December 11, 2019

BRAKE OUT: Hun School boys’ hockey player Chris Brake, right, goes after the puck in action last week. Senior captain and forward Brake has helped Hun start the 2019-20 season at 1-0-1 as the Raiders defeated LaSalle College High (Pa.) 6-3 in their season opener last Wednesday and then skated to a 4-4 tie with St. John Vianney a day later. In upcoming action, Hun faces St. Joe’s Metuchen on December 11 at Woodbridge Community Center and then plays at the Lawrenceville School on December 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With a roster stocked with newcomers, the Hun School boys’ hockey team will have a markedly different look this winter.

Noting that two-thirds of his players are new to the school as well as the program, Hun head coach Ian McNally is embracing the changes to his squad.

“The mood is great, it is like a new group; it is an excited energy,” said McNally, who guided Hun to a 15-8-1 record last winter and its sixth straight Mercer County Tournament title.

“They don’t know the history or anybody or any of that stuff. It is a fun vibe right now.”

McNally is relying on one of his old hands, Chris Brake, who has quite a history with the program, to lead the group. more

December 4, 2019

The Princeton High School Choir, with help from Santa, helped kick off the holiday season at the annual Palmer Square Tree Lighting on Friday evening. Princeton School of Rock also joined in the festivities. Participants share what they’re looking forward to this holiday season in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

Teachers, administrators, and parents are hoping to see drops in students’ high levels of stress and sleep deprivation and increases in levels of joyful engagement with learning, as Princeton High School students participated Tuesday in a three-year update of a survey originally conducted by Stanford University researchers in December 2016.

PHS Principal Jessica Baxter, as assistant principal over the past two years before taking the reins as principal this fall, was a leader in implementing and following up on the survey. “We were a strong school academically, but we weren’t so healthy,” she said in an interview last spring. “We were trying to focus on wellness, and our kids were not feeling well. They were feeling over-scheduled, overworked, and stressed out. It was manifesting in different ways. We were seeing kids missing school, kids not enjoying classes, and lacking engagement in the learning process.”

The Challenge Success survey reported three years ago that of the 1,417 PHS participants, 81 percent were often or always stressed by schoolwork, 47 percent stated that a stress-related health or emotional problem had caused them to miss more than one day of school, and 41 percent had experienced exhaustion, headaches, and difficulty sleeping in the past month. Students estimated spending more than three hours a night on homework, getting less than six-and-a-half hours of sleep each night, with 64 percent usually going to bed later than 11 p.m. more

By Donald Gilpin

An application to expand preschool, with the addition of a general education class of 15 3- and 4-year-old children, was prominent on the agenda at last night’s Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE) meeting.

At the special Board meeting, which was to take place after press time Tuesday night, PPS Superintendent Steve Cochrane was scheduled to recommend that the BOE submit a one-year preschool plan for 2020-2021 to the Early Childhood Division of the New Jersey Department of Education. The district’s plan is a targeted preschool program for “at risk” children.

“”High quality preschool is one of the most powerful, research-based ways of closing the achievement gap,” Cochrane wrote in an email, noting that his slide presentation for the BOE would indicate some of the positive effects. “We are tremendously excited to be expanding this opportunity to advance the learning for the youngest members of our community.”

If the expansion is approved by the state, the new class would be held at the YWCA. The district is also considering moving the preschool class that is currently at Community Park to the YWCA, which would make a total of three preschool classes at the YWCA and two in district. more

PROVIDING A WARM WELCOME: Newcomers and Friends Club members are shown here at a picnic this past June. The group, which celebrated 60 years this fall, supports programs at the Princeton YWCA and provides long-lasting friendships to Princeton residents who were new to the area at one time.

By Wendy Greenberg

On March 18, 1959, 50 women who had lived in the Princeton area for two years or less gathered at a dessert tea, seeking community. At that event, the Newcomers and Friends Club of the Princeton YWCA was born.

