March 24, 2021

GETTING A GRIP: Princeton High wrestler Martin Brophy, right, controls a foe in recent action at 120 pounds. Sophomore Brophy got off to a 3-0 start as PHS went 2-1 last week in its first action of the 2021 season. The Tigers wrestle at Steinert on March 25 and at Hopewell Valley on March 30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

March 1 wasn’t a holiday, but it felt like one for the Princeton High wrestling team as it got together for the first practice of the 2021 season.

“To tell you the truth, it was like Christmas morning, the level of excitement was there,” said PHS head coach Jess Monzo, reflecting on the mood in the room.

“The kids were happy to be back, wrestling gave them that sense of normalcy. Some of them were still going to their club and working out on their own but being back brought that family unity they were missing.”

There is unity of purpose to go along with that family feeling after a promising 2019-20 campaign that saw the Tigers finish fourth in the Mercer County Tournament with two champions and a runner-up. PHS ended up qualifying three wrestlers for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) state championships in Atlantic City with James Romaine making the boys’ tourney at 152 pounds and Chloe Ayres finishing first at 107 in the girls’ competition and Ava Rose taking second at 100.

“The kids were coming out of their shell last year and seeing success helped them build off of it,” said Monzo.

“When they came in the room this year, they were a year older, they were a year more mature. They get it, especially my young guys, my freshmen who became sophomores. They see that we can do this, we can hang so the young guys are really stepping up.”

A trio of seniors, Ayres, Romaine, and Chris Sockler, are setting a good example for the program’s younger wrestlers.

“They have been tremendous leaders in the room,” said Monzo. “The young guys pick up on it and follow along so that has been tremendous. Some of them like to lead by talking and being vocal, others lead by setting the pace in the room and working hard. It is really starting to show.” more

WILLPOWER: Hun School girls’ basketball player Kennedy Wilburn, left, drives to the basket in a game this winter. Post-graduate forward Wilburn provided an inside presence that helped the Raiders win their last four games on the way to a 5-3 final record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Battling to the final moments of the 2021 campaign, the Hun School girls’ basketball team rallied in the fourth quarter to pull out a 47-44 win over rival Peddie in its season finale.

Trailing the Falcons 38-36 entering the final eight minutes of the March 2 contest, the Raiders tightened up their defense and rode the perimeter shooting of senior Kennedy Jardine and some clutch free throws from senior Izzy Lalo to earn the victory.

Hun head coach Bill Holup was not surprised to see his squad display resilience to the final buzzer.

“I give the girls all of the credit in the world for following through this year,” said Holup, whose players dealt with strict COVID restrictions, practicing and playing with masks.

“What I said to the girls after the game is that everything they went through this year should definitely prepare them for any adversity that they face in the future going forth. What they were able to accomplish and get through to stay committed,  work hard, and stay dedicated is really tremendous.”

The Raiders saved their best for last in edging Peddie. “The girls played a great game,” said Holup, whose team overcame an injury to junior star Kiera Hahn early in the game that sidelined her for the rest of the contest. “It was good to win a game against a MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) team as well.” more

March 17, 2021

THE FOUNDERS: Conceived by Dan D. Coyle, left, and Donald C. Stuart in 1946, the original Town Topics looked like an oversized train timetable. Coyle and Stuart wrote all the copy and sold all the ads in the paper’s early years.    

By Donald Gilpin

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” to borrow a line from the U.S. Postal Service’s unofficial motto, and let’s add, “nor hurricane nor snow nor pandemic.” It’s the 75th anniversary of Town Topics —3,900 weeks, 3,900 issues, delivered to the residents of Princeton and the surrounding area.

The first edition of Town Topics, on March 15, 1946, looked like an oversized train timetable, a piece of folded 10” by 3.2” paper printed on both sides. Conceived and published by Donald C. Stuart and his brother-in-law Dan D. Coyle, Town Topics was distributed for free to homes and businesses throughout the town.

J. Robert “Bob” Hillier, a Town Topics shareholder and publisher of Princeton Magazine, recalls the early days of Town Topics when he was a young boy. “Having grown up in town I can look back to 1946 when Town Topics was founded by a couple of Princeton University public relations people. That was the year my mother started her business, the Flower Basket, right next to the A&P Market, which is where CVS is today.”

