May 25, 2022

By Anne Levin

Just before 1 p.m. each weekday, residents of Fitzrandolph Road, Murray Place, Prospect Avenue, Aiken Avenue, and other streets near the site where Princeton University is building a new complex brace themselves for a loud boom that rattles their walls as well as their nerves.

The boom is from blasting to prepare for construction of the University’s four new buildings for environmental studies and the School of Engineering and Applied Science (ES & SEAS). The first blasts began in March; the second phase is currently underway. The third and final segment is scheduled to take place from early October through March 2023, and in an area even closer to the residents’ homes.

Last week, some 30 homeowners met with staff from the University to express their growing concerns about effects of the blasting — cracks in sheetrock, molding, and walls; a sinkhole under a house; and water coming up through the middle of a basement floor. So far, there are nine reports by residents of damage caused by blasting.

KyuJung Whang, the University’s vice president for facilities, told those assembled that blasting is the standard methodology for this type of project. The technology has been used on other campus construction sites, most recently at the site of the East Campus Garage along Faculty Road.

“In all instances, we are following all national and local codes and standards,” he said. “We do want to be good neighbors. We have evaluated several alternatives to blasting, but haven’t found one that would work. But we will continue to seek and evaluate more options.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

“Good bookstores reflect a Whitmanian sense of self: they contain multitudes.”

—from In Praise of Good Bookstores

I found Jeff Deutsch’s In Praise of Good Bookstores (Princeton University Press $19.95) under Business & Career (341.45) at the Princeton Public Library. Which is why I almost didn’t find it. I had to ask a librarian for help. I can see why a book about bookstores by a man who runs one could end up in that Dewey Decimal dead zone, but Deutsch’s deceptively small volume is much too multitudinous to be squeezed into 341.45. While it’s true that you’ll pick up some information about managing Chicago’s Seminary Co-op, a vast bookstore with an imposing reputation, you don’t have to read far to know you’ve entered a wondrous realm on the far side of “business and career,” a bookstore utopia where the dead speak to the living in a society Deutsch has woven together with thoughts on books and life and the life in books, from Petrach to Pound, Epicurus to Emerson, Calvino to Conrad, and on beyond the beyond.

The Dylan-Whitman Matrix

Whenever I’m in the vicinity of Memorial Day, I run into Bob Dylan, born May 24, and Walt Whitman, born May 31, a liaison Dylan exploited in “I Contain Multitudes,” the first song on his album Rough and Rowdy Ways. Deutsch offers a line from Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” to describe what happens when bookstore browsers surprise themselves, finding “just the sort of book they were hoping for”: “Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.” Whitman’s thought needs more than one reading. The way it’s phrased is so striking, you can imagine it haunting the room at the Chelsea Hotel as Dylan was composing “Visions of Johanna,” and you wonder if it might have provoked something “out of the soul” of Robert Frost when he wrote “Mending Wall” (“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall / That sends the frozen ground-swell under it” ).

Another line from Whitman by way of Deutsch that led me straight to Dylan stresses the importance of taking “a more active approach to reading,” meaning that the reader has “to do something for himself, must be on the alert, must himself or herself construct indeed the poem, argument, history, metaphysical essay” (or in Dylan’s case, song or memoir) providing “the start or framework.” It’s not that “the book needs so much to be the complete thing, but the reader of the book.”

Dylan provides a demonstration in his freewheeling autobiography Chronicles: Volume One, where his version of a “good bookstore” is the voluminous library of the Greenwich Village couple he was living with at the time. He describes “a dark cavern with a  floor-to ceiling library…. The place had an overpowering presence of literature…. There were all kinds of things in here, books on typography, epigraphy, philosophy, political ideologies. The stuff that could make you bugged-eyed. Books like Fox’s Book of Martyrs, The Twelve Caesars, Tacitus lectures and letters to Brutus. Pericles’ Ideal State of Democracy, Thucydides’ The Athenian General a narrative which would give you chills…. It’s like nothing has changed from his time to mine.” more

“SHREK THE MUSICAL”: Theatre Intime and Princeton University Players have presented “Shrek The Musical.” Directed by Eliyana Abraham and Gabbie Bourla, it played May 20-22 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Above, from left, Princess Fiona (Ann Webb) is rescued by unlikely friends Shrek (Rafael Collado) and Donkey (Tobi Fadugba). (Photo by Emily Yang)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Theatre Intime and Princeton University Players have collaborated to present Shrek The Musical. The show entertained an enthusiastic mixed-age audience, which filled the Hamilton Murray Theater on opening night.

The 2008 Broadway musical’s often witty book and lyrics are by David Lindsay-Abaire, who adapts the screenplays of the popular DreamWorks film series, which is based on William Steig’s 1990 picture book. The music — which incorporates elements of pop, R&B, and traditional musical theater — is by Jeanine Tesori. The show interpolates “I’m a Believer,” which is written by Neil Diamond.