Sixty years later, the club still provides a warm welcome and a sense of belonging. An anniversary celebration of the Newcomers and Friends Club was held this past October. Earliest member Kay Yoder, who joined in 1961, was there, and so were more than 100 women of all ages, many of whom say they found friendships that lasted far beyond their time as true newcomers. more

OPENING THEIR DOORS: Lucia and Vance Smith are among those who will open their doors on Saturday, December 7, as part of the annual Mill Hill Holiday House Tour. The couple, who chaired this year’s tour, say they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

By Anne Levin

It was on a tour of gardens in Trenton’s Mill Hill section 15 years ago that Vance and Lucia Smith fell in love with the neighborhood and vowed to make it their home. Two years ago,  the couple and their daughter, Olivia, finally made the move from Hopewell to a three-story 1886 Victorian on Montgomery Street, right across from a larger-than-life statue of George Washington.

While they are still relatively new to the neighborhood, the Smiths volunteered this season to chair the annual Mill Hill Holiday House Tour. Vance, a professor of medieval and African literature at Princeton University, and Lucia, a therapist in Pennington, have been gently prodding their fellow residents  to open their homes to the public for the fundraiser, which is Saturday, December 7 from 12-5 p.m.

Stops on the tour include an eclectic collection of residences, two churches, the Mill Hill Playhouse, and the historic Douglass House, where a costumed re-enactor will be on site to tell the story of the building. The tour has a theme — “Secret City.” more

NEW BALLET STUDIO: Some of the area’s best-known ballet teachers are joining forces at the Martin Center for Dance, set to open in January at a 5,000-square-foot space on Princess Road. From left are Mary Barton, Maria Youskevitch, Mary Pat Robertson, and Kirk Peterson. Douglas Martin is seated in front.

By Anne Levin

Last July, longtime American Repertory Ballet (ARB) Artistic Director Douglas Martin was unexpectedly relieved of his duties at the company and its affiliated Princeton Ballet School. After 25 years with the organization — first as a dancer, then as a director — Martin and his wife Mary Barton, also a former dancer, choreographer, and popular teacher, found themselves without jobs.

Shocked at first, the couple have decidedly moved on. Early next year, they will open the Martin Center for Dance on Princess Road in Lawrenceville, joined by fellow former ARB and Princeton Ballet School colleagues Mary Pat Robertson, Maria Youskevitch, Kirk Peterson, and Erika Mero. Sample classes will begin in January, after a soft opening later this month. A schedule of 50 classes — ballet for all ages, contemporary dance (including a class for those aged 50 and up), and more, will be available.

Martin admits to a period of recovery from the shock of being dismissed, but he prefers to focus on the future instead of the past. “I just love to work, I love to dance, and I love ballet,” he said. “I am actually quite happy and at peace after leaving ARB [the company is currently led by Julie Diana Hench]. I did experience every portion of the business before I became director, and that was really helpful in getting a handle on what is needed to make a success.” more

By Donald Gilpin

“Take Action” is a tab on the navigation bar of Sustainable Princeton’s (SP) new website, where science-based information provides advice on everyday decisions, and SP has been taking action with an increased sense of urgency on several fronts in the battle against climate change.

“We are excited about our new website and visual identity,” said SP Executive Director Molly Jones. “The new logo embodies the urgency of our work, recognizing that sustainability can no longer be a nice-to-have, but is a requirement for a healthy and vibrant future. We are also delighted that the new website expands fulfillment of our mission by serving as a key resource hub for guidance on sustainable living. While much of the content provides helpful tips for residents of any town, the guidance is specifically focused on community members living in the municipality of Princeton.”

The new logo is a simple, streamlined “Sustainable Princeton” in block letters followed by a large period. Their new tagline is “Leading Community Change.”

“Addressing climate change is non-negotiable,” said Jones. “Our new logo drives home the point that sustainability is an urgent necessity. Princeton needs to be a green community. Period.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

Call me Mickey Mouse … It was  fun when you called me Mickey Mouse.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, from The Crack-Up

First things first, I would never throw Mickey Mouse under the bus. Although I regret my failure to write about last year’s 90th anniversary of Mickey’s debut in the 1928 cartoon, Steamboat Willie, I’m using the occasion as an excuse for replaying the catchiest number at the top of the impeachment hearings hit parade. 

