November 15, 2023

By Anne Levin

After hearing from more than 30 of the approximately 160 people who signed on to the November 9 public hearing held over Zoom about the proposed Master Plan, the Princeton Planning Board opted to continue the hearing to its next meeting on November 30 before making a decision on whether to vote in favor of the plan.

In the meantime, the Master Plan is the focus of a meeting on Saturday, November 18 of the non-governmental community group Princeton Future, being held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Community Room of Princeton Public Library. The meeting, also available virtually at, is billed as a conversation rather than an opportunity for comments limited to three minutes, as is the format at municipal meetings. more

By Donald Gilpin

Kathie Foster (Princeton Public Schools)

Kathie Foster has been appointed acting superintendent of the Princeton Public Schools beginning November 14, during the leave of absence of Superintendent Carol Kelley, whose resignation goes into effect August 31, 2024.

Foster, who served as interim principal at Princeton High School (PHS) from March through September this year and as the district’s interim assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction from December 2021 through June 2022, was officially appointed acting superintendent by a 9-0 vote of the Board of Education at a special meeting lasting less than 10 minutes on Monday, November 13. She will be paid a per diem rate of $1,100.

“We know Kathie to be a kind leader, a creative problem-solver, and an effective communicator,” the BOE wrote in a November 8 email to the PPS community. “We are confident that Kathie will keep the best interests of all students at the forefront, and that she will provide experienced and steady leadership to all administrators and staff.”

Foster, who served as superintendent of schools in Robbinsville from 2016 until her retirement in 2020, stepped in as PHS interim principal in March just before spring break, following the sudden dismissal of Frank Chmiel. more

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS: A Princeton institution since 1993, Small World Coffee celebrates its 30th anniversary next month with special events and offerings at its Witherspoon Street location, shown here, and its Nassau Street store, as well as several locations throughout town. (Photo courtesy of Small World Coffee)

By Anne Levin

Last September, Small World Coffee co-founder Jessica Durrie read a column in the New York Times about the surgeon general’s report on loneliness in America. The report cited loneliness as an epidemic — more dangerous to health than obesity, smoking 15 cigarettes, or downing six alcoholic drinks in a day.

The column, by Nicholas Kristof, made Durrie profoundly sad. Since its inception three decades ago, Small World has valued the cultivation of community connections as much as the creation of perfect house blends. The 30-year anniversary of the company was coming up, and she knew she had found a theme. more

By Anne Levin

Rian Julka

Five years ago, Rian Julka’s mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Parkinson’s disease (PD). When the pandemic forced the family into lockdown a few years later, Julka — then a middle school student at New York City’s Trinity School — knew that her condition made his family especially compromised.

Julka put together a spreadsheet to help his mother. Through social media, the spreadsheet evolved into a resource for people all over Manhattan who were coping with lockdown. The spreadsheet helped them find what they needed, and post what they could offer others. Word got out, and local press outlets picked up the story. While still in middle school, Julka was recognized for his efforts by Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.

Since then, the family has moved from Manhattan to Princeton. Julka is a junior at The Lawrenceville School.

The spreadsheet became the inspiration for, a website developed by Julka that offers Parkinson’s patients information on medical research, clinical trials, and tips to slow down progression of the disease. The site also sponsors a podcast that is hosted on Apple and Spotify.  more

By Donald Gilpin

“I’ve been here for nine years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said HomeFront Development and Engagement Director Meghan Cubano, reflecting on her organization’s recent work with thousands of local clients who are suffering from hunger and homelessness.

“Want to help? You can help,” was her theme and the headline of a recent HomeFront flier for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, which is currently underway at HomeFront and around the country. HomeFront is offering a variety of different events and opportunities at its Lawrenceville and Ewing locations to get informed and to volunteer over the next few days and into the holiday season.