He continued, “Each week the cover was entirely dedicated to a ‘Man of the Week’ or ‘Woman of the Week.’ My mother was an advertiser, and, over the years, each of my parents was named ‘Person of the Week,’ which is what I believe the heading became.”

There was no Town Topics office at first. The editorial and advertising work were carried around in Coyle and Stuart’s briefcases until 1950, when the rapidly growing paper, at that point on actual newsprint and full tabloid size, moved into office space at 4 Mercer Street, where it remained until 2007. more

By Jean Stratton

Newspapers tell the stories of our time. They are an essential force in providing information for citizens to make decisions and navigate the changes in their world.

The advent of the internet and the digital age, with constantly advancing technology, has challenged newspapers in numerous ways. Unfortunately, many print papers have been lost, unable to compete in this new world.

Some, though, through the efforts of hardworking staffs, wise leadership decisions, and the continuing support of
readers and loyal advertisers — and good luck — have prevailed.

Town Topics is proud to celebrate its 75th anniversary, and finds itself in a world far different from that of 1946, when it began reporting the news.

Family-Owned

Step back for a moment into that world, only one year after the end of World War II. Bricks and mortar establishments were thriving, as people were delighted to “go shopping” after the rationing and shortages of the war years.

Princeton was still a relatively small town. The streetscape was filled with small independent shops and businesses, many of them family-owned and operated. Small markets and grocery stores, gift shops, stationary and toy stores, luggage and tobacconists, men’s and women’s emporiums, bookstores galore, and sheet music businesses were all available; and small hardware shops and pharmacies prospered before the arrival of the big chains.

Harry Truman was president, the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn, Princeton University undergraduates were all male, and the PC, DVD, CD, smartphone, etc. were barely a glimpse on the high tech horizon.

Everyone read books and magazines, including Life, Look, the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, also movie magazines, and the occasional tabloid such as True Confessions and Confidential.

For those interested in serious national and international news, one could choose from seven New York City dailies, as well as all the Philadelphia papers. News was also available on the radio, but TV had yet to appear, and in the evenings, people listened to their favorite shows.

Visitors to town not only stayed at the historic Nassau Inn but at the much favored Princeton Inn (now a University dormitory). Green space was still abundant in Princeton and nearby areas: development, gridlock, and the Route 1 corridor were all in the future. Traffic tie-ups were a novelty — except on football Saturdays, Reunion weekends, and graduation. more

SURVIVING A DIFFICULT YEAR: The Princeton Festival, shown here in a 2016 production of the opera “Peter Grimes,” is among the local arts organizations that has weathered the pandemic.

By Anne Levin

According to data released this week by the organization Americans for the Arts, COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on arts and culture in the United States. Seasons have been canceled. Actors, dancers, musicians, and the staff who support them are out of work.

But a survey of several local performing arts organizations reveals that while none have escaped unscathed, all are still in business. Once unfamiliar with reaching audiences via technology, they have come to appreciate its ability to dramatically extend their reach.

While these groups acknowledge their struggles, they are cautiously optimistic about the future. They have partnered with each other — American Repertory Ballet with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Princeton University Concerts with McCarter Theatre Center, and so on.

“We all still know that going forward, there is more that we don’t know than we do know,” said Marc Uys, executive director of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, which has had no live performances since the pandemic began. “We’ve had to adapt in a big way to keep our various constituents engaged, meaning our musicians and our audience. But this has been a huge opportunity to expand our reach.”

The orchestra’s recent “Buskaid” programs reached an international audience of about 5,000, which would have been unheard of in pre-pandemic times. The same is true for The Princeton Festival, which canceled in-person performances but attracted some 4,000 viewers online via its “Virtually Yours” streams. more

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton Health Department announced on Monday, March 16, just six new positive COVID cases in the previous seven days, and 11 in the previous 14 days. With New Jersey vaccination numbers rising rapidly, Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser acknowledged grounds for optimism.

“I think we are getting there based on case counts and the increasing distribution of vaccine,” he wrote in a March 16 email. “The next 2-3 weeks are going to be pivotal, as much more vaccine is expected to be delivered to New Jersey and Mercer County.”

