January 30, 2019

By Donald Gilpin

With the numbers of volunteers in a steady decline over the past several years, Princeton may be heading away from an all-volunteer fire department to a combination of paid and volunteer firefighters.

In the coming months the Princeton Council will be considering proposals to hire personnel to help support the declining numbers of volunteer firefighters, according to Princeton Municipal Administrator Marc Dashield.

“We’re having problems getting volunteers,” said Robert Gregory, Princeton director of emergency services. “There’s been a significant drop in numbers.”

Gregory cited several challenges facing the fire department, including young, inexperienced drivers; lack of available affordable housing, with many volunteers living out of town and being unable to respond quickly; and Princeton being a town with over 50 percent professional people and travelers who are often not home. more

SAFE SPACE: Chief Activist Robt Seda-Schreiber, second from right, and local Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) members gather at the newly refurbished headquarters of the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice (BRC) behind HiTOPS. The BRC is hosting an LGBTQI panel discussion tonight at 6:30 p.m. (Photo courtesy of Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice)

By Donald Gilpin

In the spirit of the legendary civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, whose homosexuality caused him to face intense discrimination during his lifetime, the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice (BRC), settling into its new home on Wiggins Street behind the HiTOPS building, is reaching out to provide support to all who seek its services.

Remodeled as a community space for gatherings, the BRC will be hosting a panel presentation tonight, January 30, at 6:30-8:30 p.m on LGBTQI Cultural Competencies, including information about language and definition of terms associated with the LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans, questioning, intersex) community — just one of many events planned for the new center.

“I wanted our kids and families to have open space to have rainbow dances, screenings, lectures, workshops, and symposiums,” said BRC Founder and Chief Activist Robt Seda-Schreiber. “I want it to be a community activist center and a safe space for all.” more

GRACIOUS LIVING: Author Kate Markert will discuss and sign her book about Marjorie Merriweather Post and her lavish homes at the first of four talks at Morven on February 21. The museum hopes to make the Grand Homes & Gardens Distinguished Speakers  Series an annual event.

By Anne Levin

During winter’s bleakest months, it can be difficult for museums to entice people away from the warmth of their living rooms. An upcoming series of programs at Morven Museum & Garden was created with just that challenge in mind.

The Grand Homes & Gardens Distinguished Speakers Series aims to lure patrons with talks and visuals about how the other half lives — or lived. From Post cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post’s three spectacular homes, including the now famous Mar-a-Lago, to Morven itself, the series provides a kind of “armchair travel,” said Jill Barry, Morven’s executive director.

“It’s the drabbest part of winter, and this is a way into not only beautiful gardens, but beautiful homes that epitomize their sense of space and place,” she said. “We are hoping this is a success, and that every winter we can bring another series together.” more

IGNITING PASSION: Princeton Montessori School (PM) Music Teacher Alex Mitnick takes an unconventional approach to music education, engaging his students with lots of movement, drumming, rock bands, and the opportunity to create songs and musical productions of their own. When he’s not at PM, Mitnick, an Emmy Award-winning children’s performer, can most likely be found working on his own TV show, “Alex & The Kaleidoscope.”  (Photo courtesy of Alex Mitnick)

By Donald Gilpin

“We nurture potential and seek to ignite each child’s passion,” states the Princeton Montessori School’s (PM) website. “That’s exactly what happened to me,” said PM Music Teacher and Emmy Award-winner  Alex Mitnick, who also has his own TV show, Alex & The Kaleidoscope, on New York City Public TV.

“I was in an environment with a school director who allowed me to do what I wanted to do, and it really did ignite a passion that I have for music and kids,” he continued. “I don’t know if it would have happened anywhere else. I’m able to write songs and produce shows in my little laboratory here, and that slogan informs all the work I do.”

In his 19th year at PM and currently teaching music to students from third grade through middle school, Mitnick is working on an original musical about the life of Maria Montessori to celebrate the 50th anniversary of PM. The musical, which will debut on April 12 and 13, involves the entire school, Mitnick said.  more

By Anne Levin

In the 12-year cycle of animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac, 2019 is the Year of the Pig. Zodiac signs play an important role in Chinese culture, and can be used to determine fortune for the year, marriage compatibility, career fit, and even the best times to have a baby.