Anyway, since the person you “throw under the bus” apparently has to be a political crony or supporter you suddenly want nothing to do with, as in, “I hardly know the man,” I have colorful evidence of my lifelong acquaintance with Walt Disney’s ageless creation right here on the desk in a torn and tattered copy of Mickey Mouse in “The Mystery of the Double-Cross Ranch” from 1950, alongside another old friend, my falling-apart New Directions paperback of The Crack-Up, a collection of Fitzgerald’s writings edited by his friend and Princeton classmate Edmund Wilson.



“DESIRES OF A CRIMINAL”: From left: Haley Schweitzer, Ryan Manning, Chelsi Yacone, Eva Hargis, and Hope Higginbotham in “Desires of a Criminal, a Devised Theatrical Collage,” an original play based on the works of Jean Genet, to be performed by MCCC Theatre students December 5-6 at the college’s Studio Theatre. (Photo by Abigail Acolia)

Desires of a Criminal, a Mercer County Community College (MCCC) student performance that will soon move to a national stage, will be presented for three nights only, December 5-7, on MCCC’s West Windsor Campus.

Desires of a Criminal, a Devised Theatrical Collage, a thought-provoking original play, will be performed at the college’s Studio Theatre, adjacent to Kelsey Theatre on MCCC’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. All shows are at 7:30 p.m.

Entirely researched and crafted by the students from scratch, Desires of a Criminal is inspired by French playwright, poet, and novelist Jean Genet, who was a petty criminal in his youth and spent time in jail before being discovered by some well-known writers who lobbied for his release. According to MCCC Theatre, Dance, and Entertainment Technology Coordinator Jody Gazenbeek-Person, the production addresses issues regarding mass incarceration, and presents the message in a non-linear progression. more

UNHOLY TRINITY: Two Christmas Eves after Dickens’ famous tale, conspirators Fred (Chris Capitolo, left), Jeremiah Marley (James Cordingley, center), and Bob Cratchit (Ken Ammerman) consider what terrors the night may hold in ActorsNET’s “The Christmas Carol Conspiracy: Scrooge’s Revenge,” which runs December 6-22 at the Heritage Center Theatre, 635 North Delmorr Avenue, Morrisville, Pa. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. For tickets and more information, call (215) 295-3694 or email

You may know the familiar tale of A Christmas Carol —three spirits visit miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and inspire him to change his ways — but what if it was all a hoax? A scam? A fraud?

That’s the premise behind ActorsNET’s staging December 6–22 of Joe Doyle’s comedic holiday farce, The Christmas Carol Conspiracy: Scrooge’s Revenge. In this version, a year after the familiar story, Scrooge learns his Nephew Fred and the Cratchits used actors and stage effects to trick him into becoming kind and generous. When word leaks out of the ruse, Scrooge finds himself the laughingstock of London and vows to get revenge. more

CHILD-FRIENDLY “NUTCRACKER”: Shannon Garlotti and Mother Ginger Dancers perform in the Dance Connection’s one-hour version of the holiday classic, at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre on December 13 at 7 p.m. and December 14 and 15 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The fully narrated and abridged ballet is danced entirely by children and teens, and is designed to be enjoyed by every member of the family.

Dolls and sweets come to life and mice and toy soldiers do battle in the Dance Connection’s child-friendly version of the holiday classic The Nutcracker at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) Kelsey Theatre.

Performances are December 13 at 7 p.m. and December 14 and 15 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Kelsey Theatre is located on MCCC’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road.

The Dance Connection’s one-hour version of this fully narrated and abridged Tchaikovsky ballet is danced entirely by children and teens, and is designed to be enjoyed by every member of the family. At the conclusion of the show, families are invited on stage to meet their favorite characters, who will be available to sign autographs. more

“MURDER IN THE 4-0”: Former New York Times photojournalist Edwin J. Torres captured images in the wake of tragedy in New York City, along with residents of the same community enjoying their everyday lives. Both sides come together in the photo exhibit, on display at Mercer County Community College’s James Kerney Campus Gallery in Trenton through January 20.

