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NEWS
March 17, 2015 | By Allison Steele, Inquirer Staff Writer
In Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard's first 18 months at the helm of Camden's state-run school district, his administration restarted the Safe Corridors program to help kids walk to school, added teacher-support systems such as one-on-one coaching, ushered in new technology, and increased pre-K enrollment to 96 percent. Rouhanifard has often said the greatest challenges lie ahead: improving school curriculum, test scores, and graduation rates and better preparing the city's students for jobs and higher education.
NEWS
February 26, 2015 | By Allison Steele, Inquirer Staff Writer
Growing up in East Camden, Virginia Matias wasn't allowed to ride her new bike around the block, or walk to the corner store. Her mother was robbed at gunpoint when Matias was in kindergarten, and when Matias was 17, her uncle was shot dead as he manned the cash register in his bodega. Matias, now a 28-year-old Camden County police officer, doesn't think about any of that when she walks the streets of North Camden. She thinks about the children she sees coming out to play and the business owners who know her name and face, or how she can gain the trust of the city's most cynical residents.
NEWS
February 4, 2015 | By Kevin Riordan, Inquirer Columnist
The Hummer got Da'Quan Johnson's attention. So did the good job, nice home, and loving family of his mentor, Tyrone Baker Jr. "I never really had anybody to guide me," says Johnson, who was a troubled East Camden middle school student when Baker took him under his wing in 2008. Seven years later, Johnson - having graduated last spring from Camden County Technical School - is studying criminal justice at the Camden campus of Camden County College, where he earned a 3.0 his first semester.
NEWS
January 17, 2015 | By Michael Boren, Inquirer Staff Writer
The bell buzzes, and a correctional officer unlocks the towering blue door into the Camden County Jail. A metal detector greets visitors. Cellphones stay at the front desk, coats on a nearby hanger. Two doors operated from a control room grudgingly slide open, leading to an elevator. It has only a few buttons - open door, close door, stop - no floor options. It, too, is operated from afar. The elevator opens on the seventh floor. To the right, past a green cage door, is the gym. On Thursday morning, at least, the room offered inmates a brief change of scene from the jail drab.
NEWS
January 5, 2015 | By Michael Boren, Inquirer Staff Writer
Cary Soldevila was driving to a Walmart store to grab pineapples for the holiday ham and shrimp for the seafood salad - both her son's favorites - when she detoured onto Cove Road in Pennsauken. It was about 10 a.m. Christmas Eve, and Soldevila wanted to see her son, Ernesto Torres. It had been eight months since Torres, 22, had been shot to death in Camden during a fight over a girl, and this dreary morning - the start of the first Christmas without him - was especially hard on Soldevila.
NEWS
January 3, 2015 | By Michael Boren, Inquirer Staff Writer
Cary Soldevila was driving to a Walmart store to grab pineapples for the holiday ham and shrimp for the seafood salad - both her son's favorites - when she detoured onto Cove Road in Pennsauken. It was about 10 a.m. Christmas Eve, and Soldevila wanted to see her son, Ernesto Torres. It had been eight months since Torres, 22, had been shot to death in Camden during a fight over a girl, and this dreary morning - the start of the first Christmas without him - was especially hard on Soldevila.
NEWS
December 24, 2014 | BY JASON NARK, Daily News Staff Writer narkj@phillynews.com, 215-854-5916
THE CALENDAR can sting for some in Camden, on birthdays with no cakes, Thanksgivings without turkey, or a cold day in December called Christmas that mostly just feels like another Thursday. On some days, though, the calendar can surprise, as it did Dec. 18, when Christmas came early for about two dozen young adults and kids sitting inside a Caribbean restaurant on Federal Street, thanks to a local nonprofit and sacks of donations. Toddlers were bouncing off one another inside the Reggae Grill, and mothers held babies on their hips with one hand while carrying heaping containers of curry oxtail or jerk chicken back to their tables with the other.
NEWS
December 13, 2014 | By Michael Boren, Inquirer Staff Writer
The marchers gathered by the steps of the Camden County Police Department, many holding signs. "Don't Shoot," "Camden Can't Breathe," the signs read. In front of the group of nearly 25, most of them city residents, an empty gray casket lay on the ground. Six men picked up the casket and walked it down Haddon Avenue, turning left toward the federal courthouse. Police cruisers blocked traffic at intersections as the marchers crossed. The peaceful gathering Thursday, which ended at City Hall, was meant to protest the police-involved deaths of black men in Missouri and New York, but also to focus on police actions in Camden.
NEWS
December 2, 2014 | By Allison Steele, Inquirer Staff Writer
Logos for Rutgers and other local universities are taped to the doors of many of Camden's preschool classrooms. The 3- and 4-year-olds inside don't yet know how to read, but they know what college is. In Camden, where high schools had a 53 percent graduation rate last year and where fewer than 10 percent of high school students were deemed college-ready in a recent study, reshaping expectations is one of the biggest challenges for educators. Many of the district's students think of higher education as unattainable, if they think of it at all, said Katrina McCombs, director of Camden's early-childhood education program.
NEWS
November 29, 2014 | By Allison Steele, Inquirer Staff Writer
When students at Camden's UrbanPromise Academy high school learned they would have the chance to design Christmas ornaments to be displayed on New Jersey's tree in Washington, they wanted to reflect the range of cultures in the city and the state. So they drew religious symbols, as well as pictures to represent racial diversity, peace, and harmony, such as a world map and two hands holding. "I think it's an honor," said Chinyere Nwanosike, 16, one of two dozen students who created an ornament.
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