New Jersey Governor Chris Christie joined other officials on March 5, 2014, as ground was broken for the state’s first renaissance school, KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy at Lanning Square, in a ceremony held at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. The new school will be built on the former site of the Lanning Square School at the corner of South Broadway and Washington Street adjacent to the medical school.
The K-8th grade school was established under the Urban Hope Act, legislation sponsored by Senator Donald Norcross and Assemblymen Angel Fuentes and Gilbert “Whip” Wilson, to create a pilot program that would provide students in three struggling school districts—Camden, Newark and Trenton– access to new, quality public schools in their communities.
Taking part in the groundbreaking along with Governor Christie were George E. Norcross III, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Cooper; N.J. State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney; N.J. State Senator Donald Norcross; Camden Mayor Dana Redd; Drew Martin, Executive Director, KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy; and Camden Superintendant of Schools, Paymon Rouhanifard.
The academy was created in partnership among KIPP, one of the most renowned, national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public charter schools; the Cooper Foundation, the charitable arm of Cooper University Health Care; and the Norcross Foundation.
“Every child in New Jersey deserves a high-quality education regardless of zip code or economic status. In 2011, Mayor Redd and I announced an innovative public-private education project designed to turn around some of our state’s most chronically failing schools, and in 2012, that project became a reality with the signing of the Urban Hope Act,” said Governor Christie. “Today, with the groundbreaking for the first renaissance school, I am proud and excited to see how the Urban Hope Act will finally give students and parents in struggling districts in New Jersey hope and opportunity that will lead to a successful and productive future. I congratulate those who have partnered to make this a reality for Camden. ”
“If Camden is going to have a future, it needs to be able to provide its children with the same level of education — the same kind of state-of-the-art facilities, the same high quality educators and the same high expectations of students — as those found in the some of the highest-achieving districts in the state,” said Cooper Chairman George E. Norcross, III. “A stronger Camden makes a stronger South Jersey. I am extremely proud to be here today, and contribute in some way, to another part of rebuilding Camden and strengthening the entire South Jersey region.”
“Our mission is to provide great schools to New Jersey’s kids,” said Ryan Hill, Chief Executive Officer of KIPP New Jersey. “The new KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy in Camden will give its students the skills and support they need to learn, go to college, and lead happy and successful lives. We’re grateful to our partners for helping to make this school possible.”
The KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy at Lanning Square will open this September. Students in preschool and kindergarten will start classes in temporary quarters this fall and transition to the state-of-the-art, 110,000 square foot campus in the fall 2015. The state-of-the-art school will provide guaranteed enrollment for children living in the Lanning Square and Cooper Plaza neighborhoods and will offer a rigorous college preparatory curriculum beginning in the earliest grades. The Camden network will include three additional new schools: an elementary school, middle school and a high school, eventually serving 2,800 students. The goal is to increase the number of Camden students who eventually go on to college and obtain four-year degrees.