Renovate empty Camden schools

ByAndrea Whye (op-ed)

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As a lifelong Camden resident, I know our city has the potential to be great. Signs of it are happening everywhere.

I see it most in my granddaughter. She is a kindergartner at KIPP Lanning Square Primary. Recently, her class celebrated their 100th day of the school year and it made me think about how much she’s accomplished in that short time.

There is a huge difference in the type of education she’s getting compared to what my children got when they were in school. These kids are brilliant and KIPP is bringing that out in them.

When my granddaughter excels, everyone celebrates with her. The teachers at her school make learning fun and are preparing her for success. They make you feel like family. I’ve seen the principal greet every child in a family by name from youngest to oldest. Even the kids that don’t go there are treated like family.

I would like to see KIPP open in other areas of our city so that those children can have the same opportunities my granddaughter has. She’s lucky to be in a world-class school like the Kipp Cooper Norcross Academy building in Lanning Square.

However, just down the street from her new school, we have many buildings in Camden that need attention. Buildings that are in disrepair and have been neglected for years. But like our city, they have the potential to be great again.

For example, the J.G. Whittier Family School, where most of my family went to school, is currently sitting empty. I love this building. My parents met there as classmates and have been married now for 51 years. I remember our family visiting the school when I was little to watch the city drill team practice.

As a resident with a grandchild in the public school system, I would ask the district to consider finding a solution so that buildings like Whittier can be renovated and serve our kids for another century. To see these buildings go from what they were to what they could be and expand and grow with the rest of the city would be fantastic.

Every child in Camden deserves a world-class education and a safe and welcoming place to learn. I hope that the Camden City School District will ensure more of these great schools have the space to flourish.

Andrea Whye is a grandparent of a student at KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy. She lives in Camden.