This production is smoothly directed by Eliyana Abraham and Gabbie Bourla. They let the audience be a part of the action, by reserving a row of seats through which the cast often moves.

The crisp musical direction is by Giao Vu Dinh, assisted by Sam Melton and Chloe Webster. The band opens the show with a brief “Overture,” consisting of a series of triumphal chords followed by a bouncy march.

“The wry “Big, Bright, Beautiful World” shows the childhood experiences of Shrek (played by Rafael Collado) and Fiona (Ann Webb). At age 7, Shrek is sent to live on his own having been warned by his parents (played by Aria Buchanan and Matt Gancayco) that he will be shunned for his looks. Eventually he finds a swamp, where he is content to live alone.

Fiona blithely re-titles the show Fiona The Musical, and tells her story. As a child she is shut in a tower by her parents, King Harold (Andrew Duke) and Queen Lillian (Jacquelynn Lin), to await Prince Charming. more

FESTIVAL OPENER: Storm Large sings music of Kurt Weill in the Princeton Festival’s first appearance of the season at Morven on Friday, June 10. (Photo by Laura Domela)

Vocalist Storm Large opens the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO)’s all-new Princeton Festival on Friday, June 10 at 7:30 p.m., in a tent on the grounds of Morven Museum and Garden, 55 Stockton Street.

Large sings the dual Anna role in Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins in a concert performance of the work with the PSO. On Saturday, June 11 and Sunday, June 12 at 7 p.m., the Festival continues with the opening performances of the comedic, fully staged opera double bill consisting of Derrick Wang’s Scalia/Ginsburg and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Impresario. All three vocal works are sung in English with English titles.

The Seven Deadly Sins features songs tracing the movements and actions of two Annas, a pragmatic singer and a passionate, impulsive dancer, through seven U.S. cities in which they encounter sinful temptations. Paired with this work is Rodion Shchedrin’s Carmen Suite, for which the composer arranged and orchestrated the music from Bizet’s eponymous opera for strings and percussion.

Music Director Rossen Milanov conducts the performance. “I love Kurt Weill’s deeply original music — sensual, inventive, violent at moments,” he said. “Storm Large is perfectly at home with the style of this music requiring not just extraordinary vocal skills, but also an amazing stage presence.” more

SMART ART: Paintings by members of the New York City United Federation of Retired Teachers will be on view at Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury June 2 through June 27. An artist reception will be held on Sunday, June 5 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury will host an exhibit by members of the New York City United Federation of Retired Teachers from June 2 through June 27. Many of the exhibiting members were in a painting class run by the United Federation of Teachers as part of the SI Beagle Program, a program designed to be a part of continuing learning by the New York City Teachers Union, which was located in Manalapan as part of the Union’s outreach program.

The classes are currently virtual. Chapters are in the five boroughs of New York City and outreach programs in various states and countries throughout the world. Linda Gilbert, chairperson of Gourgaud Gallery and member of the Cranbury Arts Council, was the original instructor, followed by Deborah Rosen. Gilbert started the painting class in New Jersey in 2010.

The artists include Gilbert, Rosen, Donna Rittner. and Frances Gunther, who have all exhibited before in various shows at the Gourgaud Gallery. They also welcome newcomers to this exhibit, who are also retired teachers from New York City.  more

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) has announced the return of its Dance, Princeton, Dance series just in time for Princeton Pride 2022.

On Friday, June 3, the ACP’s parking lot will transform into an open-air dance party from 8 to 10 p.m. with tunes supplied by Princeton Record Exchange’s own DJ ModCon2. This celebration of Princeton Pride is open to everyone and all ages.

Admission is a suggested donation of $5, to benefit the ACP’s Pride Art Club, where teens work collaboratively to create and complete a graphic novel. Led by teaching artist and queer activist Rashad Malik Davis, this free class uses the process of creating a narrative and characters and to explore issues of gender identity, self-expression, and acceptance in a safe and creative space.

The Princeton Pride Dance Party is hosted in collaboration with the Princeton Record Exchange, with support from the Bayard Rustin Center.

The Arts Council of Princeton is located at 102 Witherspoon Street. For more information, visit artscouncilofprinceton.org.

“LAMBERTVILLE ON MARCH 16, 1898”: This photo by John A. Anderson looking west along Bridge Street toward New Hope, Pa., is part of a historical photography exhibit on view at the James Wilson Marshall House Museum in Lambertville. (Photo courtesy of the Lambertville Historical Society)

A new historical photography exhibit at Lambertville’s James Wilson Marshall House Museum showcases 56 images of Lambertville as it transitioned to the 20th century, portraits, and other examples of the art of John A. Anderson.

