke was seventh in 20:04.50. Sophomore Robin Roth closed well for 10th place in 20:16.70. Medvedeva was 22nd, Sofia Dacruz was 33rd, and Emma Lips was 38th. It added up to a 49-54 win over runner-up Montgomery. Hunterdon Central was third with 100 points.

“We knew the race was going to come down to how tight our pack was,” said PHS head coach Jim Smirk.  more

HOLDING THE FORT: Princeton High field hockey goalie Franke deFaria, left, and Grace Rebak thwart a foe in recent action. Last Monday, junior deFaria made four saves in a losing cause as third-seeded PHS fell 1-0 to sixth-seeded Hillsborough in the Central West B sectional quarterfinals. The defeat left the Tigers with a final record of 8-2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With its season on the line, the Princeton High field hockey displayed its battling spirit.

Trailing sixth-seeded Hillsborough 1-0 in the waning moments of the Central West B sectional quarterfinals, third-seeded PHS generated three penalty corners right before and then after the buzzer.

While it looked like the Tigers scored on the third corner as the ball apparently trickled into the cage, a violation was called and PHS got a penalty stroke. Olivia Weir took the shot but it was turned away by Hillsborough goalie Niyati Ramanathan and the Tigers saw their 2020 campaign end with a disappointing 1-0 defeat.

PHS head coach Heather Serverson liked the way her squad scrapped at the end but wished that intensity had been more constant.

“Clearly when they realized that this might be our last game, they picked it up a bit,” said Serverson, whose team posted a final record of 8-2.

“They fought to the end, they did everything they could. We needed to do that for a larger duration of the game.”

Serverson acknowledged that Hillsborough played aggressively throughout the contest.

“I think Hillsborough did a better job than we did of moving to the ball,” said Serverson. more

BIG GUN: Gunnar Clingman shows his form this fall in his final season with the Princeton Day School boys’ cross country team. Clingman solidified his place as one of the top runners in program history, helping the Panthers go 4-3 and setting a PDS course record on two occasions. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Gunnar Clingman, producing a breakthrough season as a junior in 2019 put him on course to become one of the top runners in the history of the Princeton Day School boys’ cross country program.

Leading the pack for PDS, Clingman made steady improvement throughout that fall, culminating by taking second at the state Prep B state championship meet, clocking a time of 16:53 over the 5,000-meter course at the Blair Academy.

“I had run a 17:40 as a freshman, that was a one-off day, it was an outlier; my first race as a junior was two seconds off of that,” said Clingman, who took up running as a middle schooler.

“That was kind of ‘wow.’ I was progressing race by race and I kept going until the states. I went into states with a really good  mindset. I talked myself up to that so when I went out with Charlie [Charlie Koenig of Montclair Kimberley Academy] in the state race, I stayed up with him. He ended up taking me, he was a very strong runner. That was the moment where I was ready to keep going.”

With COVID-19 concerns leading to a limited 2020 season and the cancellation of state prep or county championship meets, Clingman turned his focus to the PDS pack.  more

ON THE BALL: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer goalie Trevor Kunkle tracks the ball in recent action. Last Thursday, senior Kunkle posted a shutout in his last high school appearance as PDS defeated Franklin High 2-0 in its season finale. The victory left the Panthers with a 6-5-1 record this fall. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Trevor Kunkle and his fellow seniors on the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team rose to the occasion last Thursday as the Panthers hosted Franklin High in their final high school game.

With goalie Kunkle posting a shutout and classmate Aidan McChesney notching the winning goal in the first half, PDS earned a 2-0 win to finish the fall at 6-5-1.

“It was definitely a big one, we have a great group of guys,” said Kunkle, reflecting on the finale.

“It is just sad that it is the last game and we won’t be able to put on this jersey again. I am glad that we ended up with a win.”

The Panther defense tightened up after squandering a late lead in a 4-3 loss to Bordentown two days earlier.

“In the last game we kind of folded toward the end,” said Kunkle.

“I am proud of them, they really stepped up and helped me out. I was able to do my job.”

Having started the season sharing time in the net with classmate Bruno Cucchi, Kunkle took over the starting job down the stretch. more

COLLEGE FAIR: Stuart Country Day School senior basketball star Laila Fair (seated) signs a letter of intent to attend Saint Joseph’s University and play for its Division I women’s hoops program. Pictured with Fair, from left, are Miles Fair, Lamar Fair, Rhetta Jack, and Zoe Fair. (Photo provided by Stuart Country Day School)

By Bill Alden

Laila Fair and Ariel Jenkins have beaten the odds when it comes to extending their basketball careers to the next level.

The two Stuart Country Day School senior hoops standouts have committed to attend Division I colleges and play for their women’s basketball programs with Fair heading to Saint Joseph’s and Jenkins on her way to Georgetown.

