Project '79 Parents

Welcome to the 2021-2022 School Year

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For more information or to schedule a visit, contact:

Jackie Spring

Coordinator 908.789.4500 x4188

Maureen Mazzarese

Guidance Supervisor 908.789.4500 x4538


The program was conceived in the mid-1970s when Westfield Superintendent Laurence F. Greene identified the need to support students at risk of dropping out of WHS. Led by Alan Lantis, a team of teachers spent nearly two years researching various alternative education settings throughout the northeast. They learned that a successful program needed to support the cognitive as well as affective domains of students: this new program had to be rigorous, relevant, and based on solid teacher-student relationships.

There are many factors, often unrelated to school, that impinge on young people, affecting the way they learn. With disconnected students, these factors often make the learning process secondary. Project '79 is an attempt to reach these students by combining a strong academic program with an equally strong humanistic approach in a setting where individual impediments to learning can be identified and addressed. As they explore their strengths in a supportive learning community, students grow more successful as members of Westfield High School who contribute to our program and the world at large.

As the result of its small footprint and collaborative structure, Project ’79 is ideally positioned to innovate. In the early 1990s Project ‘79 developed the Senior Project that was later adopted by the entire WHS English Department. Since 2004 we have engaged resident artists to guide our students and staff to produce public works of theater, poetry, sculpture, painting, and film. During summer work trips from 2008 to 2012, we were the first public school group to partner with Foundation for Peace in the Dominican Republic. We built a school, medical clinic, and water purification center. When they were juniors, the Class of 2014 became the first cohort of students selected to pilot BYOD in all their classes.

Our current goals include preparing students for collaboration, inquiry, and personal organization/task management. As we look to our future as digital citizens, we want to explore learning as a means to engage more students more fully in a wider range of creative challenges.

Classroom Closeup, 2012

Project ‘79 graduates from the classes of 2016, 2017 and 2018 have made a variety of choices following WHS, including post-secondary study, careers, and military service, in addition to pursuing further study at the following institutions: Universal Technical Institute, University of Tennessee, Delaware State University, Temple University, Saint Joseph’s College New York, Union County College, Johnson and Wales University, State University of New York at Purchase, Rowan University, New England College, University of North Texas, University of the Arts Philadelphia, West Virginia University, Montclair University, Ave Maria University, University of Hawaii, Dean College, San Diego State University, Quinnipiac University, Towson University, Monmouth University, Loyola University, Susquehanna University, Drexel University, Elon University, Loyola University of Maryland, Rutgers University, High Point University.

We appeal to folks in this building who not only care about acceptance into great colleges but are also driven by a desire to develop greater student engagement in the learning process - the kind of engagement that will allow them to be active and informed participants wherever they go after WHS.

-Jackie Spring, Project Coordinator

How many of the following apply to you?

  • Do better in classes where you like the teacher

  • Often overwhelmed by schoolwork

  • Learn best through trying things yourself

  • Prefer smaller class sizes

  • Other priorities before homework

  • Frequent procrastination

  • Grades no not reflect your real ability

  • Average to superior intelligence

  • Not really interested in school clubs or activities

  • Interested in art, music or other personal expression

  • Inconsistent grades or attendance

  • Fight with parents about school

  • Want school to feel different