Anderson (1829-1917), a prominent Lambertville resident and railroad executive, was an exceptional, dedicated photographer. His work communicates history and a sense of place in remarkably high resolution, thanks to his artistry and technical skill, and it holds enduring interest. In addition to the photographs, items on display include Anderson’s scrapbook and articles he wrote about local history and photography.

“It took our team 2 ½ years to select the photographs from the Collection of the Mercer Museum Library of the Bucks County Historical Society, to digitally restore and research the images and reference materials, and to develop and install the displays,” said Lambertville Historical Society Trustee Michael Menche. “This is our first new exhibit at Marshall House in more than 20 years, and the first exhibit of John A. Anderson’s work in 40 years. If you love Lambertville, old photography, or local history, we think you’ll find this very worthwhile.”

The exhibit is open every Sunday from 1-4 p.m. at the James Wilson Marshall House Museum at 60 Bridge Street in Lambertville. The exhibit is free; donations are welcome.

For more information, visit lambertvillehistoricalsociety.org.

“CATTUS ISLAND PARK, TOMS RIVER”: This painting by adult student Barbara Weinfield is featured in “Faculty Student Show,” on view through July 9 at the West Windsor Arts Center on Alexander Road in West Windsor.

The “Faculty Student Show” at West Windsor Arts (WWA) celebrates the work of teaching artists and their students created in a class or workshop at West Windsor Arts Center (WWAC) during the fall, winter, or spring sessions of the 2021-2022 class year. The exhibition runs through July 9.

WWA’s teaching artists comprise a group of talented and accomplished individuals in their field and in the community. With small class sizes there are plenty of opportunities for one-on-one instruction with their supportive staff. This provides each student with a personalized learning experience for all ages. At WWA, they value learners as creative and independent thinkers, who benefit from work in the arts and the guidance of their teaching artists. No matter the difficulties of COVID-19 and normal life, WWA aims to offer a safe place where students and teachers can leave their worries behind and feel empowered by their art.  more

TEAM WORK: “Our Exercise Coach program can strengthen muscles, increase bone density, and also improve cholesterol and metabolism levels. People can become stronger and healthier.” Kim, left, and Tom Swietek, owners of The Exercise Coach, are enthusiastic about the company’s proprietary “Exerbotic” program and the results it can achieve.

By Jean Stratton

Stronger Muscles. Stronger Health. Stronger Self.”

— The Exercise Coach

20 minutes twice a week? Really?

This is the protocol of The Exercise Coach, a unique fitness program focusing on gaining and maintaining strength.

20 Minutes

And, indeed, what is really unique is that it requires only 20 minutes to complete an exercise session.

“Even those with little time to spare find that our program works for them,” point out Tom and Kim Swietek, owners of The Exercise Coach, located at 46 Vreeland Drive, Suite 6 in Skillman. “The 20-minute concept is really appealing to people who feel they don’t have time to get to the gym or who don’t really like to work out.”

After a previous career as CPAs, the husband and wife team opened the fitness studio in June 2021. They had not been exercise “fanatics,” but as Tom says, “We were health-conscious, active, played sports, and we knew exercise was important. We had talked about making a change and doing something together.”

They decided to take their career in a new direction, and their research indicated that the market for fitness centers was growing.

“We did our due diligence, and investigated different kinds of gyms and fitness centers,” reports Kim. “We were very enthusiastic about The Exercise Coach and its approach.”

Founded by Brian Cygan in 2000 and headquartered near Chicago, The Exercise Coach offers franchise opportunities, with 154 locations currently in operation nationwide. more

TITLE SHOT: Princeton University men’s lacrosse player Sam English fights to get off a shot against Boston University in the first round of the NCAA tournament on May 14. Last Saturday, junior midfielder English tallied three goals to help fifth-seeded Princeton top fourth-seeded Yale 14-10 in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Tigers, now 11-4, will face top-seeded Maryland (16-0) in the NCAA semis on May 28 at East Hartford, Conn., with the victor advancing to the title game on May 30. It marks Princeton’s first Final 4 appearance since 2004. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Matt Madalon could have felt an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu as the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team fell behind Yale 3-1 in the NCAA quarterfinals last Saturday afternoon.

With fourth-seeded Yale having beaten fifth-seeded Princeton six straight times and Tiger head coach Madalon never having experienced a win over the Bulldogs in his five-year tenure, history seemed to be repeating itself in the contest played at Hofstra University.

But Madalon wasn’t fazed by the early deficit. “We were down 3-1 but we were still getting some of the shots off that we would like to get, they just weren’t dropping,” said Madalon. “I think at that point, it was ‘hey, just stick to the game plan and keep working. If we get some shots to drop, we can flip this pretty quickly.’”

Princeton did flip the script in a hurry, going on a 7-0 run over a 14-minute stretch from the latter part of the first quarter into the second to seize momentum.