Predictions aside, the annual celebration of Chinese Lunar New Year is a chance for sampling food, games, music, martial arts, and colorful pageantry related to Chinese heritage. The official start of the year is February 5, but local and regional celebrations of the holiday start on February 1 and run through February 17.

Princeton High School’s Mandarin class and the school’s Chinese club will host a celebration at Princeton Public Library on Saturday, February 2 from 2 to 4 p.m. Open to all, the party includes activities for all ages including traditional music and instruments, martial arts, calligraphy, painting, dance, origami, and crafts. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Through long, long years I sang my songs. But when I wished to sing of love it turned to sorrow, and when I wanted to sing of sorrow it was transformed for me into love.

— Franz Schubert (1797-1828), from “My Dream”

If the metaphor popularized in the 1934 tune “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” is on my mind, it isn’t because tomorrow, January 31, is the 222nd birthday of Franz Schubert, it’s because I’ve been listening to a Jazz Age guitarist from Philadelphia named Eddie Lang (1902-1933). What happens when Lang plucks the guitar strings, each note crystal clear, shining and separate, expresses something like the ebb and flow of love and sorrow Schubert muses on in “My Dream,” which was written in 1822 when he was 25 and had only six years to live. Lang was 25 in 1927 and had less than six years to live when he recorded much of the music that’s been haunting me for the past week, thanks to A Handful of Riffs, a CD with liner notes rightly referring to Lang as “one of the great originals,” the first to give the guitar “real soul in jazz.”

The heartstrings metaphor seems less banal when you put it together with a lyric about “a melody that haunted me from the start,” when “something inside of me started a symphony,” and “all nature seemed to be in perfect harmony.” And surely  there’s nothing to be ashamed of in a line like “Your eyes made skies seem blue again,” especially when sung on YouTube by a glowing sixteen-year-old Judy Garland a year before The Wizard of Oz. more

Princeton University Concerts (PUC) continues its 125th anniversary celebration with the last program of the single-work Performances Up Close series on Tuesday, February 19, at 6 and 9 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium.

The Brentano String Quartet and Anthony McGill (principal clarinet, New York Philharmonic), Jennifer Montone (principal horn, Philadelphia Orchestra), Daniel Matsukawa (principal bassoon, Philadelphia Orchestra), and Leigh Mesh (associate principal bass, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) perform Franz Schubert’s Octet for Winds & Strings in F Major, D. 803.

Selected in PUC’s audience survey as one of the community’s most beloved chamber music works, the hour-long octet will be the only piece of music performed at these concerts, which also feature onstage seating for its listeners as well as special lighting. The concert design is conceived by Broadway actor and director Michael Dean Morgan and lighting designer Wesley Cornwell. more

“INK AND EMULSION SUSPENDED IN POLYESTER”: This work by Robert Erickson is featured in “Saturated Geometry,” a five-artist exhibit at the MCCC Gallery through March 7. A reception on Wednesday, February 6 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The Gallery is located at 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor.

The Gallery at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) is now showcasing works by five artists in its group exhibit, “Saturated Geometry.” The show runs through Thursday, March 7. The community is invited to a reception on Wednesday, February 6 from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

The MCCC Gallery is located on the second floor of the Communications Building on the college’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. more

The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster has two new exhibitions on view through March 2.

“The National Association of Women Artists 130th Anniversary Exhibition: Wall Sculpture,” features the work of Harriet FeBland, Danielle Frankenthal, Maureen Kelleher, and Natsuki Takauji. This exhibition is curated by Jeffrey Wechsler, who was senior curator at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and retired in 2013 after 36 years of service.  Wechsler was involved with the establishment of the National Association of Women Artists (NAWA) Collection at Rutgers, oversaw the initial and ongoing acquisition of art for that collection, and organized exhibitions derived from that collection. He is currently on NAWA’s board of directors. When asked about this special anniversary exhibition he said, “While the art of NAWA members ranges over virtually every art medium, this exhibition focuses on a particular form that is somewhat hybrid in practice and visual effect: sculptural works that are mounted on a wall.  The four artists in the exhibition elaborate upon this physical concept with diverse approaches to material and meaning; they also represent several chronological generations, underscoring the long history of NAWA.” more

MODERN DAY KING ARTHUR: Bullied British schoolboy Alex Elliot (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) finds a sword in a boulder and yanks it out to embrace his destiny and join his friends in a fight against evil in “The Kid Who Would Be King.” (Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

By Kam Williams

British schoolboy Alex Elliot (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is the unlikeliest of heroes. After all, the pint-sized 12-year-old and his nerdy best friend, Bedders (Dean Chaumoo), are bullied on a daily basis at Dungate Academy.

