September 6, 2023

By Donald Gilpin

Cecilia X. Birge

Cecilia X. Birge is starting the 2023-24 school year as the new Princeton High School (PHS) principal, following her official appointment on Thursday, August 31 by the Princeton Board of Education (BOE) in approving the recommendation of Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Superintendent Carol Kelley.

An assistant principal at PHS since 2020 and a teacher of mathematics and special education before that, Birge, who lives on Leigh Avenue in Princeton, brings to the job a diverse background and a wide range of experiences in finance, business, and municipal government, as well as education.

“During the selection process, Ms. Birge showcased her exceptional leadership qualities, along with her deep commitment to the success of all students, her passion for education, and her respect for the entire Princeton High School community,” said Kelley. “For these reasons I know she will be successful as the next principal of Princeton High School.” more

By Anne Levin

South Brunswick Police and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are asking residents and businesses if they have any recorded video footage related to the fatal helicopter crash last Thursday that took the life of a 44-year-old man.

Pilot Josef Yitzhak, an Israeli, had taken off from Princeton Airport in a single-engine Robinson R22 in the late afternoon when he crashed into the woods and landed in a stream off of Lakeview Avenue, on the border of Princeton and South Brunswick Township.  more

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber addressed the members of Princeton’s Class of 2027 at the University’s Opening Exercises on Sunday, September 3, urging them to look forward to “transformation” as an important part of their education over the next four years.

In the annual ceremony that culminates a week of orientation activities and marks the start of the academic year, Eisgruber noted that “transformative” is the word he hears most often when talking to Princeton alumni about their education. more

FROM SHAKESPEARE TO MORRISON: The sign for the famed Paris bookshop Shakespeare and Company, left, and the original cover art for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby” are among the rare items on display in a new exhibit at the Milberg Gallery of Princeton University Library.

By Anne Levin

Seven years after William Shakespeare died in 1616, his friends gathered the scattered texts of 36 of his plays into a folio edition. Among them: Macbeth, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, and The Winter’s Tale — classics that would have been lost to posterity if not for the friends’ efforts.

Three copies of that “First Folio of 1623” are among the literary treasures on view at “In the Company of Good Books: From Shakespeare to Morrison,” at Princeton University Library’s Milberg Gallery through December 10. Along with the plays of Shakespeare, the exhibition includes representations of works by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Sylvia Beach, Chinua Achebe, and several others, up until the time of Toni Morrison. more

KITTY RESCUE: Saving kittens in the wild, or sometimes even pursuing them into a dumpster, is just one of many different jobs that Princeton Animal Control Officer Jim Ferry performs in a day’s work of caring for Princeton’s residents and its domestic and wild animals. (Photo courtesy of Jim Ferry)

By Donald Gilpin

Jim Ferry, Princeton animal control officer (PAC) since 2018, has been training for this job since he was a young boy growing up with his family in the Ozark Mountains in north central Arkansas, where he interacted closely with nature and wildlife almost every day.

His family lived in a wooded area at the end of a three-quarter-mile-long driveway. “Growing up in the Ozarks, I believed in being one with nature,” he said. “There is no animal control out in Arkansas, so if you had an issue with an animal on your property or nearby, you had to handle it by yourself.” more

By Anne Levin

Becky Libourel Diamond

Becky Libourel Diamond was already at work on The Gilded Age Cookbook when the HBO series The Gilded Age debuted in January 2022. With season two of the show set to air October 29, the release of Diamond’s book, about which she will speak Thursday, September 7 at 7 p.m. in Princeton Public Library’s Community Room, couldn’t be timelier.

“I’m so excited they renewed the show. It’s a coincidence, but the timing turns out to be perfect,” said Diamond, who is the author of two other books related to two of her passions: food and history. “I’ve always been into food. And there is so much we can learn about history from food,” she said. “What did people eat back then, and why?”