He emphasized the need for both haste and caution, as the COVID spread remains unpredictable. “The variants that have become increasingly more impactful in Europe will be a larger concern here in the United States if a larger percentage of the population isn’t vaccinated in a short period of time,” he warned. “Therefore, as more vaccine is delivered, more clinic locations will be necessary to increase total throughput.”

Grosser looked towards the summer and beyond and emphasizing the importance of other vaccinations in addition to the COVID-19 doses that have been in the spotlight.  “Everyone is looking forward to a more normal summer and fall, but as we have learned throughout the pandemic, uncertainties will always exist. We know the vaccine is helping this reduction in new cases. As long as vaccine distribution stays at the forefront of our priorities, restrictions will be slowly drawn back.”

Aside from the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Grosser cites “a drastic decline in other vaccinations provided to children nationwide over the last 12 months.” The health department is urging parents to ensure that their children are up to date with all of their other necessary vaccinations.

“Our office is restarting our immunization audits of both private and public schools,” Grosser said. “Our vaccine program, in partnership with Capital Health, provides free health services to under- and uninsured children in Princeton.”

The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) reported on Tuesday, March 16, that the state has administered more than 3 million vaccine doses, with a total of 3,058,178, including more than two million first doses and more than one million second doses. “In just two weeks, we’ve delivered another one million shots into arms,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy wrote Monday on Twitter. “We’re vaccinating New Jersey as quickly and equitably as possible.” more

By Anne Levin

Princeton and Rider universities have announced plans to substantially expand on-campus activities for fall 2021.

All undergraduate and graduate students will be expected for in-person instruction at Princeton next semester, and faculty should assume a return to in-person classes on campus for the coming academic year, the University said in a March 11 letter to the campus community.

A letter sent by Rider to students, faculty, and staff this week said extensive in-person teaching, residential housing, and on-campus activities are planned, starting in the fall. The goal is a return to normal operations.

But both schools caution that it is impossible to know just how extensive the resumption of pre-pandemic life will be. 

“Returning to in-person operations in all of our activities will be a complex process guided by public health experts, state regulations, and logistical realities,” the letter to the Princeton University community reads. “Some restrictions will undoubtedly extend into the next academic year.”

The letter continues, “We want students, faculty, researchers, and staff back on campus so that teaching and learning can return to our classrooms studios, and labs. We also want students engaging in as full a residential lie program as possible, taking part in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities that allow them to learn and building community.”

Earlier this year, Princeton welcomed back all undergraduates who wanted to return to campus. The students who chose to come back had to sign a strict social contract outlining rules for social distancing and other pandemic-related measures. Not all of them complied.

The letter from Rider, written by President Gregory G. Dell’Omo and Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs DonnaJean Fredeen, says plans for the fall semester depend on how state and federal regulations evolve. But they do not anticipate academic courses being offered in hybrid or remote formats. more

By Anne Levin

A $10,000 grant to the municipality of Princeton, in partnership with Princeton Public Schools, is geared toward developing a financially viable plan to transition away from the practice of landscaping with fossil-fueled equipment to reduce pollution and create a healthier work environment for landscape staff.

The grant allows grounds management workers to become familiar with battery-powered landscaping equipment, in turn creating more sustainable practices. It comes from Sustainable Jersey, via the Gardinier Environmental Fund.

The funding is designed to work in tandem with the $55,000 Partners for Places grant, which was awarded to Princeton last November to transition local landscapers to more sustainable management practices.

Switching to more sustainable methods is a process with a variety of components, and takes time. “It’s like cars,” said Molly Jones, executive director of Sustainable Princeton. “We’re all used to fossil-fueled vehicles. Electric is a different experience that just takes time to get used to. We’re trying, with this grant, to open the mindset.” more

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton University’s Whig-Cliosophic Society (Whig-Clio), a student political, literary, and debate society, has voted to rescind its James Madison Award for Public Service from Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a 1992 Princeton University graduate.

Cruz, who received the award in 2016, has been under fire recently for his support for  allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election and his leadership of the Republicans’ efforts to oppose certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, actions which Cruz’s critics believe encouraged the January 6 attacks on the Capitol. 

Whig-Clio’s motion to rescind the award, given to individuals who have “taken up the arduous but fair cause of devoting their lives to the betterment of society,” passed by a vote of 37-32 after a 90-minute series of speeches for and against rescinding the award, according to The Daily Princetonian student newspaper.