Cubano described the waiting room at HomeFront’s Lawrenceville headquarters, packed with hungry Central New Jersey families waiting for food. “We’re serving about 200 families in four-hour shifts throughout the week,” she said. “In the past year there have been more than 21,000 visits to our choice food pantry, people looking for groceries, produce, meat, dairy, diapers, baby wipes. It’s really about meeting those basic needs.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

Approaching the “last Beatles’ song,” my first thought is how well the title “Now and Then” fits the occasion. The dominant line, “It’s all because of you,” works for people who have lived more than half a century with the group as I have, as well as our generation’s children and grandchildren, like the 23-year-old who says “I was 1 when George Harrison died” in a November 3 New York Times article about Gen Z Beatles fans on TikTok.

The Romance

In last Sunday’s Times (“At the Heart of the Last Beatles Song, A Love Story”), Ian Leslie views “Now and Then” in the context of the book he’s writing about Lennon and McCartney’s “love story in songs.” While he seems to agree that “their love story is “our love story, too” and that  “their songs still permeate our lives,” Leslie views “Now and Then” as a song based on Lennon’s last words to McCartney in the hallway of the Dakota, “Think about me every now and then, old friend.” However, highlighting the romance inevitably distracts from the fact that the song and the official video with its doctored clips of Beatles “now and then” is being presented to the world as a technologically achieved Beatles reunion. While George Harrison’s searing guitar was the defining force in the 1994 “reunion” that produced “Free As a Bird,” this time it’s Paul who “came up with a slide guitar part played on a lap steel guitar,” according to the liner notes, “in homage to George,” who had dismissed “Now and Then” as “rubbish” when they first tried to work with the demo in the late nineties. more

By Nancy Plum

Princeton Symphony Orchestra returned choral music to its repertory this past weekend with a performance of a newly-reimagined edition of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s popular Requiem. Since Mozart’s untimely death in 1791 left the work incomplete, scholars have attempted to second-guess the composer and provide an alternative completion adhering to Mozart’s intent and historical character. Conductor Rossen Milanov and Princeton Symphony Orchestra brought this rendition of Mozart’s immortal masterpiece to Richardson Auditorium this past weekend, with composer Gregory Spears’ addition of three new movements to the mass for the dead. Joining the Orchestra for Saturday night’s performance (the concert was repeated Sunday afternoon) were four vocal soloists and Westminster Symphonic Choir.

Princeton Symphony Orchestra paired the Requiem with a 21st-century work inspired by a string quartet of Mozart contemporary Franz Joseph Haydn. Caroline Shaw’s 2011 Entr’acte for string orchestra incorporated contemporary musical effects into a classically-structured piece, including passages reminiscent of J.S. Bach. Milanov led the Orchestra in a feathery opening to Shaw’s one-movement work, allowing the music to quickly become powerful while maintaining a lean quality. Concertmaster Basia Danilow and principal cellist Alistair MacRae played an intense duet against relentless pizzicati of the other players, and MacRae’s graceful lute-like playing delicately brought Shaw’s unique and appealing work to a close.  more

HOLIDAY TUNES: Vocalist Morgan James is the soloist at the Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s (PSO) annual Holiday POPS! Concert on December 16 at Richardson Auditorium. Shows are at 3 and 6 p.m.

Vocalist Morgan James joins the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) at the orchestra’s December 16 Holiday POPS! Concert, taking place on December 16 at 3 and 6 p.m. at Richardson Auditorium. Morgan will sing holiday favorites, while the Princeton High School Choir carries the traditional carol sing-along, inviting the audience to join in.

The program includes Steve Allen’s “Cool Yule” and Mariah Carey’s version of “All I Want for Christmas,” plus jazz-infused versions of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Leroy Anderson’s ” Christmas Festival “and “Sleigh Ride” are also included. John Devlin returns to the PSO from West Virginia’s Wheeling Symphony Orchestra to conduct both performances.  more

GATSBY GLAMOUR: Princeton High School’s production of “The Great Gatsby,” adapted by Gary Peterson, is on stage this weekend at the school’s Performing Arts Center on Moore Street.

