August 30, 2023

MORE TO OFFER: Thanks to a recent upgrade of its museum, the Thomas Clarke House, central to the Battle of Princeton, covers more information about the pivotal victory that set the American Revolution on the road to success.

By Anne Levin

The 250th anniversary of the American Revolution is more than two years away, but the Princeton Battlefield Society (PBS) is well into preparation mode. A major focus has been the upgrading of the museum inside the historic Thomas Clarke House.

While an invitation-only grand opening is scheduled for Friday, September 8, the Clarke House is currently open to the public and the exhibit is on view.

“The Thomas Clarke House is the only surviving structure from the era of the Battle of Princeton,” said Todd Quackenbush, a board member of PBS. “It is historically important not only because it was a field hospital, and the place where General Hugh Mercer passed away. Over the years, it has been a place where we’ve displayed things to inform people about the battle. It has been many, many years since we’ve had a major upgrade to the displays and materials.” more

By Anne Levin

At a meeting on Monday, August 28, Princeton Council passed resolutions related to possible improvements to Hinds Plaza, Princeton’s deer management program, and parking in the Westminster lot, among other topics. Council also introduced an ordinance related to floodplain management, which will be given a public hearing at the next meeting on September 11.

The resolution authorizing a professional services agreement for conceptual design development of improvements at Hinds Plaza is for the consultants Arterial LLC, not to exceed $32,500. The company has previously provided expertise for the Witherspoon Street Improvement Project in 2020.

Opened in 2004, Hinds Plaza now requires maintenance in its concrete and brick surfacing, among other areas, Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton wrote in a memo to the governing body. She praised Arterial’s practice of soliciting comments from the public as part of their process. Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros expressed similar praise before the unanimous vote was taken. more

BUDDING SCIENTISTS: Princeton High School students Viviana Cristofanilli, standing left, and her twin sister Angelica, standing beside her, ran a Biomedical Immersion Camp for middle schoolers at All Saints’ Church this summer. (Photo courtesy of Viviana Cristofanilli)

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton area students — 11 recognized by Not In Our Town Princeton (NIOT) for promoting racial justice and building inclusivity and two sisters who ran a Biomedical Immersion Camp for middle schoolers this summer — have been making a difference in their communities.

At their 26th annual awards ceremony in June, attended by more than 100 people at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton, NIOT celebrated the eight students and their accomplishments, ranging from lobbying for recognition of the Lunar New Year to the creation of the Diversity Council at Princeton High School (PHS), according to a NIOT press release. more

By Stuart Mitchner

To muse for long unwearied hours with my attention riveted to some frivolous device upon the margin, or in the typography of a book…

—Edgar Allan Poe, from “Berenice”

I love Poe. He’s always there, the shadowy Kilroy of American literature. Last week my attention was “riveted” by the chapter subheaded “Berenice the Barefoot Queen: Revolution” in Jerusalem: The Biography (Knopf 2011). Holding Simon Sebag Montefiore’s 650-page historical epic open in both hands like a gigantic hymnal, I read the first two sentences of the chapter on the Death of Jerusalem AD 66-70, in which barefoot Berenice walked “the same route Jesus would have taken from Herod Antipas back to Pilate thirty years earlier. The beautiful Berenice — daughter and sister of kings and twice a queen — was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to thank God for her recovery from an illness, fasting for thirty days and shaving her head.” In the next chapter, she’s become the “Jewish Cleopatra,” of whom it was said that Titus “had a general murdered for flirting with her.”

According to an online National Library of Israel article titled “The Queen Who Loved the Destroyer of the Second Temple,” Berenice’s pilgrimage had a nobler goal, which was to plead with Florus, the procurator of Judea, for “the lives of the city’s residents.” The article about “a Jewish woman, a queen” whose “dramatic life story might resemble something out of Game of Thrones or House of the Dragon” is accompanied by Queen Berenice, a painting by Charles Landelle (1821-1908). more

AN INSPIRATONAL PROGRAM: Award-winning saxophonist Steven Banks is the soloist for the Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s 2023-24 season September 9 and 10. (Photo by Chris Lee)

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s (PSO’s) 2023-2024 Season opens September 9-10 with Princeton-based composer Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Forward Into Light, inspired by women suffragists, and Henri Tomasi’s Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra, performed by saxophonist Steven Banks. William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, one of the first full-length works by a Black composer to be performed by a major U.S. orchestra, completes the program.