“It was really important, I don’t know if we have been on a 7-0 run at any other point of the year,” said Madalon.  “It was a couple of good bounces, a couple of good saves, and a couple of really good shooting performances.”

Building an 8-5 lead at halftime, the Tigers held off the Bulldogs over the final 30 unites of the contest to pull out a 14-10 win. The Tigers, now 11-4, will face top-seeded Maryland (16-0) in the NCAA semis on May 28 at East Hartford, Conn., with the victor advancing to the title game on May 30. It marks Princeton’s first Final 4 appearance since 2004.

Madalon liked the way his squad took care of business in the second half. more

OPEN THROTTLE: The Princeton University women’s open crew varsity 8 churns through the water in a race this spring. The Tiger top boat, along with the second varsity 8 and varsity 4, will be competing in the NCAA Championships from May 27-29 in Sarasota, Fla. (Photo by Sideline Photos, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Bill Alden

Heading into the Ivy League Championships earlier this month, the rowers in the Princeton University women’s open crew program experienced a range of emotions.

“They were definitely fired up for it; we hadn’t had an Ivy championship for almost three years,” said Princeton women’s open crew head coach Lori Dauphiny.

“The interesting thing is that most of them had not been in an Ivy championship. There was a little bit of anxiousness as to what is this all about. I thought the seniors did a really nice job of trying to walk them through what is was going to be like.”

There were some anxious moments at the regatta held on May 15 in Pennsauken, as Princeton found itself in a tight battle with Yale and Brown for the Sally P. Shoemaker Trophy given to the crew with the most points. A victory by Princeton’s varsity 8 in its grand final proved to be the tiebreaker as the three squads each had 74 points.

The Tiger top boat clocked a time of 6:11.703 over the 2,000-meter course on the Cooper River to edge Brown (6:13.730) to win its grand final.

“We knew they would be a tough competition,” said Dauphiny of Brown. “We did not change the race plan that we had but we were ready. We knew that it would be close. We talked a lot about that and to be prepared for that and stay internally in the boat. They did that because the team hit a goose in the race and a kid almost lost her oar. They also hit a log somewhere in the race so there were two bobbles in which they hit something. It was a great race. It just heightened the fact that they had a lot of resilience through the year with inconsistencies, different lineups, and sickness. They were able to race through some things that were thrown at them in the race.” more

SENIOR MOMENT: Princeton High baseball player Carl Birge follows through on a swing as PHS hosted Franklin High last Wednesday. Senior catcher Birge went 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs as PHS topped Franklin 16-6. The Tigers, who moved to 11-11 with an 11-10 loss to WW/P-North last Monday, play at Seneca on May 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Carl Birge loved the vibe around the Valley Road field last Wednesday afternoon as the Princeton High baseball team held its annual Senior Day ceremony.

“This was really fun because a lot of people came, a lot of parents and a lot of the old players,” said senior catcher Birge. “It was great to see them.”

With PHS featuring a group of 13 tight-knit seniors, there is no wonder that the game drew a big crowd.

“We are best friends on the field, best friends off the field and it shows,” said Birge. “We are really comfortable with each other, we are quick to adjust to everything.”

After falling behind 4-1 to Franklin, the Tigers adjusted with aplomb, exploding for nine runs in the bottom of the third inning to go up 10-4 and never looked back on the way to a 16-6 victory.

“It was a great hitting game where we show off our offense,” said Birge, reflecting on the win which saw PHS pound out 20 hits.

“Everyone contributed and that is what we love to see. It was the same with our game against Ewing (an 8-4 win on May 13) where we had a six-run inning in the first. It helps to build up that big lead and then it becomes a whole lot easier to pitch and play after that.”

Birge made a big contribution, going 3 for 4 with three runs and three RBIs, including driving in the last run of the contest on a single through the infield to end the game on the 10 run-rule. more

ACTION JACKSON: Hun School baseball player Jackson Kraemer heads to first base in recent action. Senior star Kraemer scored a run to help Hun defeat Hamilton West 6-0 in the Mercer County Tournament championship game last Thursday. On Saturday, he pitched a shot and hit a homer as Hun deferred Peddie School 15-0 in the semifinal round of Prep A state tournament. Hun went on to fall 5-3 to Pingry in the Prep A final round on Sunday to end the spring with a 22-4 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Jackson Kraemer, helping the Hun School baseball team top Hamilton West 6-0 in the Mercer County Tournament championship game last Thursday is something he will never forget.

“Thursday was huge, we have been working for this for four years, our program had never done this in its history,” said senior outfielder/pitcher Kraemer, who scored a run in the win. “It meant a lot. Having our fans out there and the whole setting, it was awesome.”

The bonds that Kraemer has developed with his teammates made the title even more awesome.