A stage adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novel The Great Gatsby will be performed by the PHS Spectacle Theatre at Princeton High School’s Performing Arts Center this weekend. Shows are Thursday-Saturday, November 16-18 at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, November 19 at 2 p.m. more

GRAVITY DEFYING: Cirque’s holiday show, coming to New Brunswick’s State Theatre New Jersey, is filled with acrobats, contortionists, and aerialists.

State Theatre New Jersey presents “A Magical Cirque Christmas — A Holiday Variety Show” on Friday, December 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $39-$99. 

This production features world-class acrobats, contortionists, and aerialists performing to a holiday musical score. Featured acts include Jonathan Rinny (rolla bolla, unicycle, juggling performer) and Aryn Shelander (contortionist and aerial foot archer). Rinny is a fourth-generation circus artist. Shelander is trained in Mongolian contortion and is the creator of aerial archery.  more

“FESTIVAL OF TREES”: Morven’s annual winter exhibition is on display through January 7. The museum’s Winter Garden Party fundraiser will take place on Thursday, November 30 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Morven’s annual winter exhibition, “Festival of Trees,” is back now through January 7.  A Princeton holiday tradition, visitors will enjoy the museum’s elegant galleries, mantels, and porches festively decorated for the holidays by local businesses, garden clubs, and nonprofit organizations.

The 2023 “Festival of Trees” decorators include Contemporary Garden Club of Princeton, HomeFront’s SewingSpace Program, Lawrenceville Main Street Landscaping Committee, Mount Laurel Garden Club, Neshanic Garden Club, Nottingham Garden Club of Hamilton Township, Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, Princeton Garden Theatre, SAVE – A Friend to Homeless Animals, Stony Brook Garden Club, The Garden Club of Princeton, The Present Day Club, West Trenton Garden Club, and ToobyDoo Princeton.  more

“PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE”: Hand-painted glass pieces by Karen Caldwell of Sunflower Glass Studio in Stockton are among the works featured in the 29th Annual Covered Bridge Artisans Fall Studio Tour, to be held November 24, 25, and 26.

Held November 24, 25, and 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, the 29th annual Covered Bridge Artisans Fall Studio Tour is a self-guided driving tour located in the Delaware River Valley of lower Hunterdon and Bucks counties. The studio tour will take place in seven professional artists’ studios in the Lambertville, Stockton, Sergeantsville, and Solebury and New Hope, Pa., along with 14 additional artists at the Sergeantsville Firehouse Events Center. All studios are located within five miles of Stockton. Visitors can visit the workshops, shop for distinctive gifts, and learn from each artist about how and where they create their work. 

The idea for the tour started with a group of six area artists 30 years ago. Each was a professional in their craft and worked in  unique, rural, historic studio settings. They decided to create a tour that introduced people to their remote locations and allowed for a direct relationship with the artist. Visitors get the chance to tour the studio, see work in progress, discuss new commissions, and buy finished work.  more

“TREVI FOUNTAIN, ITALY”: This painting by Robert Hazzon is offered in West Windsor Arts’ Annual Off the Wall Holiday Market, running through December 23.

West Windsor Arts presents its annual Off the Wall Holiday Market through December 23, highlighting more than 100 original and affordable artworks and hundreds of handcrafted items made by artisans including jewelry, accessories, ceramics, and one-of-a-kind items for the home.

New this year is a special focus on supporting November as Arts and Health month. Shoppers can encourage healthy hearts with purchases from a special pop-up section of donated artwork.  more

ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE: Internationally renowned artist Ghada Amer is joining the Arts Council of Princeton as a long-term artist-in-residence.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) has announced artist Ghada Amer as a long-term artist-in-residence, working in the studio spaces at the Arts Council to produce a new body of clay and print works.