Unfortunately, Alex doesn’t have a father or a big brother to teach him how to deal with his tormentors. His dad disappeared ages ago, leaving behind a copy of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table inscribed with a dedication comparing his son to the classic novel’s legendary title character. more

SLAMMING SAM: Princeton University women’s squash player Sam Chai follows through on a shot in recent action. Senior Chai has starred at No. 5, helping the Tigers go 9-0 overall and 2-0 Ivy League. Princeton, currently ranked No. 1 in the Dunlop Women’s College Squash Association Team Rankings, hosts No. 5 Penn on January 30, No. 2 Harvard on February 2, and No. 9 Dartmouth on February 3. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

With her Princeton University women’s squash team lineup containing three freshmen and three sophomores in the top nine, Gail Ramsay wasn’t sure what to expect coming into the winter.

It didn’t take long for longtime Princeton head coach Ramsay to realize that her young squad could be something special this season.

Facing No. 4 Stanford on November 17 in its second match of the season, Princeton cruised to a 7-2 victory, making an early statement.

“They were a top 5 team, they are strong at the top,” said Ramsay, who is in her 25th season at the helm of the Tiger program. “I was really concerned.” more

RYAN’S HOPE: Princeton University men’s basketball player Ryan Schwieger puts on the defensive pressure in a game last year. This past Sunday, sophomore guard Schwieger scored a career-high 15 points, going 6-of-6 from the floor, as Princeton defeated Division III foe Wesley 91-62 in returning from a 15-day hiatus for exams. The Tigers, now 10-5 overall, resume Ivy League play with games at Columbia on February 1 and at Cornell on February 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though the Princeton University men’s basketball team was on a 15-day hiatus for exams starting in mid-January, Ryan Schwieger managed to get his reps in.

“I have been working hard; I didn’t have that many exams so I was in the gym a lot, working with the guys,” said Schweiger. “We all got better over this little break.”

Schwieger’s hard work paid dividends as the Tigers returned to action last Sunday by hosting Division III foe Wesley. He tallied a career-high 15 points, going 6-of-6 from the floor, helping Princeton roll to a 91-62 win, improving to 10-5 overall. more

CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT: Hun School girls’ swimmer Marie-Eve Hebert heads to victory in the 200-meter freestyle at the Mercer County Championships last Saturday. Junior Hebert also prevailed in the 400 free, helping Hun to the team title, its first county crown in program history. The Raiders piled up 207 points in taking the championship, with WW/P-South coming in second at 175. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Standing in the starting blocks before swimming the anchor leg on the girls’ 400-meter freestyle relay last Saturday at the Mercer County Championships, Marie-Eve Hebert gave each of her arms a slap, readying herself for a big effort.

The Hun School junior transfer exploded into the water at the WW/P-North pool, churning out a blistering swim that helped the Raiders take second in the race.

That performance put the finishing touch on a remarkable day for the Hun girls as they earned the first county team title in program history. The Raiders piled up 207 points in taking the crown with WW/P-South coming in second at 175.  more

CO-STARRING: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Gefen Bar-Cohen heads to the hoop in a game earlier this season. Last Wednesday, Bar-Cohen tallied 17 points to to help PHS edge Princeton Day School 70-68. The Tigers, who fell 58-56 to Hamilton last Friday in moving to 8-7, play at Robbinsville on February 1 and then host Notre Dame on February 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Gefen Bar-Cohen served as a swing player for the Princeton High boys’ basketball program last winter as a sophomore.

He started the season on the junior varsity and was promoted to the varsity midway through the campaign.

Last Wednesday at Princeton Day School, Bar-Cohen helped swing a nip-and-tuck battle between the crosstown rivals in the favor of PHS, starring in the fourth quarter as the Tigers pulled out a 70-68 win.

Bar-Cohen made some key rebounds and hit four key free throws in the waning moments as the Tigers weathered the PDS surge.

