December 24, 2014 |
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.
December 13, 2014 |
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.
December 2, 2014 |
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.
November 29, 2014 |
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.
November 12, 2014 |
More than a year into New Jersey's takeover of the struggling Camden School District, student test scores have shown few signs of improvement, Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard said Monday. Just 21 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 scored at or above the state-mandated proficiency level in English, according to state testing for the 2013-14 school year, with 31 percent demonstrating proficiency in math - rates unchanged from last year. Testing for 11th-grade students showed 57 percent of students were proficient in English, an increase over last year's 41 percent.
October 19, 2014 |
Camden officials hired two partners this week to help orchestrate the demolition of nearly 600 houses in the city, as some residents expressed concern over the number of empty lots that will result from the initiative. Camden will partner with the Cooper's Ferry Partnership and the Camden County Improvement Authority to organize and expedite the demolition of the houses in the next two years. City Council voted this week to pay the authority $250,000 to oversee all demolition contracts.
October 10, 2014 |
Msgr. Robert McDermott grew up on the 2900 block of Carman Street in the thriving East Camden of the 1940s and '50s, when family, faith, and community were a seamless whole. So when "Father Bob" returned to East Camden as pastor of St. Joseph's Pro-Cathedral Parish in 1985, he brought along the lessons he learned on Carman Street, where people kept tabs on each other's kids and nearby Dudley Grange Park was for athletes, not drug dealers. In 1985, "the conditions of life were terrible" for many East Camden families, says McDermott, 73, who retired last week.
September 24, 2014 |
At his East Camden home, Phil Cohen was tearing up a floor as part of a kitchen renovation in 1982 when he discovered the old newspapers under the linoleum. Their stories and ads from February 1942 painted a fascinating picture of a Camden that no longer existed - with movie theaters, new-car dealerships, and major grocery stores. Cohen was enthralled. He held on to the papers - copies of the Camden Courier-Post and a weekly shopper - and decided to "do something with them someday.
September 18, 2014 |
David Goree made dozens of big plays in the passing game for one of the most exciting teams in Woodrow Wilson football history. Now, the former star quarterback is better at handoffs. Goree is about to surrender his longtime status as the city of Camden's all-time leader in career touchdown passes to current Camden High quarterback Khalil Williams, who is a remarkably similar athlete in terms of size, surprising arm strength, and style of play. Goree has passed along something else, as well.
September 7, 2014 |
When Jose Manuel Benito was detained and ordered deported, his young children went to LOVE Park in Philadelphia with their mother and made a wish on the fountain that Dad would come home. "It was all I could think of to do," Benito's partner, Blanca Bautista, said after his surprise release this week. Benito, 32, who has lived in the country for 13 years and has four children, 11 and younger, with Bautista, was arrested by immigration agents at his East Camden home in May. The investigators were looking for someone else when they knocked on his door, law enforcement sources say. But when they ran Benito's name, they saw he had been deported before - in 2004 on a return trip from visiting his widowed father in Puebla, Mexico - and arrested him. In the four months that followed, Bautista, overcoming her own fears as an undocumented immigrant, did much more to keep her family together than drop a coin in a fountain.