What you don’t know about Project ‘79

Many students are unaware of the resources WHS has to offer, and Project ‘79 is one resource that more students should utilize.

Project ‘79 is an academic alternative program where students who are struggling in their classes have the opportunity to learn in a different and more personalized setting. The program welcomes all students who thrive in a more community-based academic environment.

According to Project Coordinator Jacqueline Spring, the idea of Project ‘79 began in 1977 as an action-research project. A team of teachers and administrators worked together to form a quality alternative program where struggling students with the potential to do well in school could succeed. After two years of planning, Project ‘79 was officially created.

In the program, the community-based environment permits students to develop a relationship with their teachers and fellow classmates so that they are more comfortable putting themselves out there. This allows students to not only grow academically, but as people too.

“It’s really important because it’s a place where students have a voice,” said Spring. She added, “Teachers in this program want to hear the thoughts their students have. These connections last beyond high school too.”

Students can join Project ‘79 at any time throughout their academic career at WHS. Each student in Project ‘79 is there voluntarily because the student-teacher relationship is key to their academic success.

A benefit that Project ‘79 holds over traditional courses is the ability for teachers to play an even larger role in the success of their students. “WHS has 1850 kids,” said BOE President and former Project ‘79 student Brendan Galligan. “It’s very easy to get lost in that sea, and if somebody is offering you a lifeline, take it.”

Many students at WHS don’t know what Project ‘79 entails which is why they have not considered it. Freshman, sophomores and juniors are given the options to take history, math and English in Project ‘79, while seniors are offered English and vote on a history elective they would like each year.

Students are advised to take all the classes Project ‘79 has to offer unless they cannot because of a scheduling conflict. The classes are taught by some teachers who teach both regular courses and Project ‘79 classes, as well as teachers who teach exclusively Project ‘79 classes.

Still, each teacher makes sure the content being taught in Project ‘79 is the same as regular classes, and the only difference is the more comforting atmosphere of the class.

Junior in Project ‘79 Addy Mulholland said, “Before Project, I felt like I was the only person who did not understand the work given to me in my classes. In Project ‘79, the teachers always make you feel like it is fine and personally work with you to get you back on track.”

The program does activities each year to keep the community aspect of Project ‘79 alive. Although COVID-19 has put a pause on field trips, they still do things like community-wide breakfasts, after school events, Project ‘79 specific activity periods and an end of year banquet.

“I would love more kids to know about our program,” said Spring. “A lot of people see it as a welcoming place that actually could support both the academic growth of kids and just better their experience at WHS.”