Edward T. Cone Music Director Rossen Milanov conducts the performances which take place Saturday, September 9 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, September 10 at 4 p.m. at Richardson Auditorium. Sunday’s concert includes a pre-concert talk by Milanov at 3 p.m. more

Princeton University’s Music Department presents the Timbuktu Grooves Festival from September 29 – October 1, led by Olivier Tarpaga, a Lester Horton Award-winning choreographer and director of the African Music Ensembles at Princeton since 2017.

The multi-disciplinary festival kicks off with Tarpaga’s humanist piece Once the Dust Settles Flowers Bloom on Friday, September 29, in partnership with McCarter Theatre Center and Seuls en Scène, Princeton French Theater Festival. The piece sheds light on refugees of Burkina Faso and the Sahel region, who were displaced after fleeing from the shadow of jihadists. Seven dancers and five musicians from Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Benin, Morocco, and France will participate. more

Nicole A. Watson

McCarter Theatre Center opens the 2023-2024 theatre series with Eisa Davis’ Bulrusher, a coming-of-age story, in the Berlind Theatre September 13 through October 7. It is a co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where the production will move after its run in Princeton.

“I’m so thrilled for Bulrusher to be opening our season and to have Nicole A. Watson back in the director’s chair after leading the much-loved Blues for an Alabama Sky to great success,” said Artistic Director Sarah Rasmussen. “We couldn’t be more excited to produce this heartfelt and poetic play. The world of this play and its characters will stay with you long after you’ve seen it.”

Bulrusher transports audiences to the predominantly white town of Boonville, nestled in the redwoods of 1955 Calif. Orphaned as an infant and possessing the mystical gift of clairvoyance, Bulrusher feels her small-town world closing in around her, until a mysterious Black girl from Alabama arrives harboring a secret, awakening new discoveries and uncovering old truths. more

“CUPCAKE HOUSES”: Landscape paintings by Michele Farro are on view through the end of September at the Green Building Center in Lambertville.

Located in Lambertville, Green Building Center is a firm specializing in environmentally-responsible materials and methods of building and design. Their space at 67 Bridge Street shares an array of these products and the showroom also displays the work of local artists. The current exhibit, “Cupcake Houses,” features contemporary landscape paintings by artist Michelle Farro. more

MEET THE ARTIST: This work by Gwen Toma is featured in “Plein Air Perspectives,” on view at the Cranbury Public Library through the end of September. Toma will speak at the library on Thursday, August 31 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Cranbury Artist Gwen Toma will appear at the Swanagan Gallery at the Cranbury Public Library in Cranbury on Thursday, August 31 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Toma’s solo multi-media art exhibit, “Plein Air Perspectives,” has been extended through the end of September and will feature a refreshed selection of local, autumnal plein air paintings.  more

“INDIAN ISLAND LIGHT”: This work by Michael Schweigart is featured in “Here and There,” his dual exhibit with Claudia Fouse Fountaine, on view September 7 thorough October 1 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. An opening reception is on September 9 from 4 to 7 p.m.

“Here and There, an exhibit of paintings by Claudia Fouse Fountaine and Michael Schweigart, will be on view at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville September 7 thorough October 1. An opening reception is on Saturday, September 9 from 4 to 7 p.m.

In this exhibit, you can visit Tuscany, the coast of Maine, and other special places as the artists take you on a visual voyage. You’re invited to explore each painting that holds a wealth of experience and memories re-lived throughout the painting process.  more

TORRID START: Princeton University women’s soccer player Pietra Tordin prepares to unload the ball last Sunday against La Salle. Sophomore forward Tordin tallied a goal and two assists in the contest to help the Tigers win 5-0 and improve to 2-0. Tordin, who scored two goals in a 3-0 win over Monmouth in the season opener on Friday, was later named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week. In upcoming action, Princeton hosts Rutgers on August 31 and Army West Point on September 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Coming off a superb debut season for the Princeton University women’s soccer team which saw her win the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Pietra Tordin is feeling a heightened comfort level on the field this year.

“I already know a lot of the girls very well so I think the chemistry is starting to click in,” said forward Tordin, a 5’6 native of Doral, Fla. “It is just getting to know the personnel of the team and knowing how to work with them and work around their skill sets as much as possible.”