Balancing tragedy and sadness with joy is the focus of “Murder in the 4-0,” an exhibit by former New York Times photojournalist Edwin J. Torres, at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) through January 20.

“This show is actually two-bodies of work made simultaneously,” said Michael Chovan-Dalton, JKCG director. “One was assigned and the other was done for personal reasons. It is a great example of how powerful the photographic document still is in shaping our perception of place and people.”

Torres notes that while he was working for the New York Times, he was assigned a year-long project documenting how crime persisted in New York City in spite of record low crime rates. The project required him to document each and every homicide in the neighborhood where he grew up, a task that took an emotional toll. more

Sponsored by Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS), professional and amateur photographers alike are encouraged to take their best shot of all that the Mountain Lakes Preserve has to offer, and submit a photo to the Give Thanks for Nature Photo Contest for a chance to win a $100 REI gift card courtesy of REI Princeton and FOPOS. Additional prizes include a $50 REI gift card (second place) and $25 REI gift card (third place). Entries must be submitted by midnight, December 31, 2019, via email to, with “2019 Photo Contest” in the subject line. Winners will be contacted by January 30, 2020. For questions, contact (Photo by Samuel Vovsi)

ITALIAN TRADITIONS: “We are family-owned and operated, and we want to offer people a memorable dining experience. Everything is high quality, and we have special family recipes and the freshest ingredients.” Beniamino (left) and Alison Iovine, owners of Beniamino’s Cucina & Pizza, are shown with pizza expert Alex Iovine, known as the “Pizza Man.”

By Jean Stratton

Italian food is a favorite — and surely not just in Italy! It is on everyone’s menu, and whether it is served at home or in a restaurant it is always welcome.

“People love Italian food because it tastes good and is comforting. It’s ‘feel good’ food!” says Alison Iovine, co-owner and front end manager of Beniamino’s Cucina & Pizza. “It is also healthy, with fresh ingredients, focusing on the Mediterranean diet, with lots of vegetables. We are so happy to share our great menu with customers.”

And, lots of enthusiastic customers are enjoying lunch and dinner at the new restaurant, which opened at the Montgomery Center, 1325 Route 206 North, in July.

Owners Beniamino and Alison Iovine are delighted with the response. “We are very encouraged, and so pleased that everyone is enjoying coming here. We already have lots of regular and repeat customers. Once they come in, they always come back!” more

MAG FORCE: Princeton University women’s volleyball player Maggie O’Connell, right, blasts the ball in recent action. Senior star O’Connell helped Princeton defeat Yale 3-1 (25-23, 21-25, 26-24, 25-15) on November 22 in a playoff match for the Ivy League’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Tigers, now 17-7 overall, will be playing at 11th-seeded Penn State (24-5) on December 6 in the opening round of the NCAA tourney. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications

By Justin Feil

One of the greatest players in Princeton University women’s volleyball history is winding down her career.

Maggie O’Connell is looking for a signature win to cap it when the Tigers, 17-7, play at 11th-seeded Penn State, 24-5, on December 6 in the first round of the NCAA Championships.

“That would be amazing,” said senior star O’Connell, a 6’4 native of Katy, Texas.

“Our first goal is always to win the Ivy League, but all four years, it’s been the goal to get past the first round of NCAAs. We have to play good clean Princeton volleyball and rise to the occasion. We have to have every single person on the team believe it and buy in. It would be a pretty big upset. We like to train with an underdog attitude. This provides us the opportunity to see how tough we can be.”

O’Connell has been a part of one of the most successful classes in Princeton volleyball history. This is the third NCAA appearance in four years for the Class of 2020 which also includes Jessie Harris, Devon Peterkin and Natasha Skov. Three of the four have started every year of their college careers. more

BREAKING THROUGH: Princeton University men’s basketball player Richmond Aririguzoh fights to the hoop in recent action. Senior center Aririguzoh had 16 points and pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds in a 67-65 loss to Arizona State on November 26. Four days later, Aririguzoh contributed 15 points and seven rebounds to help Princeton defeat Bucknell 87-77 and earn its first win of the season. The Tigers, now 1-5, play at Drexel on December 4 before hosting Monmouth on December 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Richmond Aririguzoh was ready to throw his weight around as the Princeton University men’s basketball team hosted Arizona State last week.