“I have really been working on my free throws this year; I just knew that if I hit them the game was over,” said Bar-Cohen, who ended the evening with 17 points. “We have been in this position many times, so we just had to keep our composure and finish it out.” more

PASSING JUDGMENT: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Shaylah Marciano passes the ball in recent action. Last Wednesday, junior point guard Marciano scored 12 points with six assists and six steals to help PHS defeat Princeton Day School 61-17. Two days later, Marciano contributed six points and eight assists as the Tigers defeated Hamilton 41-20 and improved to 12-4. PHS plays at Notre Dame on February 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Shaylah Marciano stays busy athletically throughout the school year for Princeton High.

Marciano is a star goalie for the PHS girls’ soccer team in the fall, a point guard for the basketball team in the winter, and a playmaking midfield for the lacrosse squad in the spring who was among the state leaders in assists last spring.

As a result, junior Marciano has developed a game sense and ability to see plays develop before they happen.

Last Wednesday, her savvy was on display as the PHS girls’ hoops team headed across town to face Princeton Day School.

With Marciano triggering the offense, the Tigers jumped out to a 16-5 lead. more

TEN SPEED: Princeton High boys’ swimmer Owen Tennant competes in the 200-meter individual medley last Saturday in the Mercer County Championships at the WW/P-North pool. Sophomore Tennant placed sixth in both the 200 IM and in the 100 backstroke, helping PHS take fifth of 13 schools in the boys’ team standings. The Tiger girls, led by junior Cameron Davis, finished sixth in their team standings. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although Carly Misiewicz would have liked to see her Princeton High boys’ and girls’ swimming squads in the hunt for team titles at the Mercer County Championships last Saturday at WW/P-North, she believes the program laid the foundation for future success.

Featuring a number of talented freshman performers, the PHS girls took sixth in their meet, which was won by the Hun School.

“I think the girls did a great job overall; our freshmen this year really stepped up,” said PHS head coach Misiewicz, citing the efforts of newcomers Abby Walden, Katie DiVenti, and Tracey Liu. “They were really excited about this meet coming into it, they had a little bit of nerves but nerves are good.” more

LINING IT UP: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Caroline Haggerty goes after the puck in a game last winter. Last Friday, junior defenseman Haggerty scored a goal to help PDS edge Immaculate Heart 2-1. On Monday, Haggerty chipped in a goal and two assists as the Panthers topped Princeton High 6-1 to improve to 9-9. PDS hosts Chatham Madison on January 30 before getting into postseason play. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In mid-January, the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team edged Immaculate Heart Academy 3-2.

When the foes met for a rematch last Friday at PDS, it appeared that Immaculate Heart might be turning the tables on the Panthers as it took 1-0 lead early in the second period.

PHS junior defenseman Caroline Haggerty acknowledged that she felt a little edgy about round two with the Blue Eagles. more

COLD WAR: Princeton Day School boys’ player Ty Eastman, right, battles a Lawrenceville School player for the puck last Thursday as the rivals met in Hobey Baker Rink. Senior forward Eastman scored two goals in a losing cause as PDS fell 5-4 to the Big Red. The Panthers, who moved to 11-9-1 with the setback, play at St. Augustine on January 30 before hosting Seton Hall Prep on January 31 and Chatham High on February 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

A raucous throng of fans flocked to Hobey Baker Rink last Wednesday as the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team faced Lawrenceville in the latest installment of their heated local rivalry.

Minutes into the contest, the blue-clad PDS supporters were stunned into an uneasy silence as Lawrenceville jumped out to an early lead, scoring three unanswered goals in the first 12 minutes of the contest.

While that certainly wasn’t the game plan for the Panthers, senior forward Ty Eastman was confident that PDS could dig out of that hole. more

January 23, 2019

Dr. Alisha Lola Jones was the guest preacher at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service of Recommitment on Sunday morning at Princeton University Chapel. The service, which also featured the Princeton University Chapel Choir, was one of many area events honoring Dr. King’s legacy. (Photo by Erica M. Cardenas)

By Anne Levin

Following a phone call to NJ Transit Tuesday morning to find out when service on the Dinky train that connects Princeton with Princeton Junction would be restored, Mayor Liz Lempert was “extremely frustrated.”

“They’re aware of the upcoming road closures on Alexander Street, but I haven’t gotten a date of when they are going to resume service,” she said. “It was important in the beginning of this closure that they finish, and now it’s critical.”