Whig-Clio President Julia Chaffers, a junior, declined to comment on the decision. The Whig-Clio trustees will take up the result and decide whether to officially revoke Cruz’ award.   

Cruz’s Senate office did not respond to a request for comment on the Whig-Clio vote. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

—Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Reading that quote from a 1930 letter from Einstein to his son Eduard, I had an absurd early-20th-century vision of myself delivering Town Topics on a bicycle. Even more absurd, my route comprised the two streets we lived on during our first decade in Princeton. In reality, this would mean riding a bicycle across town from Patton Avenue to Hodge Road. Every Wednesday. While there have been times when I needed to do the honors for our current street, that was from a car. What makes the old-fashioned paper route-on-a-bicycle idea truly ridiculous is that I never met a bike I liked, and vice-versa. I honestly never really wanted or needed one, and was rarely comfortable my few times in the saddle.

Anyway, here we go. Patton Avenue, our first Princeton street, was named for the 13th president of the University, Frances Landey Patton (1843-1932), who during the Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1896 made it official, declaring that the College of New Jersey would “in all future time be known as Princeton University.’’

We lived on the top two floors of a half-stucco, half-shingled house built in the 1920s. The terror of even the bravest of paper boys, a gigantic Irish wolfhound named Troika occupied the first floor, along with his master, a stage technician at McCarter. At a yard sale advertised in Town Topics we got to know the couple next door, who performed as a duo called Smile. The wife gave piano lessons to Stalin’s granddaughter, but that’s another story I’ve told more than once before.

The most striking feature of our stretch of Patton Avenue were the sycamore trees whose roots turned the sidewalks into hazards for kids who ran before they looked, not to mention aged, bicycle-riding newsboys attempting to toss Wednesday’s paper onto porches and driveways without losing the all-important life-balance stated in Einstein’s theory.  more

ON THE DIGITAL STAGE: Pennsylvania Ballet, shown here in George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco,” pays tribute to founder Barbara Weisberger with its virtual spring season beginning March 25. (Photo by Alexander Iziiiaev)

Pennsylvania Ballet has announced the launch of its digital spring season, titled “Strength. Resilience. Beauty,” featuring newly filmed productions of classic ballets, world premieres, and principal solo performances. The season will pay tribute to the late Barbara Weisberger (1926-2020), who founded Pennsylvania Ballet.

The season, composed of three programs, will stream on paballet.org, March 25 through June 2.

“While we can’t perform live at the Academy of Music this season, our incredible dancers and artistic staff have swiftly adapted to create new digital works for devoted audiences – near and far – until we can safely return to the stage,” said Executive Director Shelly Power.

Artistic Director Angel Corella added, “These repertoires are some of the most physically demanding works we’ve created at Pennsylvania Ballet, and our dancers have risen to the challenge by working tirelessly to practice technique and maintain peak physical condition during this time of quarantine. This season is a celebration of our dancers’ resilience, the beauty of their artistry, and their strength of mind and body which continues to push the art form forward.” more

“PEONIES IN THE SUNROOM”: This oil painting by Christine Seo won Best of Show in the West Windsor Arts Council’s “2021 WWAC Member Show: Floral Persuasion,” now on view at westwindsorarts.org and in the gallery by appointment through May 14.

The West Windsor Arts Council now presents its “2021 WWAC Member Show: Floral Persuasion,” online at westwindsorarts.org and in the gallery by appointment through May 14. A virtual opening reception is Friday, March 19 from 7:15 to 9 p.m.

Perhaps one of the most universal and timeless subjects in the history of art, botanical themes offer a world of possibility for artists. Evidence of floral art and design dates back over 2,000 years, starting with the ancient Egyptians, and remains immensely popular today. Artists have used flowers for their symbolism in history, evocative qualities, and their ability to represent everything from decay to passion.

During this spring 2021 season of rebirth and renewal, West Windsor Arts Council invited artists to share floral-themed ideas and visions. Jurors Thomas Kelly and Megan Uhaze are commissioners from Hamilton Township Cultural and Performing Arts Advisory Commission.

The exhibition was an open call to WWAC members and featured prize winners, chosen by the jurors.