Amer’s wide-ranging practice spans painting, cast sculpture, ceramics, works on paper, and garden and mixed-media installations. Further, she often collaborates with her longtime friend Reza Farkhondeh. Recognizing both that women are taught to model behaviors and traits shaped by others, and that art history and the history of painting in particular are shaped largely by expressions of masculinity, Amer’s work actively subverts these frameworks through both aesthetics and content. Her practice explores the complicated nature of identity as it is developed through cultural and religious norms as well as personal longings and understandings of the self. more

TUNED IN: Princeton University women’s soccer player Lexi Hiltunen, right, goes after the ball in a game earlier this season. Last Friday night, senior forward Hiltunen scored the lone goal as Princeton defeated Michigan in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Tigers, now 10-5-3, will play at Texas Tech (16-1-4) on November 17 in a second round contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Lexi Hiltunen and Tyler McCamey could feel the pressure rising at opposite ends of the Roberts Stadium pitch.

The Princeton University women’s soccer team’s NCAA tournament first round game Friday against visiting Michigan remained scoreless through the first half and as the clock ticked toward the final 15 minutes of regulation. The Tigers had chances, twice hitting the cross bar, but hadn’t been able to score. more

LAST FLING: Princeton University quarterback Blake Stenstrom fires a pass last Saturday as Princeton hosted Yale. Playing in his final home game as a Tiger, senior Stenstrom connected on 20-of-36 passes for 240 yards and one touchdown in a losing cause as Princeton fell 36-28 to the Bulldogs in double overtime to get knocked out of the Ivy League title race. The Tigers, now 4-5 overall and 3-3 Ivy, play at Penn (6-3, 3-3 Ivy) on November 18 in their season finale. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Blake Stenstrom experienced an emotional roller-coaster as the Princeton University football team hosted Yale last Saturday in his last home game as a Tiger.

The day started with the annual Senior Day ceremony as Stenstrom and his classmate were introduced one by one before the game, escorted by their families onto the field.

“It is really special to play at Princeton, it has been a fantastic experience,” said quarterback Stenstrom, who transferred to Princeton from Colorado. “I think the culture of the team is what stands out, and just the guys who are on it. I am super honored to have been part of Princeton football for three year. I am going to miss the guys and the relationships I have built with them. You can’t put into words just how amazing my experience has been. It has been a blessing and I will miss it for sure.” more

STRONG START: Princeton University men’s basketball player Caden Pierce dribbles upcourt in a recent practice session. Last Friday, sophomore forward Pierce scored a career-high 26 points and had 15 rebounds to help Princeton defeat Hofstra 74-67. He was later named the Ivy League Player of the Week. The Tigers, now 2-0, play at Duquesne on November 15 and at Monmouth on November 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While the Princeton University men’s basketball program lost some key players to graduation from the squad that made a run to the NCAA Sweet 16 last March, the 2023-24 team appears to retained one of the chief qualities that led to that success.

Opening the season on November 6 by topping Rutgers 68-61 in the Jersey Jam at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, the Tigers displayed the resilience that made them so hard to beat last season down the stretch last winter. more

RALLY TIME: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Pasquale Carusone, right, controls the ball as PHS battled Kearny High in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group 4 championship game last Saturday at Franklin High. Senior Carusone scored a second half goal as the Tigers rallied to a 3-2 win over the Kardinals to win their first state title since 2012. It was the fourth state crown for the program. PHS finished the fall with a 22-2 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Six years ago, the Princeton High boys’ soccer team fell to Kearny High 3-1 in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group 4 championship game.

