Announcements and News

The Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools at Conard High School

The Foundation's mission is to provide financial support for educational projects, programs, and initiatives that will enhance and enliven the classroom experience and promote excellence in West Hartford Public Schools.

The Foundation raises funds from individuals, businesses, and civic groups in the community as well as alumni nationwide. Gifts of $1,000 or more entitle the donor to honor an individual, business or civic group by having the Foundation name a grant. Once a year, certified teachers throughout the school district are invited to apply for grants ranging from $200 to $3,500 for a project that will enhance student experience, complement the curriculum and demonstrate educational merit. A Foundation committee reviews the applications with the teacher's name and school removed. After approval by the Foundation board, awards are presented in late spring of each year.

To learn more about the Foundation or make a donation, please visit

Check out the grants awarded to Conard for the 2019-2020 school year:


Cricket Press Grant: Pathfinders: Increasing Independent Orientation for Students with Special Needs Christina Foreman, Lead Teacher (King Philip) & Melinda Calhoun (Conard), Mary Beth Manzi (Wolcott) 

Throughout our district, there are students with visual and cognitive limitations that make using written and pictorial schedules and door signs (bathroom, teacher's name, classroom labels) ineffective tools for determining location. These students do not have a consistent way to find their way around without adult intervention (ex. telling the student where they are or physically guiding the student to stop at a specific location). This grant would be used to purchase lab time at Perkins School for the Blind, as well as the materials that are needed to create tactile visual schedules and the corresponding door objects. Students at King Philip Middle School, Conard High School and Wolcott Elementary School would then be taught by their Speech Language Pathologist to match the object on their schedule to the object on the door frame of their destination. 

J.P. Carroll Construction Grant: Bits and Bytes Alison Foley, Lead Teacher (Smith) & Jackie Corricelli (Conard) 

Bits and Bytes, a partnership between Smith STEM Elementary School and Conard High School, will provide 30-40 students with an opportunity to teach and learn about computer science with an emphasis on collaboration and problem solving. The Bits and Bytes partnership will complement both the fourth grade elementary curriculum and the high school curriculum as students utilize the eight mathematical practices while coding. Fourth grade students and high school students will meet six times in person to work on collaborative computer science activities and projects that extend beyond these meetings. This experience culminates in the fourth graders visiting their mentees to see "STEM in action" at the high school. This partnership will hopefully open the door for students to consider computer science opportunities at the next level of their educational career and beyond. 

Hawkins Family Grant: Go Baby Go! Using Engineering and Adaptive Technology to Modify Ride-On Cars for Children with Limited Mobility Michael Wilkosz, Lead Teacher (Hall) & Anthony Truss (Conard), Sebastian Fortuna (Hall), Nicholas Adler (Sedgwick), Nevin Picard (King Philip) 

"Go Baby Go!" is an example of what is broadly referred to as "toy hacking", or the adaption of commercially available toys for children with special needs. Through this project, toy ride-on cars are purposefully modified for use by children with mobility limitations, thereby empowering them to participate in play with their peers. In April 2015, Central Connecticut State University held its first "Go Baby Go!" workshop where students adapted eight off-the-shelf, electric toy cars so they could be used by children with disabilities who were present that day with their families. CCSU has since collaborated with over a dozen more build events where faculty and college students have worked with middle and high school students across the state to provide adapted ride-ons to over 75 children with disabilities. This grant serves to establish a partnership between West Hartford Public Schools and the Central C.A.R.E.S. club. Two Go Baby Go! build events are planned for the spring of 2020 in West Hartford. Students at King Philip, Bristow and Sedgwick Middle Schools and Hall and Conard High Schools will join a growing base of volunteers and work to enhance the lives of children with special needs by bringing them mobility in the form adapted, electric ride-on cars. 

Hoffman Auto Group: Farm-in-School: Bringing sustainably grown food into our school cafeteria Timothy Kessler, Lead Teacher & Marcy Zacchea, Julio Duarte 

The Farm-in-School grant engages students to make healthier and more responsible food choices as part of their daily school routines by involving students in each and every aspect of the food production pipeline (from farm to table). In science classes students will explore what are optimal growing conditions for various crops and conduct a cost benefit analysis for growing their own food versus purchasing food from national vendors. In foods classes student will develop menus that utilize the various produce that will be grown and help create opportunities to engage students in the tasting process for the food grown in the school. Food service staff will incorporate the collected produce into school lunches and provide students with live cooking demonstrations about how this produce can be used to create healthy food choices for all students. Overall, this grant will provide students the opportunity to explore how to make healthier food by engaging in the farm to table experience right here in their own school. 