While describing the show, Kelly said, “The West Windsor Arts Council members show is a floral theme. What a heartening idea in this long winter we have been having. The submissions were full of joy and color! We had some difficult choices and were very happy to see so much quality work from the WWAC members. To see the interpretations, some distant vistas, and some close-up details, truly says that we all seem to be anxiously awaiting spring and all that it brings. Kudos to the members who have been busy working on their art during these trying times. Congratulations.” more

This painting is featured in “In Nature’s Realm: The Art of Gerard Rutgers Hardenbergh,” on view through January 9 at Morven Museum & Garden. A gallery walk and booksigning with author and Hardenbergh scholar Patricia Burke will be held on Saturday, March 20 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Registration is required at morven.org. Burke’s “Gerard Rutgers Hardenbergh: Artist and Ornothologist” will be available for purchase and signing separately in the museum shop in person or online. 

SAMSUNG CSC

“MOONLIGHT STORY”: This photo by Samuel Vovsi won first place in Friends of Princeton Open Space’s annual Give Thanks For Nature Photo Contest. Visit fopos.org to view all the contest winners.

Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS), a nonprofit devoted to preservation and stewardship of land in Princeton, has announced the winners of their annual Give Thanks For Nature Photo Contest. 

The contest is sponsored by REI in support of their annual OptOutside initiative, which encourages everyone to avoid shopping on the day after Thanksgiving (aka Black Friday) and to instead spend time outdoors enjoying nature. Eligible photos were taken in the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve from November 26, 2020 through January 31, 2021. 

New in 2020, FOPOS opened the contest up to students aged 16 and under.

“When we saw the substantial increase in families enjoying the trails in the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve in 2020, we knew we had to invite young nature enthusiasts to enter the contest,” said Fran McManus, FOPOS board member and photo contest coordinator. “To reward the winners, we purchased gift card prizes from the bent spoon, JaZams and LiLLiPiES – a win-win for kids and local businesses.”

To view contest winners and learn more about Friends of Princeton Open Space, please visit fopos.org

LAX BROS: Phillip Robertson, right, stands at attention alongside his younger brother, Joe, before the start of Duke University men’s lacrosse game earlier this season. Former Princeton star Robertson is currently playing for Duke lax as a grad student on a fifth year of eligibility resulting from the cancellation of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attackman Robertson has tallied five goals and two assists to help No. 2 Duke get off to an 8-0 start. (Photo provided by Duke’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

Phillip Robertson was part of something special last year with the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team.

Starring as a senior attackman, Robertson helped the Tigers get off to a 5-0 start and rise to No. 3 in the national rankings.

“We had a great senior class, we were extremely close,” said Robertson.

“As summer went on and going into the start of last year, we really tried as a group to buy in. We wanted to change things around. We had an extremely close-knit team our freshman year and we wanted to get that same kind of feel back.”

Just as Princeton was feeling like it could do some really special things in 2020, the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I remember going into the locker room, it was just really sad,” said Robertson, who tallied 13 goals in 2020 and ended his Princeton career with 67 goals and three assists.

“As the senior class, we knew that was probably it. We sent out the message that if the worst thing that ever happened in our lives was that our season got canceled, we have lived pretty blessed lives.”

This spring, Robertson is feeling blessed as he is taking care of some unfinished business, joining the Duke University men’s lacrosse team for a fifth year of eligibility resulting from the cancellation of the 2020 season due to the pandemic, getting to play with younger brother, Joe, a senior standout for the Blue Devils, and former Tiger teammate Michael Sowers. more

YES SHI CAN: Princeton High girls’ volleyball player Amanda Shi delivers a serve during a 2019 game. Senior co-captain Shi will be looking to step up in her final campaign for PHS. The Tigers start their 2021 campaign by hosting WW/P-South on March 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the New Jersey high school girls’ volleyball season was moved from the fall to this March over the summer due to COVID-19 concerns, Patty Manhart wasn’t fazed.

“I was really optimistic that things could be improving; I know that the direction for teaching was starting off slow, starting off remote, moving to hybrid, and getting more kids in the building,” said Princeton High girls’ volleyball head coach Manhart, who guided the Tigers to a 19-8 record in 2019, winning the BCSL (Burlington County Scholastic League) tournament and advancing to the second round of the state Group 4 tournament along the way.