“It is just the brotherhood I have been building up the last four years,” said Kraemer. “The friends and the friendships are going to last me a lifetime. I love the sport.”

The love of the game helped Hun push through a baseball marathon last week as it was also competing in the state Prep A tournament. The Raiders fell 8-2 to Pingry on Wednesday in the first round of the double-elimination competition and hosted Peddie on Saturday in a loser’s bracket contest as it looked to keep its Prep title hopes alive.

“Coach (Tom Monfiletto) said last week this would be a marathon in these tournaments with all the scheduling,” said Kraemer. “We just had to go out there and compete.”

On Saturday, Kramer competed hard, pitching in sweltering 90 degree heat and tossed a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts and hit a homer as Hun rolled to a 15-0 win over Peddie in the semifinal round.

“I felt good today it was just going out there and doing a job to get us to Sunday,” said Kraemer, who lost his rhythm as Hun exploded for 10 runs in the bottom of the third inning. “The long inning slowed me down a little bit. It took me a couple batters and then I felt good. It was very hot out there.”

Kraemer started the 10-run outburst in style, leading off the inning by blasting a homer over the left field fence.

“In the first at-bat, I got caught looking with a curve ball,” recalled Kraemer. “For my second at bat, I was talking to coach [Steve] Garrison and it was just try to hit a ball to right field. The pitcher got me an inside fastball and I just tried to hit it where it was pitched. I got good barrel on it and I saw it going out. That was awesome.”

For Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto, a former Hun player and assistant coach, guiding the Raiders to the MCT title was an awesome achievement.

“It meant more than I can even describe, from the school community, from the alumni, and from the parents with the emotions that were involved in that game,” said Monfiletto, a 2004 Hun alum. more

FINAL INNINGS: Hun School baseball player Carson Applegate fires a pitch in the Mercer County Tournament. Applegate starred as Hun won its first-ever MCT title, beating Hamilton West 6-0 in the final Thursday. Last Sunday, senior star Applegate battled hard on the mound as Hun fell 5-3 to Pingry in the Prep A state final. Applegate went 5.2 innings with six strikeouts and three walks as the Raiders ended the spring with a 22-4 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When it was over, Carson Applegate trudged off the field with arm around Ben Romano as they consoled each other after the Hun School baseball team fell 5-3 to Pingry in the Prep A state final last Sunday afternoon.

The defeat ended a marathon week for Hun which saw it fighting a two-front war as it won the program’s first-ever Mercer County Tournament title on Thursday night and then battled from the loser’s bracket to make the Prep A final in the double-elimination competition.

With his eyeblack smudged by tears, Applegate acknowledged that going for two titles in seven days was a grind.

“It was definitely a highly emotional week with a lot of emotional wins especially Thursday night,” said Applegate. “Winning the MCT, that was a goal for us. With Brody [Pasieka] on the mound and everybody in the field just laying their hearts out, that is the standard we set for this program.”

Applegate and his classmates were heartbroken after coming up just short against Pingry, hugging each other one by one in right field after the team’s postgame talk.

“I think this is the first time I have ever cried on the baseball field,” said Applegate. “These bonds that we have built over the past couple of years are really special.”

Having lost 8-2 to Pingry in the first round of the Prep A tourney, Hun rebounded by topping Peddie 15-0 on Saturday and then defeating Lawrenceville 10-1 early Sunday morning to advance to the final against Pingry.

Even through Applegate was spent, he was psyched to take the mound for Hun in the finale.

“I was drained. I took a four-hour nap when I got home and I felt horrible when I woke up,” said Applegate, who went 5.2 innings with six strikeouts and three walks and went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. more

MEMORABLE RUN: Hun School softball player Lexi Kobryn, right, celebrates with Kat Xiong after scoring a run in a game this spring. Last Thursday, sophomore star Kobryn led the way with her arm and bat as Hun defeated Lawrenceville 11-2 in the Prep A state title game. She hurled a complete game, striking out 10 and yielding five hits and went 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs and two RBIs as Hun posted a final record of 18-1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Lexi Kobryn has produced some remarkable pitching performances this spring for the Hun School softball team, hurling two perfect games and four other no-hitters.

But sophomore star Kobryn was involved in one meltdown this season as Hun squandered a 7-0 seventh inning lead against Lawrenceville in late April with her in the circle on the way to an 8-7 defeat for its first loss of 2022.

When the rivals met last Thursday in the state Prep A title game at the Adventure Sports and Entertainment Center in Jackson, Kobryn had that setback on her mind.

“I was definitely nervous; it was one inning that really killed us,” said Kobryn. “We wanted to come back and show what we are made of and what we have been working for.”