In a ceremony held in the Stuart gym last Wednesday to celebrate their achievements, Tartan basketball head coach Justin Leith noted how rare it is for a high school player to get that opportunity.

“It was just really nice, everyone was so happy for the girls,” said Leith reflecting on the ceremony.

“In the talk that I gave beforehand, I congratulated both families because it is a significant accomplishment. You go by the statistics, one percent of high school players get a college scholarship. So out of something like 500,000 players, 495,000 kids don’t get that opportunity and only 5,000 do.”

Fair, for her part, has been very diligent in pursuing that opportunity.

“Laila has put the time in; she has a tremendous work ethic,” said Leith of the 6’3 forward who piled up 265 points, 313 rebounds, and 66 blocked shots last winter as Stuart went 18-4, winning its third straight state Prep B title and advancing to the final of the Mercer County Tournament for the first time in program history. more

November 11, 2020

Visitors enjoyed the unusually warm weather Sunday afternoon at Terhune Orchards on Cold Soil Road, which extended its Fall Family Weekend activities due to the forecast. (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

COVID-19 case numbers are rising in Princeton and in every county in the state, and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has tightened restrictions on restaurants, bars, and interstate youth sports.

Murphy announced Monday, November 9, that bars and restaurants must stop indoor service by 10 p.m., and barside seating at bars will be banned, beginning November 12. Also, Murphy announced that all interstate games and tournaments for indoor youth sports, up to and including high school, are prohibited.

The Princeton Health Department reported on Monday that the weekly total of 16 new cases and biweekly case count of 23 are the highest weekly and biweekly totals for Princeton since early May, the height of case counts in town. There were 13 active positive cases in Princeton on Tuesday of this week.      

“Princeton is officially in its next peak of cases or second surge,” Princeton Press and Media Communications Director Fred Williams wrote in an email. “The governor’s actions are steps in the right direction. The goal is to gain and maintain compliance with COVID-19 mitigation measures and not be forced to shut things down.”

He continued, “We’re beginning to see cases popping up tied to Halloween parties and other social gatherings as well. Cases are also stemming from club/travel sports and occupational exposures, which are then leading to household exposures. As we near Thanksgiving, Princeton must continue to abide by public health guidance, which flattened the curve in the first place. Scaling back means we can continue to move our economy and live our lives during what is traditionally a big quarter for business and a time of goodwill socializing during the holiday season.” more

By Donald Gilpin

In what appears to be a vote of confidence in the School Board’s work over the past few years, incumbents Michele Tuck-Ponder and Beth Behrend, along with new candidate Jean Durbin, have established a commanding lead over the five other challengers in the race for three positions on the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE).

The results will not be official until certified by the county clerk on November 23, as the Mercer County Board of Elections can continue to count the final ballots — mail-ins that arrived in the week after the November 3 Election Day and a few provisional ballots — through November 20.

At last count, Tuck-Ponder, currently BOE vice president, had won 5,279 votes (19.52 percent of the votes cast in last Tuesday’s election), Behrend, BOE president, had 5,127 votes (18.95 percent), and Durbin was in third place with 4,217 votes (15.59 percent).

Among the other contenders, Adam Bierman had garnered 3,004 votes (11.11 percent), Paul Johnson 2,864 votes (10.59 percent), Karen Lemon 2,639 (9.76 percent), Bill Hare 2,368 (8.75 percent), and Hendricks Davis 1,445 (5.34 percent). Each voter designated three choices  for the three open BOE seats.

Also on the ballot, Mark Freda was the winner in the uncontested race for Princeton mayor, and incumbents David Cohen and Leticia Fraga were unopposed in regaining their seats in the election for Princeton Council. more

By Anne Levin

As local businesses and restaurants struggle to stay afloat during the ongoing pandemic, plans for a downtown holiday village, from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas, are taking shape.

A joint effort of the municipality, the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA), the Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton University, and other collaborators, the plan will include four vendor chalets offering crafts, artworks, and gift wrapping. Two will be in Hinds Plaza, one in Tiger Park, and another in front of the Princeton Garden Theatre pending approval from the University.

The town’s Shade Tree Commission is purchasing 35 six-foot evergreen trees to be placed along Nassau and Witherspoon streets and strung with lights. The trees will be in burlap balls and planted in public parks after the holidays. The town has allotted $10,000 for the plan, which includes buying the four chalets.

“We want to activate the streets,” said Princeton Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros, who serves on the Economic Development Committee and is liaison to the PMA. “This will help generate business for local retailers and restaurants, by keeping people outdoors.”

When the idea was first broached at a virtual meeting of the PMA last month, some retailers expressed concerns that the vendors would take business away from them.

“I have assured everybody that we would not put in anything competitive to what they are selling,” Lambros said. “These vendors would have unique handcrafted items, and a lot of original art. McCarter Theatre will come up with something creative. It won’t compete.“ more