Pyne Poynt Junior High School

800 Erie Street

William Cooper, the first European settler in Camden, obtained 300 acres in 1680, and named the house he built there "Pyne Poynt", after a dense pine forest that grew on the property, in what today is referred to as North Camden. The City of Camden purchased a tract of this land along the Delaware River below the mouth of the Cooper River in 1913, and established Pyne Poynt Park there. In 1955 a section of the park land at North 8th and Erie Streets was deeded to the Board of Education, and in 1957 Pyne Poynt Junior High School was built.

Pyne Poynt Junior High School was built in 1957 and opened in 1958. It was a great school to attend and the teachers were good teachers. 

Just a few off the top of my head- Mr. Moore, Math; Mr. Gould, Metal Shop; Mr. Verdile, Homeroom; Mr. Radell, Science; Mr. Lewis, Electric Shop; Miss Carlin, English; Mr. Turner, Print Shop. I almost forgot Mr. Wheeler, Music... now how could I do that, I will never for as long as I am on this earth forget these teachers. They had a great impact on my life.

I was in Practical Arts and Print Shop was my favorite. While in Print Shop under the direction of Mr. Turner, a Afro-American student by the name of George Huff and I helped design the School Emblem- the P within a P. We cut these out of rubber tile blocks. The P within in a P was chosen for the schools emblem. For the longest time after that the original tile blocks where in a showcase in the main corridor of the school.

Many days I stayed after school not because I was a problem. I did it because I used to help out in the print shop either running the press or setting type. I made a lot of great friends at Pyne Poynt Junior High in the years that I attended there.

I also have fond memories of the neighborhood around and leading up to Pyne Poynt. What about those Donuts or Cinnamon Buns from the State Street Bakery. How about Wolfe's Market on State Street across from Ablett Village. Riding to school on either the 12-80 or the #9 or #15 bus- this was a rare treat and only came about when you had the pocket change to do so if not you walked.

If there is anyone out there that can add a few lines to this please do so. Friends like Joyce Dill, Bev Hartz, Annie Martin, Susan French, Millie Kurth, Joann Kavalich, just to name a few of the opposite sex.

I'll close for now I'll put my thinking cap back on and see what else I can remember.

-Earl Crim, September 2004


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Around the table (left to right): Eluria Milliken, Victor Levinson, May A. Jones, John J. Horn, Alfred R. Pierce SolicitorSamuel J. T. French Jr President, Joseph C. Ragone Secretary, Anthony R. Catrambone, Harry R. Janice Vice-President, J. Maxwell Griffin, Eugene E. Wales, John Odorisio

I grew up in Camden, and when I am at our Camden campus, the memories of a childhood in the city come streaming back. 

I loved those Campbell Soup tomato trucks - the smells, the sounds, the sights, even the taste, when some baskets "fell" off the trucks. We carried salt shakers for just such occasions. Every city block was exciting. We had the truck from New York delivering exotic vegetables to the Chinese family who ran the dry cleaners, and the savory smell of salmon cooking in Mr. Molotsky's grocery store. 

When I was very young, I would wait for my grandfather after he left work at the Hollingshead factory, and we would go to Nittenger's Tavern. His drink of choice was Camden Beer, and for me, they made great sandwiches. 

There were wonderful hot summer nights with families telling stories and kids hearing what we weren't supposed to, like what Mr. Unruh did in the barbershop where my uncle took my cousins. The cousins were supposed to have been there that day - "might've been killed," we heard. 

I could leisurely ride my bike around the bridge plaza, and wait for my mom to come home from work at the Walt Whitman Hotel. I loved that hotel. For my 10th birthday, she arranged for me to be a guest. The elevator operator called me "Sir." I had my own room key. There was a TV and they delivered my lunch. 

My formal education began at all-boys Sewell School, which was across the street from all-girls Northeast. Having us separated gave me a reason to look forward to attending the new coed Pyne Point Junior High. When I got there, besides girls, we had a new school that looked just like one on TV, and movie-like "rumbles" combining south and north Camden turf. 

Pyne Point Park also had a factory that made gelatin out of bones, which was creepy and mysterious. Close by was Petty's Island with rumored hidden pirate treasure. 

Downtown we had elegant J.C. Penney's and the less chic Woolworth's, where my aunt sold candy, with the best counter lunch. For fun, I could run to the top of the "milk bottle building" (City Hall), ride the Lit Bros. store escalators, or run across the bridge toll plaza. We had the Savar or Stanley movie theaters for wide-screen popcorn spectaculars and the Midway for all the horror we could handle. 

There were pep rallies for the vaunted Wilson High/Camden High Thanksgiving football rivalry. If I rode my bike to East Camden, I found a TV world of white- steepled churches, lawns with roses surrounded by glistening white conch shells, and plastic lawn decorations. 

My Camden was magical, and I loved it. I am proud I was born there. It captivated me in my youth and it is those memories that have pulled me back. 