Diamond’s mother, grandmother, and all of her aunts went to school for home economics, so her interest in food-related subjects isn’t surprising. A native of Burlington County, she majored in journalism at Rider University and earned a master’s degree in library science from Rutgers. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Now I will do nothing but listen,
To accrue what I hear into this song….

—Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

It’s broad daylight, I’m driving in rush hour traffic, and my eyes are tearing up because of a song called “Sleeping” from the Band’s third album, Stage Fright (1970). In his liner notes, Rob Bowman calls it “a gorgeous ballad” that Richard Manuel co-wrote with Robbie Robertson. But “gorgeous” doesn’t do it justice, nor does PopShifter’s Paul Casey when he calls it a “desperately sad song,” Manuel’s goodbye to the Band “and Robbie’s goodbye to his friend,” who died in Florida 16 years later by his own hand. Casey finds it “hard to separate Richard’s bad end from the songs he worked on,” and this one “was the end of the line, and addresses the oncoming void openly.”

That dark reading misses the emotional and poetical magnitude of the song. My excuse for turning to Walt Whitman at this point is that while reading Leaves of Grass and listening to Stage Fright late the other night, I sensed that Walt must have had “Sleeping” in mind when writing section 26 from Song of Myself, with its reference to the violoncello as “the young man’s heart’s complaint” and to the way the “key’d cornet … shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and breast” while the orchestra “wrenches such ardors from me I did not know I possessed them.”


On Friday, September 15 at 8 p.m., the Princeton Folk Music Society presents Castlebay, its first concert of the 2023-24 season. Live at Christ Congregation Church and also livestreamed, the duo of Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee weave together the music of New England and the Celtic lands on Celtic harp, guitar, fiddle, and tin whistle. The church is at 50 Walnut Lane. Tickets are $5-$25. Masks are required. Visit for more information. (Photo courtesy of Castlebay@Castlebay)

That’s what Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood do in “Scared Scriptless,” coming to the State Theatre New Jersey, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, on Saturday, September 16 at 8 p.m. The duo team has been a success on Comedy Central and “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and they include a lot of audience participation in their show. For more information and tickets, visit

George Street Playhouse of New Brunswick has announced its schedule for the 2023-2024 season. The theater is located at 9 Livingston Avenue.

First up is The Pianist, which has been directed and adapted for the stage by Emily Mann. It is based on the book The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman and has an original score by Iris Hand. Dates are September 26-October 22.

Mann’s play Having Our Say, which is directed by Laiona Michelle, is on stage from November 28-December 17. Next is Ibsen’s Ghost, by Charles Busch, directed by Carl Andress, January 16-February 4. The Club by Chris Bohjalian and directed by David Saint, runs February 27-March 17. The season concludes with Tick, Tick Boom!, April 23-May 19. Book, music, and lyrics are by Jonathan Larson.

For tickets and specific dates, visit

“GOT WATER”: This photograph by Dennis Davis is featured in “Our Knowledge is Power: The Cultures of Beauty and Survival in Isle de Jean Charles, LA and Shishmaref, AK,” his joint exhibition with Chantel Comardelle, on view at the Arts Council of Princeton September 9 through September 30. An opening reception is on Saturday, September 9 from 3-5 p.m.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) will present “Our Knowledge is Power: The Cultures of Beauty and Survival in Isle de Jean Charles, LA and Shishmaref, AK,” an exhibition of powerful photography by Chantel Comardelle and Dennis Davis, September 9 through September 30 in the Taplin Gallery. An opening reception is on Saturday, September 9 from 3-5 p.m.

On Friday, September 22 from 4-7 p.m., the ACP and Princeton University’s High Meadows Environmental Institute will host Comardelle and Davis in person for an artist talk in the Taplin Gallery. The evening will include a film screening of Preserving our Place: Our Knowledge is Power, a 13-minute film — directed by Jeremy Lavoi and produced by Comardelle, Davis, and Elizabeth Marino — sponsored by NSF Award #1929145: Adaptations to Repetitive Flooding: Understanding Cross Cultural and Legal Possibilities for Long Term Flooding Risks.