Kobryn kept her head, putting on a show with her arm and bat as the Raiders prevailed 11-2 over the Big Red. She hurled a complete game, striking out 10 and yielding five hits and went 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs and two RBIs as Hun posted a final record of 18-1 on the way to winning its first Prep A title since 2017.

“They have some good hitters but I threw all of my pitches,” said Kobryn. “It was just keeping them off balance. My rise was working, I got a lot of batters on that. I had confidence in myself, I was trying to keep it together.”

Kobryn has gained confidence through the spring as she hurled one gem after the other. more

DOUBLE TAKE: Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse player Elle Anhut heads to goal last Monday as PDS hosted Morris Catholic in the first round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public B tournament. Senior star Anhut tallied a goal and three assists to help the Panthers post a 13-1 win over 16th-seeded Morris Catholic. PDS, now 11-8, will host eighth-seeded St. Elizabeth in the quarterfinals on May 26. The Panthers are seeking a title double, having won the Prep B state tournament final last Friday when they rallied for a 13-12 win over Montclair-Kimberley Academy. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As Elle Anhut and her teammates on the Princeton Day School girls’ lacrosse team looked ahead to the homestretch of this season, they were determined to give retiring coach Jill Thomas a special farewell tour.

The goal was to send out New Jersey Lacrosse Hall of Famer Thomas with a pair of state titles, starting with the Prep B state tournament, to honor her impact on the program and players.

“She pushes you to be your best, you might not know you can give it,” said senior star midfielder and tri-captain Anhut, reflecting on the experience of playing for Thomas. “She knows what you can give and she is pushing it from you. It may seem like a bit at times but she is pushing you to be your best and take on certain roles. She believes in you.”

With the Panthers trailing MKA 12-9 in the state Prep B final, the players kept believing, reeling off a four-goal run to pull out a dramatic 13-12 win and earn the program’s first Prep title since 2017.

“I think as a team we worked the best that we have the entire season, everybody was in it the entire time,” said Anhut, who had four assists in the final with Sophie Jaffe tallying five goals and an assist and Tessa Caputo chipping in four goals and an assist.

“Everybody is proud of how they played. We played super well, super strong, especially against a North Jersey team too. It felt awesome because my freshman year, we lost in the semi.”

Getting the Prep B crown was worth the wait. “It was huge, I know the captains and were feeling it, we were freshman on varsity that first year,” said Anhut, who is a team captain along with classmates Ali Surace and Maggie Zarish-Yasunas. more

SPOILS OF VICTORY: Members of the Princeton Day School boys’ tennis team show off the plaque and trophies they earned for winning the team title at the Prep B state tournament last week. PDS totaled 11 points to edge runner-up Pennington by one point. Pictured, from left, are head coach Michael Augsberger, Steven Li, Jaylen Peng, Farhan Mohammad, Josh Chu, Jason Wu, Dhruv Balajji, Andrew Marshall, Oliver Silverio, Neel Adusumilli, Albert Ming, and assistant coach Jon Brown. PDS is now competing in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) South Jersey Non-Public B tournament where it is seeded third and topped sixth-seeded Bishop Eustace 5-0 last Monday in a quarterfinal contest. The Panthers will now play at second-seeded Rutgers Prep in the semis on May 27. (Photo provided by Michael Augsberger)

By Bill Alden

Michael Augsberger sensed that his Princeton Day School boys’ tennis team was all in as it hit the court last week to compete in the Prep B state tournament.

“The guys were laser focused, we always talk about peaking at tournament time,” said PDS head coach Augsberger. “Their mental energy peaked at the right time, you could tell going into the first day that they really wanted it badly. Neel Adusumilli is the vocal senior leader. He and Andrew Marshall are the two guys that held everybody accountable and got them worked into a frenzy. I have to give them the credit.”

The Panthers needed that intensity as the tournament turned into a two-horse race between PDS and rival Pennington. In the first day of action, the Panthers advanced to the finals in four of the five flights of the competition to build a narrow 9-8 lead over Pennington.

Heading into the finals on May 17 at Edison, Augsberger wasn’t taking anything for granted.

“We told the guys this is not a coronation day, it is a work day,” said Augsberger. “It could go any way. Even though we have four guys in there, it could easily be a spectacular demise.”

It ended up being a spectacular day for the program as PDS prevailed at both first doubles and second doubles to pull out the crown with 11 points, one better than runner-up Pennington. It was the first team title for the program since 2018. more

May 18, 2022

More than 500 demonstrators gathered at Hinds Plaza in the rain on Saturday morning to rally for abortion rights in the face of the possibility that the Supreme Court may soon overturn Roe v. Wade, the ruling that legalized abortion almost 50 years ago. (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

With COVID case numbers rising again in Princeton and throughout the state, mask mandates have returned for Princeton Public Schools (PPS), as well as a number of other schools, in following New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) guidance. It’s another troubling development in the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve entered new territory recently that will test us all,” said Princeton Board of Health Chair Dr. George DiFerdinando in an email on Monday. He went on to describe the current situation that has left many confused. “We’re at a moment of broad risk of infection and yet reduced incidence of severe illness,” he continued, “This situation can be confusing because during much of the pandemic, even after vaccination, infections and severe illnesses have tracked together. That’s no longer the case, at least for now.”