“So if that was the direction we were going for school, I was hoping that would keep up with sports and by that time we would have figured out the protocol and the safety. I felt good. I feel like everyone is more comfortable being in the building. We know that the safety procedures are in place.”

Upon arriving in the gym on March 1 for the start of preseason practice, the PHS players displayed a comfort level.

“A lot of my girls are in the all remote cohort so they haven’t been coming into school and they haven’t really been seeing their friends,” said Manhart.

“So it was just like this is totally different but we are just happy to be here. I have really enjoyed just seeing them and being back even though the season feels different. There are some things that are the same and being able to get back together to work and laugh again has been really nice.” more

UP AND RUNNING: Princeton High girls’ star distance runner Charlotte Gilmore rounds a curve last Wednesday in the 1,600-meter run ahead of teammates Robin Roth and Lucy Kreipke as PHS hosted Hopewell Valley. It was the first competition of the winter season for the Tigers. PHS is next in action when it competes against HoVal on March 20 at the Bennett Athletic Center in Toms River. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After having its season delayed for months, the Princeton High indoor track team was fired up to start practice on February 1 only to see the area pummeled by a snowstorm.

Undeterred, the squad pushed ahead and showed some creativity as it worked through the weather issues.

“After everything we have been through, a little snow is no big deal,” said PHS head coach Ben Samara.

“We used the parking lot once it was cleared and we did some sprint work on the sidewalks. We did a lot of strength and conditioning work. We have been doing body weight and med ball workouts.”

Just getting to be together on a daily basis has been a huge plus for the Tiger coaches and athletes.

“Our theme this year and for years to come is going to be treat every day like it could be the last one that you could get to compete or practice because we found out last spring that nothing is certain,” said Samara.

“We truly feel blessed to be out there every day, having fun. Through the stop and start of February, we still had to have some remote practices and stuff. Every day that we are able to be there in person is just a lot of fun. The kids really look forward to coming every day and putting the work in.”

Last Wednesday, PHS had a lot of fun as it hosted Hopewell Valley for a meet held outdoors on its track in sunny, 60 degree conditions.

“We were lucky because there are not a lot of opportunities for competition,” said Samara. more

GREAT SCOTT: Hun School boys’ basketball player Jack Scott dribbles upcourt in a game this season. Junior guard Scott’s solid all-around play helped Hun go 8-2 this winter. (Photo by Lexi Thomas)

By Bill Alden

Although the Hun School boys’ basketball team dropped a 64-62 nail-biter to the Patrick School in its season finale on March 2, that defeat didn’t put a damper on a positive campaign for the program.

“We just kept getting better, improving, and growing with confidence,” said Hun head coach Jon Stone, whose team ended the 2021 campaign with an 8-2 record.

“We were pretty disappointed with the last game and the result. We were right there, we had a lot of chances. We just couldn’t close the deal.”

The Raiders were excited to get a chance to play back-to-back games against Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) rival Peddie, posting a pair of wins, topping the Falcons 78-60 on February 27 and 58-52 on March 1.

“It was great to play a team in our league. We played Blair early on which was great,” said Stone.

“It doesn’t feel like a season if you don’t play some league games. We were super-excited to hear that they were cleared to play and then to play them back to back was great. It was great for us to get wins both times.”

Hun displayed offensive balance in the victories over Peddie, with four players (Jack Scott – 20 points, Dan Vessey – 15, Kelvin Smith – 14, and Toby Thornburg -11) scoring in double figures in the first meeting and three (Vessey – 18, Smith – 16, Isiaha Dickens – 14) hitting that mark in the second contest. more

END POINT: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Nia Melvin handles the ball in a game this winter. Senior star point guard Melvin capped her stellar career by scoring 12 points and grabbing four rebounds in a 71-55 loss to Saddle River Day on March 4 in the season finale. Stuart ended the season with a 7-6 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Justin Leith will tell you that the most important stats produced by his Stuart Country Day School basketball team this winter were 51, 13, and 0.

“We had 51 practices and we were able to get in 13 games all in the midst of the pandemic and not one of our kids got a case,” said Stuart head coach Leith.