“MINDSCAPES UNVEILED”: Shown is one of the 3D printed prescription bottle hybrid forms that will be featured in Chanika Svetvilas’ exhibition at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University September 8-28. (Courtesy of Chanika Svetvilas)

Princeton’s Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts will present “Mindscapes Unveiled,” an exhibition by the Lab’s 2022-23 Artist-in-Residence Chanika Svetvilas. The exhibition is a culmination of Svetvilas’ year-long project, “Anonymous Was the Data,” which uplifts the individual lived experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have a mental health difference or condition through mapping their survey data about health care access and stigma.

The work will be on view September 8 through 28 in the Hurley Gallery at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. A talk with the artist and opening reception will be held September 14 with a virtual panel discussion on September 21. The exhibition centers accessibility and a range of access services will be provided. All events are free and open to the public.  more

“FOX ON CROSSWICKS CREEK”: This painting by Margaret Simpson is part of “Water, Woods, and Wonder,” on view at the Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury through September 28. An opening reception is on September 17 from 1-3 p.m.

Gourgaud Gallery, located in Cranbury Town Hall, 23-A North Main Street, Cranbury, presents “Water, Woods, and Wonder” by local artist Margaret Simpson through September 28. An opening reception is on Sunday, September 17 from 1-3 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

Simpson is an award-winning artist who exhibits at local venues from Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa., to D&R Greenway in Princeton, and south to the Jersey shore. She teaches Art of Watercolors weekly at the West Windsor Senior Center. In addition, she has led several “Art in the Marsh” sessions for Friends for the Abbott Marshlands and serves on their executive board.


STANDING TALL: Princeton University football star offensive lineman Jalen Travis catches his breath between plays in a game last year. The 6’9, 315-pound Travis has emerged as a force at tackle for Princeton, earning 2022 second-team All-Ivy League honors as a junior and getting named to the 2024 Senior Bowl Watchlist and East-West Shrine Bowl 1000 list heading into this fall. Travis and the Tigers kick off the 2023 campaign by playing at the University of San Diego on September 16. (Photo by Sideline Photos, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

As Jalen Travis headed into high school in 2016, it looked like his athletic future would center on basketball.

One of his older brothers, Reid, played hoops at Stanford and Kentucky and is currently playing pro ball overseas while another older brother, Jonah, starred for the Harvard men’s basketball team.

But as Travis went through DeLaSalle High in Minneapolis, Minn., he grew into a standout offensive lineman in football, earning first-team All-State and Minnesota All-Star honors as a senior. That success had Travis turning his focus to someday playing in the NFL.

Attracting attention from major college football programs, including getting an offer from local Big 10 power University of Minnesota, Travis decided that heading to Princeton and the Ivy League was his best option on and off the field.


CATCHING ON: Princeton High senior receiver Remmick Granozio heads upfield in recent action. Last Saturday, Granozio made three receptions for 41 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown catch, in a losing cause as PHS lost 14-7 to Riverside to move to 1-1. The Tigers will look to get back on the winning track when they host Haddon Township on September 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Remmick Granozio dabbled in flag football as a middle schooler, playing in the Princeton Junior Football League.

Once Granozio got to Princeton High in 2020, however, he poured his athletic efforts into basketball, developing into a threat from the perimeter as a sharp-shooting guard.

Heading into his senior year at PHS, Granozio decided to give tackle football a try at the urging of his friends who convinced him to join the Tiger squad.

“Running back Tyler Goldberg reached out and got me to come out here,” said Granozio. “I had focused on basketball; this is my senior year and I wanted to come out here. These guys work super hard every day.”

Impressing the PHS football coaching staff with his work ethic, Granozio has emerged as a key option at wide receiver.

In the Tigers’ season-opening 20-0 win at Lawrence High on August 25, Granozio sparkled in his gridiron debut, making three receptions for 18 yards. more

KNOW HOW: Princeton High girls’ soccer player Holly Howes, left, kicks the ball in a game last year. Senior forward Howes figures to be a go-to finisher for PHS this season. The Tigers open their 2023 season by playing at Allentown on September 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With a number of freshmen and sophomores being pressed into service last fall, the Princeton High girls’ soccer team went through an up-and-down campaign.