NJ Transit closed down the Dinky line in October in order to meet federal deadlines for Positive Train Control (PTC) throughout the state by the end of December. It was estimated that service would be restored by January 15. The train link has been replaced by bus service between the two stations, which many commuters have criticized because of rush hour delays and other factors. more

By Donald Gilpin

A congregation of almost 300 packed the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton on Monday night to commemorate the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hosted by the Princeton Clergy Association (PCA) and the Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA), the multifaith service was conducted by more than a dozen faith leaders from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religions, with several area choirs and musicians also participating.

Ruha Benjamin, chair of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Princeton and  Princeton University associate professor of African American Studies, delivered the sermon: “The Year is 2069: What in the World Have We Done?”

Reflecting on King’s message for our time, Benjamin urged, “Nothing short of a revolution of values, in King’s words, can lead to a shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.” more

By Anne Levin

On Wednesday, January 30, participants in Princeton’s Curbside Organics Program will put their cans of materials out for pick up for the last time — or at least until the town figures out the best way to continue the program following a three-month hiatus.

Mayor Liz Lempert announced last week that the program, which began in 2011, is temporarily suspended due to problems with Solterra, the current hauler. It turns out that the food waste was not always being taken to a farm for composting, as was originally planned. Instead, it was sometimes going to a landfill.

Compounding the problem, when the town sought bids from contractors to continue the program for the next two years, the only company to provide a bid was the same one currently being used — at double the price. “As a result, the program’s cost to participants and the municipality would double with no guarantee that pick-up service will improve, or that our food waste won’t be incinerated or landfilled,” Lempert wrote to participants, who are paying $65 a year for the service. Some 800 families have been enrolled. more

IMMERSION ACTIVITY: Kindergarten Spanish partner teacher Abril Retana works with her students in the Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program at Community Park Elementary School. DLI, currently for kindergarten through fourth grade, will be expanded to fifth graders next year. (Photo by Elizabeth Collier, Princeton Public Schools)

By Donald Gilpin

The Spanish-English Dual-Language Immersion (DLI) program at Princeton Public Schools (PPS) is ready to expand to include kindergarten through fifth grade next year at Community Park Elementary School (CPS).

Launched in 2015, the DLI program, in which students spend half of their day learning in Spanish and the other half in English, currently spans kindergarten through fourth grade and is now open to all PPS students entering kindergarten or first grade.

Last year was the first year that families from all Princeton elementary schools were eligible to apply for the kindergarten DLI classes at CPS. Students from Johnson Park, Littlebrook, or Riverside Elementary schools who apply and are accepted for DLI will be offered transportation to CPS if they do not live within walking distance.  more

By Anne Levin

Adam Bierman

Adam Bierman has announced he will make another run for a seat on Princeton Council this year. Bierman, who made an unsuccessful bid for Council in the 2018 Democratic primary, joins Michelle Pirone Lambros, who announced her candidacy early this month. Both Bierman and Lambros are Democrats.

The terms of Council President Jenny Crumiller and Councilman Tim Quinn will conclude at the end of this year. While Quinn will run for re-election, Crumiller has said she will not.

In a press release, Bierman said, “I am running as a candidate for Princeton Council because I feel it is an opportunity and the time for me to step in and help with the progression of my hometown to intelligently move forward with the current challenges at hand. These include from an effective and efficient regional transportation system to infrastructure, debt reduction, and voluntary payments from the University. In short, my candidacy will endeavor to achieve the maximum amount of services for the minimum amount of dollars.” more

TRAVELING TROUBADOUR: Singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane will be performing at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, next month featuring songs from his “8980: Book of Travelers,” an album based on his experience and the people he met on an 8,980-mile train journey he embarked on the day after the 2016 election.  (Photo courtesy of Princeton University Concerts)

By Donald Gilpin

Singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane, who will be performing next month at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, described his preparation for his recent 8980: Book of Travelers album (Nonesuch Records).

“The morning after the 2016 presidential election, I packed a suitcase and boarded Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited bound for Chicago,” he wrote on the album cover. “Over the next 13 days, I talked to dozens of strangers whom I met, primarily, in dining cars aboard the six trains that would carry me some 8,980 miles around the country. The songs on this album are intended as a kind of loose diary of that journey, and as a portrait of America at a time of profound national turbulence.” more