January 8, 2020

By Anne Levin

Some New Jersey residents fighting for the elimination of single-use plastic bags got a New Year’s Day gift last week when it was announced that 10 towns and one county had banned the bags, plastic straws, and expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) from further use. But Princeton was not among them.

Local ordinances have outlawed the products in Asbury Park, Bayonne, Camden County, Garfield, Glen Rock, Lamberton, Paramus, Ridgewood, Saddle Brook, Somers Point, and South Orange. But shoppers in Princeton can still use them — at least for now.

Molly Jones, executive director of Sustainable Princeton, said that while Princeton hasn’t passed an ordinance, eliminating single-use plastic bags, straws, and polystyrene is still very much the focus of local efforts. Jones and colleagues are hoping that a bill geared toward that issue, pending in the New Jersey Senate, will pass soon. And the town doesn’t want to interfere with that process.

“We’ve been getting feedback that there is great hope that it’s going to pass during the lame duck session,” Jones said. “So the feeling is, let’s not put a ton of effort when it could soon be passed at the state level. That’s why less energy has been devoted to this lately, because of this hope that it’s going to pass.” more

By Anne Levin

Santino Fontana

When the musical comedy The Big Time is staged at McCarter Theatre on Friday, January 31, there will be no sets, costumes, or choreography. But the lineup of performers seated on stools at this concert reading of the play, accompanied by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO), represents some of Broadway’s busiest and best-loved actors.

The second installment of the orchestra’s PRINCETON POPS series, The Big Time is a collaboration of the PSO and McCarter Theatre Center. The show, written by Douglas Carter Beane, takes place during the Cold War. Russian spies take over an ocean liner holding all of NATO, and some lounge singers on board save the day by turning the communists on to singing, dancing, and comedy.

The cast includes Tony Award-winners Santino Fontana and Debbie Gravitte, along with Laura Osnes, Jackie Hoffman, Michael McCormick, Bradley Dean, and Raymond Bokhour — names familiar to those who frequent Broadway musicals.

“If I had one of these people, I would be grateful,” said Douglas J. Cohen, composer and lyricist for the show. “To have all of these amazing people, so varied and with so many things in their arsenals, is incredible. They are Broadway luminaries, and they are phenomenal. These are people who can make you laugh and break your heart.” more

TRIPLE THREAT: Violinist Isabelle Faust, cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, and pianist Alexander Melnikov play Beethoven piano trios in the first program of Princeton University Concerts at Richardson Auditorium.

Princeton University Concerts resumes its 2019-2020 season programming on Thursday, February 6, 8 p.m. at Richardson Auditorium, with musicians Isabelle Faust, violin; Jean-Guihen Queyras, cello; and Alexander Melnikov, piano, in a program of Ludwig van Beethoven’s piano trios, in celebration of the composer’s 250th birthday.

The three musicians have each appeared on Princeton University Concerts’ stage separately, quickly becoming fan favorites. Melnikov made a debut in 2016 playing Shostakovich’s complete Preludes & Fugues, returning again last season alongside pianist Andreas Staier. Faust performed a J.S. Bach’s complete violin sonatas and partitas in 2016, surrounded by candlelight, at the Princeton University Chapel. And Queyras made his Princeton debut as part of the Arcanto Quartet in the fall of 2015. more

LEARN BALINESE DANCE: Princeton Ballet School is now offering lessons in Balinese dance at its studio in Princeton Shopping Center, 301 North Harrison Street. Classes are held January 8-29, in four sessions.

Princeton Ballet School, the official school of American Repertory Ballet, is offering Balinese dance classes through its Dances of the World program. The class will be taught from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. on Wednesdays in four sessions, January 8-29, at the school’s Princeton Studio located at 301 North Harrison Street. more

“WHITE HORSE FARM”: Recent paintings by Mark Allen Natale are on view through February 4 at Small World Coffee, 254 Nassau Street. In this exhibit, Natale pays homage to nostalgia, with oil paintings of landscapes and objects representing times passed.