“There were exposures that took place but there was never a case where one of our kids tested positive. It is wonderful that we were able to pull this off. I am certainly proud of them. They were able to accomplish something, as did all of the kids did in the state and country that pulled this off, that no one ever has. They should be celebrated.”

Leith was proud of the way his squad competed in the last week of the season, losing two battles to Saddle River Day (75-61 on February 26 and 71-55 on March 4) to finish with a 7-6 record.

“It takes time to cultivate consistency, that is something we were able to do last year,” said Leith, noting that Stuart started 5-6 in 2019-20 before catching fire to end up 21-7, winning its third straight state Prep B title and making its first Mercer County Tournament final along the way.

“The last week of this season is where we had begun to cultivate the consistency of our work ethic. That is why we go up and down with Saddle River Day. They take the lead, we take the lead. We went up 10 at one point and they fought their way back. That is what happens when two very good teams are playing. It is a game of runs. I wasn’t worried about the win or the loss. I told the girls that we were really starting to come into our own where we are consistently working our butts off and there are no lulls. In those last two games of the season, we were getting to that place which usually takes place in December.”

Facing a gauntlet of tough foes helped Stuart raise the level of its game. more

March 10, 2021

Morven Museum & Garden Horticulturist Louise Senior points out witch hazel during a tour of Morven’s grounds on Sunday afternoon. Participants share their favorite early signs of spring and spring flowers in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

One year ago the Princeton Health Department announced Princeton’s first positive case of the new coronavirus, a 49-year-old resident who had attended a private party in Princeton where two people from the Boston area were later found to be infected.

Fourteen of the 47 people at the party were Princeton residents. They were all contacted by the Princeton Health Department, and nine of them reported one or more symptoms of COVID and were tested. On Sunday, March 15, 2020 the health department announced the second, third, and fourth COVID-19 cases in Princeton. Since then there have been more than 620 cases and 21 COVID-related deaths, with an additional 13 probable COVID-related deaths, reported in Princeton.

Noting that there has been little time for reflection over the past year, Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser wrote in an email on Tuesday, March 9, “Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Princeton’s first confirmed case reported to the health department, although we had already been contact tracing prior to the first confirmed case because reporting was delayed in the beginning due to laboratories scrambling to deal with the influx of new specimens.”

Emphasizing the ongoing struggle with the pandemic, he added, “It’s hard to believe it has been a year. The health department has not had much reprieve in the last 12 months, with all of the changes and new things learned about COVID-19. It has put public health to the test, and reflection has not been an option, nor a priority.”

He continued, “The only priority the health department team is focused on right now is vaccine distribution to as many people as possible. And after that, time will tell but it will likely be the catching up of many preventative health services delayed due to the pandemic, along with the social and emotional repercussions we are just starting to skim the surface of.”

On Monday, March 8 the Princeton Health Department reported a continuing decline in cases, with just three new positive cases in Princeton in the past seven days, and 12 cases in the past 14 days.

As of Tuesday morning, March 9, New Jersey has administered 2,558,570 vaccine doses, including 1,688,812 first doses and 869,104 second doses. The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) received its first shipment of Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved one-shot vaccine last week to join the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not require ultra-cold storage, which makes it transportable to homebound individuals and others who cannot get to vaccination sites.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced on Monday, March 8, that fully vaccinated individuals can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks or social distancing. more

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton Public Schools (PPS) middle school students have chosen ten semifinalists in the process of renaming their school, and the next step is in the hands of the Princeton community, which is invited to vote for its preferred candidate.

Formerly John Witherspoon Middle School, now temporarily Princeton Unified Middle School (PUMS), the school on Walnut Lane will be renamed by June — maybe it will be Albert Einstein Middle School or Elizabeth Stockton Middle School. Or John Lewis or Michelle Obama or Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Nation or Paul Robeson or Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Shirley Satterfield Middle School.

Or, with a growing contingent eager to give the various middle school hallways names rather than the whole school, the middle school might become Princeton Community School or Walnut Lane Middle School, with future naming opportunities for the hallways.

The Board of Education (BOE) will make the final decision by June, but promises that that decision will be informed by the voting of PUMS students and community members.

“Our community’s commitment to our core values of diversity, inclusion, and respect for all is at the foundation of the Princeton Unified Middle School’s process to determine its new name,” states the PPS website.