Last weekend, Tordin clicked as Princeton opened its 2023 campaign by topping Monmouth 3-0 last Friday and then defeated La Salle 5-0 on Sunday. Tordin scored two goals in the opener and added a goal and two assists in the win over the Explorers. more

HARRY SITUATION: Princeton University men’s soccer player Harry Roberts heads upfield in a game last season. Junior Roberts brings versatility to the Tigers as he can play both forward and defender. Princeton opens its 2023 season by hosting Rutgers on September 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the Princeton University men’s soccer team heads into the 2023 season, it is facing some stern tests from the get-go.

“I think we have the hardest schedule we have ever had — we have six teams in the preseason Top 20 on our schedule,” said Princeton head coach Jim Barlow, whose team hosts Rutgers on September 1 and Duke on September 4 to get the season underway. “We start off with the defending Big 10 champs and the No 4 team in the country on Monday.”

With the Ivy League holding its inaugural postseason tournament this year that will include the top four finishers in the league standings with victor earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, Barlow is hoping that the gauntlet of tough foes will steel his squad for the Ivy League battles ahead. more

AMAZING GRACE: Princeton University field hockey player Grace Schulze, left, controls the ball in a game last fall. Senior forward Schulze, who tallied six goals and 10 assists in 2022, figures to be a key offensive catalyst for the Tigers this fall. Princeton, ranked No. 10 in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) preseason poll, opens its 2023 campaign by facing Louisville on September 1 and the University of North Carolina on September 3, with both games to be played at Ellen Vagelos Field in Philadelphia. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

The Princeton University field hockey team will feature a new look when they take on Louisville on Friday in Philadelphia.

The Tigers have to replace nine starters led by a group of seniors, including 2022 third-leading scorer Sammy Popper (9 goals, 2 assists), that graduated after helping Princeton go 13-5, win the Ivy League and reach the NCAA tournament. Princeton will also be without last year’s top scorer Beth Yeager (12 goals, 8 assists), the 2022 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-American, who is playing with the United States team that is working toward Olympic qualification.  more

SUMMER CAMP: Princeton University women’s hockey player Kate Monihan controls the puck in a 2022 game. Earlier this month, senior defender and team co-captain Monihan skated at the Team USA camp for the U.S. Collegiate Women’s Select Team at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., as part of the USA Hockey Women’s National Festival. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Kate Monihan, playing for the U.S. U18 women’s team in the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championship in Japan was a critical step in her hockey development.

“The things I learned there I came home and immediately brought to my high school team (Lawrenceville School),” said Monihan, who helped the U.S. win a silver medal at the competition. “It was things like moving the puck more quickly in the defensive zone from our defenders to our forwards and different strategies. When you are the U18 team, you are coached by college coaches. I had the opportunity to bring college level knowledge and experience to my high school team and that actually ended up being one of our best seasons at Lawrenceville.” more

OPENING STATEMENT: Princeton High quarterback Travis Petrone fires a pass last Friday night as PHS played at Lawrence High in the season opener for both teams. Junior Petrone connected on 4 of 8 passes for 59 yards and a touchdown in the contest to help the Tigers prevail 20-0. PHS will look to keep on the winning track when it hosts Riverside on September 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Princeton High football team knotted in a scoreless tie at Lawrence High midway through the second quarter last Friday night in the season opener, PHS quarterback Travis Petrone lofted a pass that wobbled towards the end zone.

As the duck fluttered down, Tiger receiver Wyatt Arshan swooped in, snatched the ball out of the air and raced in for a 41-yard touchdown to give PHS a 6-0 lead. more

August 26, 2023

By Donald Gilpin

A bomb threat this morning, Saturday, August 26, at the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice (BRCSJ) on Stockton Street forced about 50 participants in the Drag Queen Story Hour community 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 presentation and dialogue took place in somewhat curtailed form as children and adults sat and stood on the sidewalk and grass alongside Mercer Street.

Police protocols in the building continued, and police were unable to provide any further information as of early Saturday afternoon.

BRCSJ Chief Activist Robt Seda-Schreiber expressed gratitude to the Princeton Police Department for their support. He described the scene shortly before the 11 a.m. scheduled start of the event.