Noting that reported case numbers are increasing locally and throughout the country, he added, “Hospitalized and ICU-hospitalized patients are way down, which says that the severity of the pandemic is down, even if the number of infections may not be.”

The Princeton Health Department on May 16 reported 107 new cases in the previous seven days, 200 in the previous 14 days. May 9 totals were 108 for the previous seven days, 168 for the previous 14 days. Princeton recorded its highest totals in early January this year, with 287 cases reported in a single week, 568 in a two-week period.

The latest NJDOH COVID-19 activity level map shows five out of six regions in the state, including Mercer County in the Central West region, are at “high” risk for COVID-19 activity.

An email sent out last Friday to all PPS families, students, and staff, announced that, because of an increase in COVID-19 cases, starting on Monday, May 16, “the district will return to universal masking for all indoor activities and classes. Masks will also be required on PPS buses.” more

By Anne Levin

Attorneys for Rider University and the Westminster Foundation presented oral arguments Monday related to two lawsuits that were dismissed two years ago, and then appealed.

Designed to keep Rider from moving Westminster Choir College from its longtime home in Princeton to Rider’s Lawrenceville campus — which it did in 2020 — and selling the valuable, 22-acre Princeton site, the lawsuits were combined into a single hearing and heard in Trenton before Superior Court Appellate Judges Allison E. Accurso, Lisa Rose, and Catherine I. Enright.

If the judges agree with the Foundation’s appeal, the next step would be to go to trial. “If that happens, I feel very strongly we will win,” said attorney Bruce Afran, who represents the Foundation, a coalition of students, alumni, and faculty. The Foundation’s goal is to return Westminster to the Princeton campus, some of which remains in use for classes and concerts.

Rider and Westminster merged in 1991. The terms of the merger dictated that Rider maintain Westminster’s Princeton campus and programs. Citing financial woes, Rider announced in 2016 that it was seeking a buyer for Westminster that would keep the school in Princeton. When a $40 million deal to sell the choir college to a for-profit company based in China fell through, Rider opted to move the school to its Lawrenceville campus.

The original lawsuits brought by two groups — one of faculty, alumni, and donors; the other of students — were dismissed two years ago by Judge Robert Lougy of the Superior Court Chancery Division. In that case, Rider argued that the students did not have the right to use the courts to protect the school. Only Rider is permitted to make decisions regarding Westminster, the university claimed. more

By Donald Gilpin

The pouring rain did not deter them or dampen their enthusiasm as more than 500 demonstrators gathered at Hinds Plaza in downtown Princeton on Saturday, May 14, to support abortion rights and protest in response to a leaked Supreme Court draft decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion in all 50 states.

One of more than 380 demonstrations taking place throughout the country, Saturday’s “Bans Off Our Bodies Day of Action” rally in Princeton, organized by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey (PPAFNJ), featured more than a dozen speakers — politicians, community leaders, activists, reproductive health providers — and drew abortion rights supporters from across the state.

Emphasizing how access to reproductive health care can impact lives, the speakers called on legislators to take action to protect and expand access to abortion care.

The block of Witherspoon Street alongside Hinds Plaza was closed to traffic for the duration of the event, as demonstrators spilled out into the street. Many carried homemade signs bearing a variety of messages such as: “Abortion is health care,” “Abortion is a human right,” “Protect American women’s rights,” “This is government-sponsored misogyny,” “Vote as if your rights depended on it,” and, even more creatively, ”Our wombs have more regulations than your guns,” and “Keep politics out of my uterus.”

Members of the crowd were eager to voice their concerns. “If you can’t control your reproduction — if you can’t control your body, you can’t control your life, and that’s the most basic thing,” said Jackie Syrop from Lawrenceville. “It’s all about controlling women. I’m tired of seeing this. I was around in ’71 and ’72 when people were talking about this. I thought maybe it was over then.” more

A COLORFUL NUISANCE: The spotted lanternfly is back in Princeton for a fourth summer. It appears as a small black insect in its early stages of growth, but by midsummer the adult lanternflies will be flying around in full color, leaving their sticky black excretions on tree trunks, cars, patios, and walkways. Tree experts recommend that residents remove the lanternfly’s host tree, the ailanthus or tree of heaven.

By Donald Gilpin

“They have hatched!” The text message from the Princeton municipal arborist arrived at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. “Just saw them today.” Beginning as a harmless-looking little black insect or nymph, the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) will grow into the colorful flying adult insect that drops from trees, lands everywhere, and excretes a sticky black substance onto patios, sidewalks, cars, and trees.