An exhibition of recent paintings by Mark Allen Natale is now on view at Small World Coffee, 254 Nassau Street. The show features detailed oil paintings of landscapes and objects that represent times passed. An opening reception is January 11, and the exhibition runs through February 4.

In this exhibition, Natale pays homage to nostalgia. Old buildings, roadside signage, and objects that have a direct connection to feel-good memories are represented in meticulous detail. The subjects of Natale’s paintings are in stark contrast with today’s fast paced, impermanent, technology-driven world, where the flick of a thumb swipes away images just as quickly as they appeared.

Instead, Natale’s compositions show things that stood the test of time and were built by hand using traditional tools and skills. His images are powerful; yet embody a quiet solitude. more

“URBAN 10”: Art by Felicia V. Bland, along with works by Habiyb Ali, Ronah Harris, and Tamara Torres, will be featured in “Stories of Diversity,” on view at the Considine Gallery at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart January 10 through February 27. An opening reception is Friday, January 10, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart has announced that its winter gallery exhibition in Stuart’s Considine Gallery will feature art by Felicia V. Bland, Habiyb Ali, Ronah Harris, and Tamara Torres. The show, “Stories of Diversity,” shares views of life through artistic perspectives in the United States. It will be on view January 10 through February 27. more

“ROSEDALE LAKE AT MERCER MEADOWS”: This photograph by Susan Jacobsen is featured in “Trailscapes: The Beauty of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail,” on view at the Mercer County Library Branch Headquarters in Lawrenceville through the end of January. An artist reception is Sunday, January 12, 2 to 4 p.m.

The beauty and tranquility of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT) as captured by Ewing Township photographer Susan Jacobsen is now on display at the Mercer County Library Branch Headquarters throughout January. An artist reception will be held on Sunday, January 12 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the library, located at 2751 Brunswick Pike, Lawrenceville.

“The photographs capture the LHT in different seasons and at different times of day. I love the play of light on the trail,” said Jacobsen. “I want others to see the trail in its many moods and to enjoy it as much as I do.” more

CHOKED UP: Princeton University men’s basketball player Ryan Schwieger fights through a choke hold on the way to the basket in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday at the Palestra in Philadelphia, junior guard Schwieger poured in a career-high 27 points to help Princeton defeat Penn 78-64 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. The Tigers, now 5-8 overall and 1-0 Ivy, have a rematch with the Quakers on January 10 at Jadwin Gym. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Ryan Schwieger had scored his only previous two career points against Penn for the Princeton University men’s basketball team, hitting a pair of free throws two years ago.

One year after sitting on the bench through a pair of Princeton victories last winter over their archrival, the versatile junior guard exploded for a new career-high of 27 points to lead the Tigers to a 78-64 win over Penn last Saturday in the Ivy League opener for both teams at the Palestra in Philadelphia.

“He likes to remind me he did not play one minute last year,” said Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson. “You can see that we’ve missed him.”

Schwieger made 10-of-16 field goals, including a 3-pointer just before halftime to forge a 39-27 lead in a game in which the Tigers never trailed. He hit on 6-of-7 free throws as well and added three rebounds to a 40-35 rebounding edge for Princeton. more

IN A RUSH: Princeton University women’s hockey player Maggie Connors races up the ice in recent action. Last Saturday, sophomore forward Connors tallied three goals and an assist to help No. 7 Princeton defeat Saint Anselm 10-0. The Tigers, now 13-4 overall, resume ECAC Hockey action this weekend by playing at Dartmouth on January 10 and at Harvard on January 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the Princeton University women’s hockey team hosted Saint Anselm last Saturday afternoon, Maggie Connors turned the contest into her personal showcase.

Princeton sophomore forward Connors assisted on a goal by classmate Sarah Fillier 2:03 into the game and then scored three straight goals for a natural hat trick as the Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead by the end of the first period.

With two of her goals coming on assists by Fillier,  Connors credited their partnership with sparking her outburst.