“There were a bunch of families on the back porch and there were folks in the parking lot,” he said.  “That’s when the police officer showed up. Dan [Carrie Dragshaw] was putting his wig on, and I was making sure that everything was ready for this wonderful Drag Queen Story Hour. That’s when they said we had to leave. So, we took a stroll down the street to a neighboring stoop — a fabulous field trip with kids, adults, and families that were with us.”

He added, “We will never give in to any sort of threat from folks who want to try to not allow us to gather in our beloved community as we deserve, as we need to, as we always will. And whatever we need to do we will.” more

August 23, 2023

People and their pets enjoy a walk by the lake at the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve on Saturday. Local residents share how they are inspired by nature in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

The cleanup projects are being completed, and the teachers have been coming in to organize their classrooms. Teachers and staff will be reporting for in-service preparation and meetings next week, and the first day of school for all of the nearly 4,000 Princeton Public Schools (PPS) students is Tuesday, September 5.

“I’m very excited for the school year,” said Johnson Park Principal Angela Siso Stentz. “I’m excited to see our students. We’ve missed them. It’s felt like a long summer, and I’m waiting for them to arrive at our front door. I’m also excited to see my staff next week and to get the school year going.”

“Belonging and Community: Where Every Learner Thrives” is the official district theme for the 2023-24 school year. In a message to PPS  parents, Superintendent Carol Kelley expressed her gratitude for the parents’ support in the education of their children. “The trusting relationships, open communication, and partnerships between you and PPS staff provide the supporting conditions for our students’ success,” she wrote. more

By Anne Levin

Princeton Mayor Mark Freda has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit related to a fatal crash that took place on Route 27 in November 2021. Freda, who is president of the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad (PFARS) and is a volunteer firefighter, was allegedly involved in a chase that took place before the fatal collision.

A teenager from Newark and a woman from Kendall Park were killed in the crash, which involved a Jeep Grand Cherokee, stolen from a home in Pequannock Township and driven by 15-year-old Damajia Horner; and another vehicle driven by Jodi Marcou, a 61-year-old fundraising coordinator at Rutgers University. Both drivers died after the Jeep crossed the yellow lines and collided head-on into Marcou’s Acura near Carnegie Drive. A 14-year-old boy in the Jeep sustained severe injuries. more

By Donald Gilpin

Liberal arts education may be in jeopardy, as colleges around the country announce the elimination of degree programs and massive cuts in faculty positions, but Princeton Adult School (PAS), ready to launch its 85th year with catalogs in the mail this week and fall course registration underway, is bucking the trend. There are 298 courses available for every possible interest.

Want to study sewing literacy and “Get to Know your Sewing Machine”? How about “No Limit, Texas Hold ‘em Poker”?  Or maybe start “Your Second Career: Becoming a Flight Attendant”? Or, on a more scholarly note, “Shakespeare’s Falstaff and Henry IV: the Love-Hate Triangles of Fathers and Sons” or “Nudes: The Naked Truth in Art”?

Language courses, walking tours, fly fishing, computers, media, gastronomy, health, and a host of other traditional fields are also available at PAS.

Or maybe you’ve always wanted to “Discover Ancient Egypt” or “Learn to Read the Tarot”?  Or get on your feet and learn “Ballroom Dance Basics” (waltz, foxtrot, rumba, tango, cha-cha, swing, and more) or experience “An Introduction to Sketch Comedy”? How about exploring “The Power and Pleasure of Fragrancy” and learning about the world of modern perfumery or “Understanding Personality Styles and How it Can Improve Your Personal and Business Relationships” or “Introduction to Glassblowing”? more

LEARNING THEIR CRAFT: Through the Trenton Youth Theater, Trenton Central High School students meet weekly at Princeton University to develop their skills at acting, directing, design, and other aspects of theater-making. The program is part of Trenton Arts at Princeton (TAP), encompassing theater, dance, and music.

By Anne Levin

On Saturday mornings during the school year, 10 students from Trenton Central High School board a bus bound for Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts. For two hours — including breakfast and lunch — these participants in the Trenton Youth Theater (TYT) immerse themselves in all aspects of theater.