Last Saturday when the two powerhouses clashed in a rematch at this year’s Group 4 final at Franklin High, PHS didn’t waste any time, showing that things could be different in round two. more

GRAND SLAM: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Felipe Matar Grandi goes after the ball in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group 4 final last Saturday at Franklin High. Senior midfielder and co-captain Matar Grandi helped PHS top Kearny 3-2 as the Tigers won their first state title since 2012 and fourth overall. Matar Grandi tallied a goal as PHS topped Washington Township 4-0 in the state semis on last Wednesday to punch its ticket to the final. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Felipe Matar Grandi, some practice made perfect for him as the Princeton High boys’ soccer team hosted Washington Township in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group 4 state semis last Wednesday afternoon.

With PHS leading Washington 1-0 in the second half, senior midfielder and co-captain Matar Grandi got position near the goal and with a ball flying towards him, he leaped up and headed the ball into the back of the net. more

PEARL JAM: Princeton High girls’ volleyball libero Pearl Agel lofts a pass in state tournament action. Last Sunday, junior Agel contributed 11 digs, six service points, and one assist to help PHS defeat Millburn 2-0 (25-21, 25-12) in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group 3 final at Franklin High. The Tigers went 30-1 as they earned the first state crown in program history. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the libero for the Princeton High girls’ volleyball team, Pearl Agel stands out among her teammates as she wears a different color jersey and can only play on the back row under the rules of the sport.

While some may see the position as somewhat thankless with no chance to get the glory of blasting kills at the net, junior Agel relishes doing the dirty work of diving for digs and setting up her teammates. more

RISING TO THE OCCASION: Princeton Day School girls’ soccer player Ella McLaren, left, heads the ball as PDS battled St. John Vianney in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public A South tournament. The Panthers went on to win the South tournament and last Friday and earned the Non-Public A title as they defeated Mount St. Dominic 2-0 in the state final at Franklin High. It was the first-ever Non-Public state title for the program. The Panthers finished the fall at 17-2-3. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Mackenzie Brodel, it was a prayer answered and a dream come true, while Ella McLaren was rendered speechless.

Sophomores Brodel and McLaren played key roles last Friday night as the Princeton Day School girls’ soccer team defeated Mount St. Dominic 2-0 in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public A state final at Franklin High. Brodel scored a goal early in the second half to put PDS up 1-0 and McLaren helped anchor a stingy PDS defense that stifled the high-powered Lion attack.

With the foes locked in a scoreless tie headed into the second half, PDS was determined to break through.

“We were just doing the same thing that we always do,” said Brodel. “We were just looking to get the ball in the back of the net.” more

November 9, 2023

By Donald Gilpin

Two challengers, Eleanor Hubbard and Adam Bierman, and incumbent Beth Behrend have won three available seats on the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE), ousting incumbent Michele Tuck-Ponder and apparently leaving Rene Obregon Jr. a few votes short in unofficial results as of November 9.

Hubbard was the top vote-getter with 4,027 (24.95 percent), followed by Behrend at 3,287 (20.37 percent), Bierman at 3,221 (19.96 percent), Obregon 3,150 (19.52 percent), and Tuck-Ponder 2,454 (15.21 percent).

The unofficial totals so far do not include provisional ballots and some mail-in ballots. The results will not be official until certified by the Mercer County clerk in about two weeks.

Princeton voters have also approved the PPS $13 million facilities bond proposal by a total of 4,143 (70.41 percent) to 1,741 votes as tallied so far.

Princeton has 20,960 registered voters, and 6,950 ballots (33.16 percent) have been cast. In Mercer County the totals were 240,397 registered and 68,945 ballots cast for a 26.48 percent turnout.

In the 16th legislative district race for New Jersey state Senate, incumbent Democrat Andrew Zwicker has defeated his Republican challenger Michael Pappas by 31,955 votes (55.4 percent) to 24,889 (43.1 percent), with Libertarian Richard J. Byrne running a distant third, 850 votes (1.5 percent), with about 98 percent of the votes tallied so far.