“Playing with a player like Sarah Fillier makes it pretty easy, it is just being in the right spots at the right time,” said Connors, reflecting on her third career hat trick. more

KEEN INSIGHT: Princeton University men’s hockey player Luke Keenan, right, battles a foe in recent action. Last Saturday, junior forward Keenan contributed a goal and an assist as Princeton skated to a 3-3 tie with Harvard. The Tigers, now 2-11-4 overall and 0-7-3 ECAC Hockey, play at Clarkson on January 10 and at St. Lawrence on January 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Luke Keenan realized that he needed to step up this winter in his junior season for the Princeton University men’s hockey team.

“I have been given more responsibility this year, a lot of other guys have too,” said forward Keenan. “We lost a lot of scoring from last year.”

Last Saturday evening against visiting Harvard, Keenan handled that responsibility well, tallying an assist and a goal as Princeton overcame a 2-0 first period deficit in skating to a 3-3 tie with the Crimson.

“We did come out a little flat tonight; I think we turned it around quickly,” said Keenan, reflecting on the tie which moved Princeton to 2-11-4 overall and 0-7-3 ECAC Hockey. more

BIG MAN: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Birch Gorman brings the puck up the ice in a game last season. Last Sunday, junior defenseman Gorman scored a goal to help PDS skate to a 3-3 tie with the Hoosac School (N.Y.) in the consolation game of its Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational. The Panthers, now 3-5-1, play at the Hill School (Pa.) on January 8 before hosting Delbarton on January 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Having gone 0-3 at the Barber Tournament in New England to end December and then falling 8-0 to the Albany Academy (N.Y.) on Saturday to open its Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational, the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team went back to basics as it faced the Hoosac School (N.Y.) in a consolation contest.

“Today we just focused on the simple things, just getting pucks deep and getting pucks on net,” said PDS junior defenseman Birch Gorman, reflecting on the Sunday matchup.

After Hoosac jumped out to a 1-0 lead with 6:15 left in the first period, PDS got a puck in the back of the net less than four minutes later as senior David Sherman converted a feed from sophomore Michael Sullo for a power play goal. more

By Bill Alden

Brynne Hennessy has leapt up the ranks for the Princeton High girls’ basketball program this winter.

After having played for the junior varsity squad last year as a sophomore, Hennessy was not only promoted to the varsity this season, she is serving as a tri-captain for the team.

“I love playing on varsity; everyday, I look forward to going to practice,” said Hennessy.

“I love all of the girls, it is so much fun being captain with Molly [Brown] and Ashley [Tumpowski]. We are really starting to get into the groove of working as a team; that is what we really need to do.”

Last Friday evening against visiting Ewing, PHS found its groove early, jumping out to a 7-0 lead.

“Coming back from two losses, we really wanted to win today,” said Hennessy. “Being up 7-0 was awesome.” more

ABBIE ROAD: Hun School girls’ swimmer Abbie Danko shows her form in a meet last year. Senior star Danko is leading the way for Hun as it looks to build on the success it experienced last winter when it won the program’s first-ever team title at the Mercer County Championships. Hun, which defeated the George School (Pa.) 89-78 on December 10 in its first meet of the season, returns to action on January 8 with a meet at the Blair Academy. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Flying under the radar, the Hun School girls’ swimming squad pulled off a major surprise last winter as it won the program’s first-ever team title at the Mercer County Championships.

Reflecting on the 2019-20 campaign, Hun head coach Joan Nuse realizes it will be tough to match that success.

“It was awesome last year; it is going to be a challenge to live up to that,” said Nuse, noting that a talented group of six swimmers scored all the points for Hun at the county meet. “We will do the best we can.”

Starting the season by defeating George School (Pa.) 89-78 on December 10, Hun showed that it can still be formidable.  more

By Bill Alden

Although the Hun School boys’ swimming team opened the season by losing 88-76 to the George School (Pa.) last month, the program is maintaining its upward trend.

“It was a pretty close meet, they are continuing to improve,” said Hun head coach Joan Nuse reflecting on the December 10 competition.