PHS got off to an 8-2-2 start but faded down the stretch to end the season with an 8-8-2 record.

Looking ahead to the 2023 season, Tiger head coach Dave Kosa believes that taking those lumps will pay dividends this fall.

“The year of growth hopefully will help us because we had four or five freshmen that started last year for us,” said Kosa whose team kicks off the fall by playing at Allentown on September 7. “We are just hoping that experience will pay off for us this year. We have a lot of talent on the roster but we are still young. It is just a matter of everyone meshing together and understanding their roles.”


RISING TO THE CHALLENGE: Princeton High boys’ soccer player Nick Matese leaps over a foe to get the ball in 2022 action. Sense defender Matese will be spearheading the PHS back line this fall. The Tigers, who will be guided by new head coach Ryan Walsh after Wayne Sutcliffe stepped down after a legendary 26-year tenure, start their 2023 season by hosting Allentown on September 7. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With Wayne Sutcliffe having stepped down from coaching Princeton High boys’ soccer team this spring to end a 26-year tenure that featured two state titles, it will be the start of a new era for the program this fall.

But as longtime assistant coach Ryan Walsh succeeds his boss, he vows that things will be pretty much the same around the team. more

HEADS UP: Princeton Day School boys’ soccer player Todd Devin heads the ball in a game last fall. Junior Devin’s skill set will be a big asset this fall for PDS. The Panthers open their 2023 season by playing at Lawrenceville School on September 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With 12 seniors having departed from last season’s squad due to graduation, the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team will have a radically different look this fall.

While PDS head coach Brian Thomsen will miss the program’s Class of 2023, he is looking forward to seeing the new faces seize opportunity. more

By Justin Feil

The Hun School football team will put its two-year unbeaten streak on the line when it kicks off the 2023 season at high noon on September 9 by hosting Mastery High School of Camden.

The Raiders will take to the field after graduating three-year starting quarterback Marco Lainez III, now a freshman at Iowa, as well as most of their offensive line — Zach Aamland (Illinois), Logan Howland (Oklahoma), Brian Ingram (Williams), and Cole Morgan (Michigan). Hun, though, remains optimistic that its depth and some new additions are enough to continue its winning ways. Hun looked good in a preseason scrimmage on Friday against Brunswick School. more

August 31, 2023

By Anne Levin

A man was killed Thursday afternoon, August 31, in a helicopter crash in South Brunswick, near the Princeton border. The crash happened near Route 27, Euclid Avenue, and Academy Street. The helicopter had taken off from Princeton Airport on Route 206 in Montgomery.

According to Lt. Gene Rickle of the South Brunswick Police Department, it appears that the man was the only victim of the incident.

“At about 4:25 p.m. this afternoon, we got multiple calls from people, including a captain with the fire department in town, regarding a helicopter that appeared to be having some problems,” Rickle said. “We dispatched a unit, and the fire captain managed to locate a helicopter that had crashed in a remote body of water in Kingston. When we approached, we were able to see part of the operator submerged in the water, still inside the helicopter. We were able to get him out. They brought him to shore, and checked his injuries, which were severe, and he was later pronounced dead at the scene.”

The man’s identity has not been released.

“As this remains under investigation, and until we can confirm his identity and make contact with his next of kin, we are not releasing information other than saying it was a male,” Rickle said.


On Friday morning, September 1, Rickle issued an email stating that the pilot has been identified as Josef Yitzhak, age 44, of Israel.

South Brunswick Police worked with the Israeli Consulate and Israeli police to notify his family overnight.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the cause of the crash.


Cecilia Birge, Princeton High School (PHS) assistant principal since 2020, will be recommended by Princeton Public Schools Superintendent Carol L. Kelley to be the next PHS principal.