Student coaches from the University work with the aspiring actors, directors, and designers to develop their skills. The weekly rehearsals will culminate in a showcase next spring at Richardson Auditorium, marking the fifth anniversary of the Trenton Arts at Princeton Program (TAP), of which Trenton Youth Theater is a branch.

Heading TYT is Faith Iloka, who has the unique distinction of being an alumnus of both Trenton High in 2017, and the University in 2021. Her background, which includes playwrighting and mental health counseling, led TAP to appoint her as artistic director, succeeding former director Jamie Goodwin. more

By Anne Levin

Inspired by the film Oppenheimer, currently playing at the Princeton Garden Theatre and in cinemas across the world, interest in J. Robert Oppenheimer’s years heading the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) has inspired local recollections about the famed physicist, his family, and people affiliated with him.

Among the most recent is a remembrance of Verna Hobson, Oppenheimer’s secretary at the IAS from 1954 to 1966. Hobson and her husband, Wilder Hobson, were friends of the mother of Princeton resident Hank Fairman through much of the 1950s till 1964. The Hobsons lived on Valley Road at Jefferson Road, and the Fairmans lived nearby on Mt. Lucas Road.

“As a young boy, I remember them coming to my mother’s house for evenings of dinner and jazz,” noted Fairman, a novelist and poet who formerly wrote a column on environmental issues for the Princeton Packet. “Verna, a slim, attractive woman, played, surprisingly, the tuba. Wilder played the trombone, and several others, including professional trumpet player John Dengler, joined to perform popular and jazz pieces in the living room of my mother’s house, where she was hostess and gourmet cook.” more

By Donald Gilpin

Starting in September and lasting into mid-October, Hispanic Heritage Month will celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

The Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF) will be hosting a joint Heritage Month celebration and health fair event at St. Mary’s Cathedral, 151 Warren Street in Trenton, on September 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. LALDEF will offer free food, prizes, COVID-19 vaccines, flu and other back-to-school vaccines, and breast cancer screenings, as well as information on resources such as WIC (women, infants, children) services, health insurance enrollment, mental health services, and family support services.

“We invite all residents of Mercer County to join us on September 9 for this wonderful celebration, where our community comes first,” said LALDEF Executive Director Cecy Jimenez-Weaast. “We hope that you will join us in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

After we recorded “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “King Harvest (Has Surely Come),” and “Across the Great Divide,” I felt we were making some kind of magic.

—Robbie Robertson (1943-2023), from Testimony

In a 1995 interview, the Band’s lead guitarist and songwriter Jaime “Robbie” Robertson, who died August 9, said that he wanted to write music “that felt like it could’ve been written 50 years ago, tomorrow, yesterday — that had this lost-in-time quality.”

Halfway through his memoir Testimony (Crown Archetype 2016), Robertson refers to his interest in writing lyrics about the Civil War “from a southern family’s point of view” — “there was a chord progression and melody rumbling through my head, but I didn’t know what the song was about.” When he played the sequence for the Band’s only American member, drummer and singer Levon Helm, the Arkansas native “liked the way it stopped and started, free of tempo.”     

After a visit to the local library to do “a little research on the Confederacy” (“They didn’t teach that stuff in Canadian schools”), Robertson “conjured up a story about Virgil Caine and his kin against this historical backdrop, and the song came to life,” the only catch being could he get away with it? Could you call this rock ‘n’ roll? more

SEULS EN SCENE: Ludmilla Dabo, accompanied by Molière Award-winning writer, director, and musician David Lescot, in “Portrait de Ludmilla Dabo en Nina Simone.” (Photo by Tristan Jeanne-Valès /courtesy of Compagnie du Kaïros)

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, Department of French and Italian, and L’Avant-Scène will present the 12th edition of Seuls en Scène French Theater Festival, which will take place from September 8 to 29 at venues across the University’s campus. Most performances will be in French, some with English supertitles. All events are open to the public, and, with the exception of one event, are free, however tickets are required.

Seuls en Scène ushers in the 23rd season of L’Avant-Scène, a French theater troupe of Princeton students. It also celebrates professional theatrical achievements from the past year: many of the invited artists to Seuls en Scène are prominent contributors to contemporary theater in France. The festival is organized by Florent Masse, professor of the practice in the Department of French and Italian and artistic director of L’Avant-Scène, and presented in collaboration with the 52nd Edition of Festival d’Automne in Paris. more

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