“We have kids in the first meet of the year who were swimming times that were better than their time in the previous year. We have some freshmen who came in and made an impact right off the bat. That is great and really sets things up for the season.”

Nuse is looking for a great season from senior standout Josh Nguyen. “Josh came in the first meet and goes out and won both the 50 and the 100 free,” said Nuse.

“He bettered his time from his best time ever right off the bat and he is not a club swimmer. That is just him putting in the effort in practice. He is one of our captains and he has been doing a great job of helping out everyone. He is definitely a sprinter but he can do backstroke.” more

STEADY EDDIE: Hun School boys’ hockey player Eddie Evaldi heads up ice in a recent game. Last week, senior star Evaldi helped Hun reach the semifinals of the Purple Puck National Capital Hockey Tournament outside of Washington, D.C. Hun, now 3-5-1, hosts Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) on January 8 and Seton Hall Prep on January 10 at the Ice Land Skating Center. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For the Hun School boys’ hockey team, its trip to compete in the Purple Puck National Capital Hockey Tournament outside of Washington, D.C. has proven to be an annual highlight for the program.

Having won the Purple Puck competition in 2018, Hun was primed to defend its title as it headed down to D.C. in late December.

“That trip is always fun for us. People like it for different reasons,” said Hun head coach Ian McNally.

“If you are returning, you like it because you look forward to it. We have a lot of new guys this year so it was new again for them.”

While Hun failed to make it two straight crowns as it lost 5-3 to Loyola Academy (Ill.) in the semis on December 30, McNally believes his team will benefit from the experience. more

January 1, 2020

The Princeton Battlefield Society presented its annual “Experience the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777” on Sunday morning, commemorating one of the most pivotal battles of the Revolutionary War. The event included the re-creation of the battle at Battlefield State Park by re-enactors representing the Continental and British units involved. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

With overcrowding and increasing enrollments throughout the district, the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) have been looking for room to grow and paying attention to the changing plans of their neighbor just across Walnut Lane, the Westminster Choir College campus of Rider University.

When Rider University recently announced plans to close the Westminster site in Princeton and relocate the school to its Lawrenceville campus, protests ensued, and two pending lawsuit may prevent the University from moving the school.

At last month’s PPS Board of Education (BOE) meeting, Superintendent Steve Cochrane cited growth projections of several hundred students for the district over the next five years and emphasized the challenges of managing and finding space for that growth.

“We need to plan for that growth in ways that consider numerous factors, including facility and play area expansion, land use throughout the community, sustainability, potential redistricting, educational vision, and, of course, affordability and diversity,” he said.

Speaking specifically about the possible availability of the property currently occupied by Westminster, Cochrane continued, “As stewards for the Princeton Public Schools, we have a responsibility to be prepared for that possibility and for the implications of having potentially 23 acres of land become available immediately next door to our middle school and high school. Consequently, we have been doing our homework.” more

VEBLEN HOUSE: Friends of Herrontown Woods (FOHW) plans to lease from the town of Princeton the house and surrounding properties where the mathematician Oscar Veblen lived, took walks in the woods, and met with Albert Einstein. FOHW looks forward to ongoing stewardship of the land and restoration work on the buildings. (Photo courtesy of Friends of Herrontown Woods)

By Donald Gilpin

Friends of Herrontown Woods (FOHW), a nonprofit dedicated to restoring the trails, history, and flora of Herrontown Woods and to honoring the legacy of Oswald and Elizabeth Veblen, is looking forward to early 2020 ratification of a lease agreement negotiated with the town of Princeton.

Since 2013 FOHW has been caring for about 220 acres of public land at Herrontown Woods and Autumn Hill Reservation, the first dedicated nature preserve in Princeton “and apparently in Mercer County as well,” according to FOHW president Steve Hiltner, who is a botanist and naturalist.

With a formal lease, Hiltner said, FOHW will be able to apply for grants, broaden its contributor base, and hire workers to complete needed repairs on the Veblen House and Cottage. “The cottage is envisioned as a nature center,” Hiltner said. “That’s where Einstein and Veblen would have hung out on a Saturday afternoon.” Other structures on the property include a barn, a corn crib, and a garage.