Kelley announced the selection in an August 30 email to the PHS community. Birge, whose appointment is expected to be approved by the PPS Board of Education at a special virtual meeting today, August 31 at 6 p.m., will succeed Frank Chmiel, who was dismissed in March of this year. Kathie Foster has served as PHS interim principal since April.

“After careful consideration of community input from surveys, listening to our staff, and a rigorous interview committee process, I am pleased to share that I will be recommending Cecilia Birge as the next principal of Princeton High School,” Kelley wrote in her announcement.

She continued, “During this selection process, Ms. Birge showcased her exceptional leadership qualities, along with her deep commitment to the success of all students, her passion for education, and her respect for the entire Princeton High School community. For these reasons, I know she will be successful as the next principal of Princeton High School.”

Community members are invited to attend the BOE special virtual meeting on August 31 at 6 p.m. through the Zoom link on the PPS website at

August 30, 2023

A student is greeted at the check-in for Class of 2027 students at the Lewis Center for the Arts Forum on Friday. Fall term classes begin on September 5. Newcomers share what they look forward to studying in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Sarah Teo)

THE SHOW GOES ON: When a bomb threat forced evacuation of the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice on Saturday morning, the Drag Queen Story Hour moved down Mercer Street to a nearby stoop, where Carrie Dragshaw (in foreground on steps at right) carried on her reading as children and families listened. The Princeton Police Department scoured the BRCSJ headquarters and surrounding area. No explosives were found. (Photo by Robert Zurfluh)

By Donald Gilpin

A bomb threat on Saturday morning, August 26, at the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice (BRCSJ) on Stockton Street forced about 50 participants at the Drag Queen Story Hour gathering to evacuate the building.

Police searched the building as event headliner Carrie Dragshaw (Dan Clay) moved down the street to a nearby stoop, and the performance and dialogue took place in shortened form with children and adults sitting and standing on the sidewalk and grass alongside Mercer Street. 

The Princeton Police Department (PPD) reported, “A canine sweep of the building and surrounding area was completed, and no explosive devices were found.” The Detective Bureau is conducting a follow-up investigation into the case.

A PPD press release noted that at 10:49 a.m. on Saturday they received an email communication from an unknown author containing “derogatory remarks aimed at LGBTQIA members and those affiliated with the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice.” The email also stated that numerous explosive devices had been placed in and around the BRCSJ headquarters. more

By Anne Levin

Two dedicated vegans intent on promoting the benefits of a plant-based diet have chosen Princeton as the inaugural location for a competition that involves local chefs and local diners.

The Vegan Chef Challenge starts Saturday, September 1 and runs through the end of the month. During that time, chefs from more than 17 restaurants — including Mediterra, Nomad Pizza, Planted Plate, Tipple + Rose Tea Parlor, and Jammin’ Crepes — will vie for diners’ votes on favorite plant-based menu options created for the competition. The winners will be announced in October.

In the process, organizers Steve Fenster and Cherise Daly hope, local diners might decide that veganism is the way to go.

“We find a lot of college towns that have restaurants offering vegan, but Princeton is severely lacking,” said Daly, who lives in the Asbury Park area. “Some restaurants do offer vegan options, but Princeton only got the first [all-vegan] one a year or so ago — Planted Plate.” more

By Donald Gilpin

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling two months ago that prohibited colleges from considering race, ethnicity, and national origin when considering candidates for admission, Princeton University has announced changes in its admissions procedure and has established an ad hoc committee to examine its admissions policies.

The committee’s recommendations are expected by the end of the 2023-24 academic year, according to a University press release. In effect for the current 2023-24 admissions cycle will be new essay prompts in the undergraduate application and new procedures to make the race, ethnicity, and national origin of the applicants unavailable to University personnel.

“The University will be in full compliance with the Supreme Court ruling for the 2023-24 admissions cycle,” said Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber. “But this ruling also comes after a global pandemic and amid a significant expansion of the undergraduate student body. It is a good time to take a broader look and ensure our admissions policies in general are optimally serving the University’s mission.” more

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