“I know ASU is a physical team; of the five games we have played, they are the fourth team we have played that is very physical, said the 6’9, 230-pound center Aririguzoh who hails from Ewing.

“It has been trial by fire for me, playing against physical bigs. My mentality today was OK, I have to go get them.”

Aririguzoh got the ball a lot against the Sun Devils in the November 26 contest, tallying 16 points and pulling down a career-high 18 rebounds.

“It was just one of those things where I was trying to do everything I could to help my team win,” said Aririguzoh, reflecting on his performance.

Unfortunately, Princeton didn’t pull out a win against ASU, despite a dramatic last-minute rally that saw it overcome a 64-60 deficit on a three-pointer by sophomore Drew Friberg and a sweet bucket in the post by freshman Tosan Evbuomwan only to be foiled when Khalid Thomas nailed a three from the corner with five seconds left to give the Sun Devils a 67-65 win. more

IN THE ZONE: Hun School football player Ian Franzoni races up the field this fall. Senior running back and Brown commit Franzoni had a huge final campaign for the Raiders, gaining 1,178 yards rushing on 87 attempts for an average gain of 13.5 yards a carry. He ran for 12 touchdowns and also made 12 receptions for 322 yards and four TDs. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Ian Franzoni was primed to assume a leading role this fall for the Hun School football team.

After paying his dues the previous three seasons as the backup to star running back Josh Henderson, now playing for the University of North Carolina, Franzoni stepped into the starting tailback spot for the season opener at Cheshire Academy (Conn.) in early September.

In a sign of things to come, Franzoni piled up more than 300 yards total offense against Cheshire, including kick returns, rushing, and receiving as the Raiders rolled to a 44-7 win.

A week later, Franzoni showed that his opening salvo was no fluke, rushing for 275 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries in the victory as Hun routed Canada Prep 50-8. more

MAC ATTACK: Princeton Day School boys’ hockey player Drew McConaughy chases down the puck in a game last winter. Junior forward McConaughy figures to be a key offensive threat for the Panthers this season. PDS opens its 2019-20 campaign on December 4 by facing St. Joe’s Prep School (Pa.) at the University of Pennsylvania 1923 Rink. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the graduation of its big three of star forwards — Coby Auslander and Ty Eastman along with standout defenseman Chip Hamlett — there will be new faces in new places this winter for the Princeton Day School boys’ hockey team.

“We are definitely going to have a young group, we have 12 new players,” said PDS head coach Scott Bertoli, who led the Panthers to a 14-12-1 record last winter.

“It is a group that is buying into what we are doing. The kids are excited, they are eager, and they want to learn.”

PDS opens its 2019-20 campaign on December 4 by facing St. Joe’s Prep School (Pa.) at the University of Pennsylvania 1923 Rink, resulting in a steep learning curve for the young Panthers. more

READY TO ROCK: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Rocco Salvato controls the puck in action last winter. Senior star Salvato is looking to have a big final campaign for PHS. The Tigers, who will be guided by new head coach Joe Bensky, are scheduled to face Lawrence High on December 4 at Mercer County Park in their first game of the 2019-20 season. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Joe Bensky has spent a lot of time around Colonial Valley Conference (CVC) hockey.

He starred for the WW/P-North boys’ hockey team from 2009-12 and later served as an assistant coach for the WW/P coop squad in the 2017-18 season.

Now Bensky is taking on a big role with another CVC program as he is taking the helm of the Princeton High boys’ hockey program, succeeding Tim Chase as the head coach of the team.

When Bensky, who played club hockey at East Stroudsburg University and The College of New Jersey and works as school counselor at Ewing High, found out that he got the PHS job, he was elated.