Hiltner continued, “The house and cottage, in addition to being the only infrastructure available to serve open space in eastern Princeton, provide a broad profile of cultural history from the early 20th century, from the hardscrabble farmers who built the cottage to the economic and intellectual elite of the Whiton-Stuarts and the Veblens. Tying it all together is Oswald Veblen, the founding faculty member at the Institute for Advanced Study, who loved both intellectual endeavors and outdoor work.” more

By Anne Levin

Rabbi Adam S. Feldman

The sudden death of Rabbi Adam S. Feldman, who has been senior rabbi of The Jewish Center for nearly 15 years, shocked not only members of the congregation, but people from throughout the local community.

Feldman, 55, suffered a heart attack on December 24 while rappelling down a mountain in Hawaii, where he was vacationing with his family. Funeral services were held Sunday at The Jewish Center, and observance of shiva is continuing through Friday, January 3 at the Feldmans’ home and at the synagogue.

“He was a very compassionate individual. If there is one word to describe him, that’s it,” said Randy Brett, president of The Jewish Center. “His pastoral skills were excellent. Since I’ve been president of the congregation, people communicate with me about whether they’re happy with the rabbi or not. And I have heard, repeatedly, how well he has dealt with families going through tragedies. I have received many letters from people about how warm and compassionate he was. I think that, universally, people would say that about him.”

Princeton Police Chief Nicholas Sutter said Feldman was a trusted friend of the department and a personal friend to him. The rabbi was a founding member of the Princeton Police Department’s Chaplain Program. more

PERFORMING AT THE WHITE HOUSE: Members of two local youth choirs, Vox Amicus and the Trenton Children’s Chorus, joined forces to sing for groups touring the residence in Washington, D.C. last month.

By Anne Levin

For the young singers who make up the Vox Amicus choir and the Trenton Children’s Chorus, performing at the White House is nothing new. Both ensembles have visited the presidential residence during past winter holiday seasons. But the trip the two groups made to Washington on December 20 marked the first time they had sung at the White House together.

Vox Amicus (which translates to “choir of friends”) is made up of high school students who, when younger, were members of a choir at Westminster Conservatory. The group from Trenton Children’s Chorus, also composed of high school students, is one of several choirs at the Trenton-based nonprofit.

“Going to the White House is always a wonderful experience, and this time with both choirs was very special,” said Patricia Thel, who conducts both groups. “The children, who are walked through the building, get to see all of the portraits of the presidents over the years, and there is a lot of history.” more

By Donald Gilpin

Jennifer Podolsky

Appointed last month as the new executive director of the Princeton Public Library (PPL), Jennifer Podolsky will begin her duties in mid-February.

Currently executive director of the East Brunswick Public Library (EBPL), Podolsky is excited to be taking on the challenges of running the PPL, which Wikipedia cites as the most visited municipal public library in New Jersey, with the PPL Annual Report noting more than 500,000 print and digital materials checked out in 2019, more than 57,000 people attending library programs, and more than 660,000 visitors last year.

“Princeton Public Library is a vibrant, respected library that is vitally important to the community it serves,” Podolsky wrote in an email. “The idea of being part of a team that elicits such devotion and esteem, both locally and throughout the state, was an exciting prospect for me. I knew of Princeton’s reputation and I was eager to help shape its future.”

Podolsky expressed her interest in embarking on a strategic planning process for the library. “I will be looking to assess our role as a trusted source of information in the community, examining the accessibility of our services both within and outside the library building, and looking at removing any barriers to utilizing those services,” she said. I am eager to get the community’s input about our programs and services as I develop my vision.” more

Hun Alumna Crowned Miss America 2020

Camille Schrier, a 2013 Hun School of Princeton graduate, defeated 50 other competitors and was crowned Miss America 2020 last month.