“You’ll see the nymphs, the little black insect,” said Princeton Municipal Arborist Taylor Sapudar. “Then they’ll develop into the second phase, a little red crawler, but we won’t be seeing the adults — the ones that are flying around and landing on you — until midsummer.”

He continued, “So far it does not appear to be an insect that will cause major hardwood damage to the tree. A lot of residents are under the impression that it’s going to act similarly to the emerald ash borer, which completely kills the ash tree, but the spotted lanternfly is more of a cosmetic or ornamental nuisance.”

Sapudar described what many Princeton residents can expect two or three months from now. “They may be on trees overhanging your driveway or your patio,” he said. “When they feed they’re going to excrete that black sticky substance that has the potential to get onto your car or elsewhere.”

He went on to outline a strategy of destroying the spotted lanternfly’s preferred habitat, the tree of heaven or ailanthus tree. He noted, however, “if they’re on an ornamental tree like a maple or birch, to remove the tree is not recommended at all.” more

DANCING IN A “DREAM”: Caia Howcroft, a student at New York’s School of American Ballet, practices in her family’s Princeton home for upcoming performances of George Balanchine’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with the New York City Ballet.

By Anne Levin

As the official academy of New York City Ballet, the School of American Ballet (SAB) provides all of the children who appear with the company at Lincoln Center in ballets featuring roles for youngsters. One of those ballets is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will be performed at Lincoln Center’s Koch Theatre May 21-29.

Among the children in the cast is 10-year-old Caia Howcroft, a fifth grader at Littlebrook School. She lives with her family in Princeton and takes classes at the ballet school in New York four times a week — six, if you count rehearsals.

“I’m kind of like a little bug,” Caia described her role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was choreographed by George Balanchine in 1967. “It’s really fun, and I like doing it. The steps in it are ones I knew, but the people teaching me really wanted to get down to the details and perfect it, and of course, have us dance all together. In class we kind of only practice what we’re doing ourselves, but in rehearsal you have to be all together — in sync.” more

By Anne Levin 

On Saturday, May 14, more than 40 area residents and members of the LHT Saturday Morning Walking Club took part in the official unveiling of “History Along the LHT,” an interpretive signage program developed for the Lawrence Hopewell Trail. 

“The Lawrence Hopewell Trail passes through many locations that reflect centuries of the rich history of this corner of Mercer County,” said former Lawrence Township historian and current LHT board member Dennis P. Waters at the event. He led a walk to three new signs along the LHT: the Brearley Oak, a tree between 255 and 410 years old; Lewisville Road, Lawrence Township’s oldest African American community; and Princeton Pike, one of New Jersey’s oldest toll roads. 

“From ancient trees to colonial thoroughfares to abandoned grist mills to remnants of the trolley era, local history sprouts from the trail at every turn,” Waters said. “With this project, we bring this history to life through interpretive signs at 31 locations that are significant in local history along the LHT’s 22 miles.” 

While no one knows for sure the age of the Brearley Oak, estimates for the eastern black oak range from 255 to 410 years old. The trunk’s circumference is 258 inches, and it stands 110 feet high with a crown of 148 feet, as measured in 2019. The tree is named for the Brearley family, which settled in the area in 1690, according to information from the LHT. Bristol Myers Squibb now owns the land and tends to the tree with the help of professional arborists. more

By Stuart Mitchner

According to the first Princeton Companion (Princeton University Press, 1978), Woodrow Wilson “had a larger hand in the development of Princeton into a great university than any other man in the twentieth century. He left a vision of an institution dedicated both to things of the mind and the nation’s service, promoted a spirit of religious tolerance, and held up ideals of integrity and achievement that still inspire the Princeton community.”

In the words of The New Princeton Companion (Princeton University Press, 2022), “While many of Wilson’s accomplishments and ideas have had lasting beneficial impact, he was a divisive figure both during and after his Princeton presidency and his record of racist views and actions has deeply tarnished his legacy.” The trustees’ 2020 report concluded that the continued use of Wilson’s name on the University’s school of public affairs “impeded the school’s and the University’s capacity to pursue their missions.”

The Fountain’s Story

The Wilson article in Robert Durkee’s New Princeton Companion also mentions the 39-foot sculpture Double Sights, installed in the fall of 2019 on the plaza in front of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, formerly named for Wilson. Walter Hood’s sculpture is composed of “a slanted white column resting on a straight black column, both columns etched with quotes from Wilson,” along with quotes from contemporaries “who were critical of his views and policies, particularly as they related to race and gender.” The structure’s stated purpose is to educate the campus community “about both the positive and negative dimensions of Wilson’s legacy.” more