With two positions in the state assembly 16th district on the line, incumbent Democrat Roy Freiman and Mitchelle Drulis, also a Democrat, have outdistanced their Republican rivals, Grace Zhang and Ross Traphagen. With about 98 percent of the results in, Freiman has 31,501 votes (27.8 percent), Drulis 30,995 (27.4 percent), Zhang 25,547 (22.5 percent), and Traphagen 25,279 (22.3 percent).

In the race for Mercer County executive, taking the seat of Brian Hughes, who is stepping down at the end of the year after serving in the post for the past 20 years, Democrat Dan Benson coasted to victory with a lead so far of 45,995 (69.40 percent) to 20,283 (30.60 percent) over Republican Lisa Marie Richford.


November 8, 2023

Cows adorned with flowers and bells were celebrated and honored at the Annual Cow Parade at Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrenceville on Saturday afternoon. The tradition comes from the Swiss Alps, when the cows are brought down from the mountains to the lower pastures each autumn, with elaborate decorations. The festival also featured hay rides, kids’ games, face painting, food, music, and local vendors. Attendees discuss their favorite cheese in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

With only six of 22 precincts reporting by press time last night, the outcome of the hotly contested race with two incumbents and three challengers vying for three seats on the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education was uncertain. At press time Eleanor Hubbard had received 1,708 votes, incumbent Beth Behrend 1,532, Adam Bierman 1,378, Rene Obregon Jr. 1,241, and incumbent Michele Tuck-Ponder 1,141.

The unofficial totals so far do not include provisional ballots and some mail-in ballots.

Princeton voters have apparently approved the PPS $13 million facilities bond proposal with a total of 1,908 to 751 votes as tallied at press time.

In the 16th legislative district race for New Jersey state Senate, incumbent Democrat Andrew Zwicker leads his Republican challenger Michael Pappas by 57 percent to 41.6 percent, with Libertarian Richard J. Byrne running a distant third with 1.4 percent out of about 57 percent tallied so far.

With two positions in the state assembly 16th district on the line, incumbent Democrat Roy Freiman, and Mitchelle Drulis, also a Democrat, were leading their Republican rivals Ross Traphagen and Grace Zhang. With about 53 percent of the results in, Freiman had 28.6 percent of the votes, Drulis 28.3 percent, Traphagen 21.5 percent, and Zhang 21.5 percent.

In the race for Mercer County executive, taking the seat of Brian Hughes, who is stepping down at the end of the year after serving in the post for the past 20 years, Democrat Dan Benson seems to be coasting to victory with a lead of 16,590 (82 percent) to 3,489 (17 percent) over Republican Lisa Marie Richford.

In the race for Mercer County sheriff, Democrat John “Jack” Kemler appears to have won a fifth term with 16,459 votes so far, besting Republican Bryan “Bucky” Boccanfuso with 3,292 votes, and Unaffiliated Drew L. Cifrodelli with 273 votes.

The incumbent Democrats on the Mercer County Board of Commissioners also appeared to have held onto their seats, as Lucylle Walter and John Cimino received 16,263 and 16,314 votes respectively to 3,559 and 3,495 votes respectively for their Republican challengers Joseph Stillwell and Denise “Neicy” Turner.

Unopposed Democratic incumbents David Cohen and Leticia Fraga have successfully reclaimed their seats on Princeton Council for a third three-year term.

Update: In unofficial results, Eleanor Hubbard with 3,955 votes, incumbent Beth Behrend with 3,221, and Adam Bierman with 3,181 votes have defeated Rene Obregon Jr., 3,103 votes, and incumbent Michele Tuck-Ponder, 2,399 votes, for three seats on the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.

By Anne Levin

The online meeting of the Planning Board on Thursday, November 9 at 7 p.m. is a chance for members of the public to comment on the proposed rewrite of the Princeton Master Plan. The draft of the document, which was 18 months in the making, was shared with the public at a Planning Board meeting on October 31, but no public comments were taken at that time.

Residents can read the 270-page final draft of the plan online at or engage.princetonmasterplan.orgmore