Schrier, a biochemist who is studying for a doctor of pharmacy degree at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy, won over the judges with a science experiment in the talent portion of the competition. She received a $50,000 scholarship and has already begun her role as Miss America, traveling around the country to promote her social impact initiative focusing on medication safety and abuse prevention.

Dressed a in lab coat and pink-rimmed protective goggles, Schrier performed her experiment demonstrating the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide onstage at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

The experiment, “complete with colorful foam spouting from beakers,” according to a Hun School press release, “is significant because it marks a sea change for the Miss America competition and is the first time a contestant has won for a science experiment.” more

By Anne Levin

When the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County (JFCS) first held a pop-up food pantry at Better Beginnings, a preschool in Hightstown, they were told to expect about 35 families to show up. But three days before the event, that estimate was changed.

“They called and said that 74 families had signed up,” said Michelle Napell, executive director of JFCS. “A lot of people don’t realize that this is a crisis. They feel, ‘We live in New Jersey. We live in Mercer County. And people aren’t hungry here.’ Which couldn’t be further from the truth.”

According to the JFCS, nearly 40,000 people in Mercer County lack consistent access to enough food to lead healthy, active lives, and often don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Responding to the statistics, the organization is taking its existing, brick-and-mortar “healthy choice pantry” on the road. Starting at the end of this month, the pantry offering fresh and frozen produce, meats, dairy products, and standard shelf staples will be traveling to distribution stops to be announced.

“We’ve been speaking to a lot of our community partners to establish where we’ll start the initial voyages,” said Napell. “We’re having a soft launch, which we can’t announce yet. But we do know that Better Beginnings is our first stop.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

Only connect…
— E.M. Forster (1879-1970)

In the “only connect” spirit of my approach to these weekly columns, this being the first day of an election year when the stakes are historically high, I’m launching my retrospective sampling of the 2010s with a September 21, 2011, piece on Ginger Rogers (“Pick Yourself Up for a White House Screening”) headed with a quote from then-President Obama’s Inaugural Address: “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

Given the liberties already taken (did I mention that the same column has Ginger Rogers quoting Dickens?), the stage is set for a 21st-century update of the familiar Depression era scenario wherein someone in distress walks into a movie theater looking for a respite from reality and walks out an hour and a half later ready to face the challenges and fight the good fight:

“In 1936, the year Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were dancing across the screens of the nation in Swing Time, the unemployment rate was 16.9 percent. In 2011, when the country is once again struggling economically, the rate’s 9.1, and if anyone is in need of a respite, it’s our beleaguered president. So let’s imagine that after exhausting himself trying to get us out of the hole we’re in, the commander in chief sets about lifting his own morale with a White House showing of Swing Time. At first, he’s yawning, having been awake half the night trying to devise a way to dance his jobs bill around a ‘loyal opposition’ as ruthless as the crippled banker Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life. He’s still yawning even as Fred Astaire does pratfalls pretending to be a hapless neophyte dancer goofing a lesson from the pretty dancing teacher played by Ginger. But as soon as she starts singing, the prez comes to attention. She’s telling him to pick himself up, dust himself off, and start all over again. It’s his Inauguration Day pep talk, same words, same idea. How cool is that! All this time he’d thought the line had come to him out of nowhere, and here’s plucky Ginger delivering the same message back when FDR was dealing with the same issues.” more

CRUCIAL VERDICT: Nicholas Pecht (Juror No. 7), Bill Kamps (Juror No. 8), and William Walters (Juror No. 9) in the upcoming production of “12 Angry Men,” January 17-26 at Kelsey Theatre.

The life of a young man hangs in the balance and rests in the hands of 12 jurors in a seemingly open-and-shut case. But, can they set aside personal prejudices and preconceptions in the name of justice? That is the question for 12 Angry Men, presented by Forté Dramatic Productions January 17-26 at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) Kelsey Theatre.

Dates and show times are Friday, January 17 and 24 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, January 18 and 25 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, January 19 and 26 at 2 p.m. Kelsey Theatre is located on MCCC’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. The community is invited to an opening night reception with the cast and crew following the January 17 performance. more