Why is Camden invincible? Because each new generation redefines it and creates its own memories. Working now at the college, where the Walt Whitman Hotel once stood, I am excited to again be part of the city that gave so many so much and now is poised to give great memories to another generation.

William C. Thompson is a vice president at Camden County College


America’s Choice School
Seventh and Erie Streets
Camden, New Jersey 08102

Principal: Mr. Daniel Edwards

School Profile

Pyne Poynt Middle School is an inner-city school located in Camden, New Jersey, a city noted for its poverty and high crime rate. This high crime rate accounts for neighborhood violence, which can negatively impact school climate for the students and staff. Population demographics include a 70% rate of single parent families, a student mobility rate of 36% and a public assistance rate of approximately 50%. Ninety-eight percent of our students are eligible for free lunch. The cultural makeup of the school is approximately 60% Hispanic and 40% Black. Approximately 40% of our students are classified as Special Needs students.

Despite its many problems, Pyne Poynt’s mission is to insure that no student is left behind. We have many programs in place to achieve this end. Sylvan Lab, Compass Learning Center and Boxer Math provide individual tutoring and constant assessment to determine individual needs in reading and math. In addition, there are many school, district, and community sponsored activities to encourage students to achieve their full potential. Among these activities are ASPIRA, Platform Learning, Sylvan Lab Extended Day, Light Span and extended day tutoring. We feel that our data driven instruction will lead to an increase in our test scores in Language Arts Literacy and Math. The Unified Curriculum, another district initiative, insures that all students receive the same quality instruction.

The guidance department works with the children individually and in groups to address issues that have a negative impact on student learning. Through their efforts we have witnessed a significant improvement in our students’ self-esteem and in their attitudes toward school. We also have a student volunteer effort in which students raise money for a local senior citizens home and visit the home to distribute gifts. We also have volunteers who go to a local elementary school to tutor the younger students there.

Our Whole School Reform model, America’s Choice, is a strong, literacy-based program in which the students are immersed in a literacy and writing environment. One component of America’s Choice is the 25-Book Campaign. This activity encourages each child to read a minimum of 25 books during the school year with the goal being to develop both an extensive vocabulary and a life long love of reading.

Another component of the America’s Choice model is the Ramp-Up program. Students who enter sixth grade reading two or more grades below level are introduced to a rich, challenging literacy program. The teacher follows the same students for both sixth and seventh grades, insuring continuity of instruction. The goal is that by eighth grade these students will be reading at grade level.

Our Parents’ Center offers many activities and classes to encourage involvement by the parents. Our building Facilitator, Community School Coordinator, and Health and Human Resources Coordinator coordinate these activities. Through their efforts, the parents are made to feel welcome in our school.

One of Pyne Poynt’s most ambitious undertakings is an “Authentic Book Writing” project in which each student in the school authors his or her own book, complete with table of contents, acknowledgements, poems, and graphics. The entire school, including bilingual and special needs students undertakes this project each year with enthusiasm that has surprised even the most optimistic teacher.

Pyne Poynt has a state of the art video system that enables constant surveillance both inside and outside of the school building. In addition to three full time security guards, the school has recently installed a metal detector that each person entering the building must pass through. Although Pyne Poynt is located in a high crime area, both the students and the community view the school as a “safe haven” where children are protected and learning is the main priority.

Our teachers are a crucial part of Pyne Poynt’s success. They are open to new ideas and teaching methods and willingly go through an intense training schedule to keep them abreast of the latest education-based research. All teachers are encouraged to utilize technology in their classrooms and most of them have embraced the computer as a learning tool. Students routinely do research on the Internet, type reports using word processing applications, do art projects, and generally enjoy the benefits of the “technological age”. Our teachers come in early and stay late to insure the successful implementation of our new and innovative programs. They treat our students with respect, discipline, and compassion. Our students truly are “our children.” 

Daniel Edwards

Pyne Poynt Middle School has been designated as a renovation project. The architect selected for the design of this school is Design Resource Group of Raritan, NJ. The architect’s design includes an additional 5,000 square feet to the existing structure. These designs have been presented to the Camden Board of Education for approval. The additional space will provide the needed space for the new media center and expansion to the existing corridors to improve the circulation of the facility.

The building interior will be renovated throughout with new finishes. The proposed school includes 26 classrooms and Special education spaces that will be occupied by 520 students in grades 7 through 9. The completed school design will also include school to career labs, science labs, music rooms, a gymnasium, an auditorium and various other supporting spaces. The exterior grounds surrounding the school will also be improved to provide athletic fields and open space.

The school is currently in the design phase. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2005 with a completed school area of 97,272 square feet. The construction cost of this renovation project is estimated at $13,601,063.

Last updated: 6/15/2004

Class of June 1962

Class of June 1962

Class of June 1962

Class of June 1962

1964 Faculty from School Yearbook

Pyne Poynt Middle School Website