More than 600 PUMS students recently viewed video projects created by eighth grade civics students to promote possible new names. The community voting page is available at princetonk12.org and includes the students’ videos and further

background information on the process and the ten specific recommendations for names. more

By Anne Levin

At a meeting of Princeton Council Monday night, it was announced that former longtime municipal administrator Bob Bruschi will return as interim administrator beginning sometime next week. Bruschi, who was administrator of the former Borough and later of consolidated Princeton until his retirement in 2014, will temporarily replace his successor Marc Dashield, who announced last fall that he would be leaving this spring.

Bruschi will be in the post for anywhere from about six weeks to a few months, Councilwoman Eve Niedergang said. A decision on a permanent hire for the job is hoped for by the end of this month. Niedergang also announced that the town has hired a new sewer manager, and that interviews will begin soon for the position of open space manager.

Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton reported that she and members of other departments had met with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) regarding improving the safety of the traffic signal at Nassau and Witherspoon streets. “I think we made good progress

in getting consensus that safety is the primary goal,” she said, adding that the DOT has proposed adding bump-out curb extensions. “We continue to have discussions with them and they are looking forward to moving the project into the design phase for construction in 2022.”

Council heard a report by attorney Kevin Van Hise on the memo he issued last week regarding a recent realization that the 20 percent affordable housing set-aside was not in place, as previously assumed. Several members of the public commented, including attorney Virginia Kerr, who wondered if the town was getting additional opinions. more

FOUR-TIME CHAMPS: Princeton Charter School’s Science Bowl team will be going to the national competition in April for the fourth year in a row after winning last month’s U.S. Department of Energy’s New Jersey Regional Science Bowl hosted by Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. (Courtesy of Princeton Charter School)

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton Charter School (PCS) brought home the first-place trophy for the fourth consecutive year in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) New Jersey Regional Science Bowl middle school competition, hosted by the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) on February 19 and 20.

With this year’s contests all virtual, PCS will be participating in the National Science Bowl preliminary rounds in April, and the top 32 middle and high school teams will move on to the final elimination tournaments in May. PCS made it to the final 16 round last year.

In the regional high school division finals, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South battled it out for the top prize with the North team emerging victorious to advance to the national competition this spring.

The PCS team of Justin Feder, Nitza Kahlon, Vihaan Jim, Reed Sacks, and Albert Zhu defeated William Annin Middle School from Basking Ridge in the finals, with Highland Park Middle School coming in third. The Noor-ul-Iman middle school team from Monmouth Junction received the Spirit Prize for displaying the best team spirit and sportsmanship.

In the high school division, the Princeton International School for Math and Science came in third behind the two West Windsor-Plainsboro schools.

With many students attending school from home this year or in a hybrid model of at-home and in-school classes, the coaches and students noted that the Science Bowl provided a sense of normalcy. “So many things are different this year. But at least we can do Science Bowl,” said PCS Coach Laura Celik. more

By Anne Levin

The fact that Princeton Public Library is still only open during limited hours was not about to stop staff from staging a significant observance of Women’s History Month.

Along the building’s spacious windows on Witherspoon Street, the library has mounted an exhibit of posters from the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC., focused on the contributions of women inventors. The display, which is also available online, highlights the work of 19 women.

Among those featured is Kavita Shukla, who came up with a way to purify water to help end food spoilage and waste in areas where refrigeration isn’t available – patented when she was a high school senior.

Jogger Lisa Lindahl, who teamed up with costume designers Polly Palmer Smith and Hinda Miller to create a “Jogbra,” is represented. So is Marilyn Hamilton, who was paralyzed after a hang-gliding accident and worked with friends to invent a lightweight wheelchair that would allow her, and others in similar circumstances, to continue to be active. Hamilton’s many accomplishments as an athlete include two women’s wheelchair singles titles in the US Open tennis competition.

The list goes on. “We wanted to focus on Women’s History Month as the crux of programming this month, and we wanted a way to attract people even though we’ve been closed and are now open with limited hours,” said Public Programming Librarian Janie Hermann. “Right now, other than our E-newsletter, it’s hard to get news out.  We don’t have [in-house magazine] Connections, and we don’t have handbills right now.” more