“I was really, really excited, I knew they were a pretty talented group,” said Bensky, who is taking over a team that went 14-10-3 last winter, advancing to the Mercer County Tournament final and the quarterfinals of the state Public B tourney. more

KENNEDY ADMINISTRATION: Hun School basketball player Kennedy Jardine dribbles the ball in a game last season. Junior guard Jardine figures to be a go-scorer for the Raiders this winter. Hun was slated to open its 2019-20 campaign this week by hosting Germantown Friends (Pa.) on December 3 and then playing at the St. Luke’s School (Conn.) on December 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

There is a good vibe around the Hun School girls’ basketball team as it gets ready to tip off its 2019-20 campaign.

“We have had a couple of scrimmages and the girls have played extremely well,” said Hun head coach Bill Holup, who led the Raiders to a 9-14 record last winter and is in his 21st season guiding the program. “They are very positive and upbeat.”

Holup is expecting a positive contribution from junior star guard Kennedy Jardine as she has refined her game.

“Kennedy is stronger and better; she is looking to attack the basket more,” said Holup, whose team tips off the season this week by hosting Germantown Friends (Pa.) on December 3 and then playing at the St. Luke’s School (Conn.) on December 7.

“She still has her three-point shot but she has really expanded her game. Her ball handling is good. In the past, she pretty much stayed on the perimeter. It is good to be more than one-dimensional.” more

X-MAN: Hun School boys’ basketball player Xander Alvarado gets the ball upcourt in a game last winter. Senior point guard Alvarado will be counted on to trigger the Hun offense this winter. The Raiders were slated to tip off their 2019-20 season by hosting the Haverford School (Pa.) on December 3 and then playing at St. Benedict’s Prep on December 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jon Stone is dealing with a problem regarding his Hun School boys’ basketball team this winter that would be the envy of many coaches.

“It is a little unique this year, I have 11 guys who can play, there are definitely some interchangeable positions,” said Hun head coach Stone, who is in his 20th season at the helm of the program and guided the Raiders to an 11-14 record last winter. “We are just incredibly deep. Figuring out the rotation is going to be my biggest challenge without a doubt.”

Hun’s rotation boasts four returning guards in senior Xander Alvarado, senior Liam Gunnarson, senior Dylan Knight, and sophomore Daniel Vessey. more

B-LINE: Stuart Country Day School basketball player Nia Melvin heads upcourt in a 2018 game. Junior guard Melvin, who has helped Stuart win state Prep B titles in her first two seasons with the program, has emerged as a key leader for the squad. The Tartans open their 2019-20 season by hosting Kings Christian on December 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While bombing three-point shots has become a predominant focus at all levels of basketball in recent years, the Stuart Country Day School basketball team will be employing a bit of an old school approach this season.  more

November 27, 2019

A Teddy Bear Clinic, where children could bring their favorite stuffed toy for a checkup, was just one of the many activities at a community celebration at Princeton Medical Center on Sunday to mark the 100-year anniversary of Penn Medicine Princeton Health. The original Princeton Hospital first opened on November 24, 1919. Participants share what the hospital has meant to them or the community in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Erica M. Cardenas)

By Donald Gilpin

Originally established in 1975 with a mission ”to preserve and maintain the quality of life and the integrity of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood,” the Witherspoon-Jackson Development Corporation (WJDC) has been an increasingly active force in the community over the past three years since its revival in 2016 after a long period of dormancy.

In its annual Report to the Neighborhood on Saturday, November 23 at the First Baptist Church, WJDC President Yina Moore reviewed the organization’s accomplishments during the past three years before a gathering of about 40 in the basement community room.

With the help of $1.25M granted and paid out in installments from Princeton University as part of a 2016 property tax lawsuit settlement, the WJDC has been able to fulfill its charge of “aiding and facilitating housing and related needs of economically disadvantaged residents” in the W-J district.

Moore cited the WJDC’s focus on housing assistance (property taxes, mortgage and rental payments, and other expenses), neighborhood restorations  (repairs, maintenance, renovations, and other improvements), and economic development (zoning, planning, mentoring, and further business development). more