O'Meara Real Estate Group Grant: That Happened in West Hartford? Local History in the Classroom Chad Ellis, Lead Teacher (Hall/ King Philip) & Steve Bassi (Conard), Patrick McManus (Hall), Lindsay Roberts (Charter Oak), Tracy Scutari (Duffy) 

This grant will aid both teachers and students at Conard and Hall High schools and Charter Oak International Academy and Duffy elementary schools in integrating the study of local history into the history curriculum. Dr. Tracey M. Wilson, term historian and retired WHPS school teacher, is also the author of "Life in West Hartford". She will be the historian in residence in 9 classrooms as she assists students in analyzing a variety of primary sources to increase their knowledge of local history. 

Optometric Specialty Group: Voces8 Workshop Samuel Eurich, Lead Teacher 

This grant will provide West Hartford High School choir students an opportunity to work with the professional choral ensemble, VOCES8, and their director Paul Smith. VOCES8 is one of the premier choral ensembles in the world currently, originating in the United Kingdom. The host school's entire program as well as guest select ensembles from neighboring Connecticut high schools will work with VOCES8 in a workshop featuring The VOCES8 Method. VOCES8 will be performing a concert at St. James Episcopal Church in West Hartford as part of their visit to West Hartford. All students that participate in the workshop will be able to take the lessons they learn and apply them to their own ensembles and performances. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for West Hartford choir students to work with an internationally acclaimed group such as VOCES8. 

Papasavas Family Grant: A Trip to the United Nations Montserrat Rich, Lead Teacher (Charter Oak) & Abigail Esposito (Conard) 

In this unique experience, 58 fifth grade students at Charter Oak International Academy along with 18 Conard High School students from the human rights class, will have an amazing experience visiting the United Nations in New York City. The students will be welcomed by a multilingual tour guide and taken on a journey through the corridors of international diplomacy where they will learn about the history and structure of the UN. The students will learn how the United Nations deals with issues such as promotion of human rights, disarmament, peacekeeping and sustainable development. The students will observe numerous exhibits and artifacts related to the UN's mission. Following the trip, students will work with grade level peers to reflect on and extend their learning, culminating in a human rights forum between the fifth graders and the high school students. 

State Farm Insurance Agent, Mario Russo Grant: Alternative Energy with Algae Bio-reactors Timothy Decker, Lead Teacher 

As America looks for greener alternative fuels to limit the impact of climate change and create a more energy independent economy, microscopic green algae hold great promise. Algae do not have the land requirements of other bio-fuels, like ethanol produced from corn or oil from palm trees. Algae do not also compete with food resources, forcing humans to choose between alternative energy or agricultural crops for human consumption. Growing algae in bio-reactors offers the possibility of growing large quantities of algae in a very limited space. The future of our economy is based on innovation and this project will introduce Conard High School students to the industrial applications of algae and show them how this technology can possibly be applied to the Northeastern United States where space is limited and the weather constantly changes. As students learn about this technology it will allow them to think critically, brainstorming innovative ways to reduce production costs while trying to maximize the growth rates of algae. This project may be just one small step in learning about the bio-fuels industry however, it could possibly lead to a new economic model within our local communities. 

Steve and Kathryn Deane Family Grant: Ocean Awareness Virgil Handberry, Lead Teacher 

In this ocean awareness project, students at Conard High School will have a hands on opportunity to build and maintain a saltwater tank. The tanks will be assembled and placed in a highly visible area of the school, to be seen by all. This is a school wide project and will educate all students about the ocean through observations, video announcements and lessons on this valuable environment. On completion of this project all students will see the delicate nature of the marine ecosystem and the importance of protecting it. 

Tom & Carol Lorenzo Grant: Leveling the Playing Field Lori Foote, Lead Teacher & Jessica Blitzer (Conard) 

Leveling the Playing Field is a project being created to assist first-generation (college) students from the Class of 2023 at Hall and Conard and their families by giving them the tools and information needed to participate in a successful post-secondary planning process. First-generation students and families do not have the benefit of past post-secondary planning experiences, and thus lack the awareness of what the process will be like, the vocabulary necessary to understand the process, awareness of the financial aid process, or simply the importance of selecting courses that will enable them to make the most out of their high school transcript. This program is designed to be more targeted in helping give these students and their families the necessary tools and information to help them be more involved, engaged, and feeling more confident throughout high school and throughout the post-secondary planning process. At the very least the hope is to give students and families the "starter package" to what is to come which will allow them to be fully prepared. In the end, we want to remove the barriers to a quality education and key information for the post-secondary process -Leveling the Playing Field. 

West Hartford SEPTO Grant: Employability Skills For All Neil Cummings, Lead Teacher & Joanne Ruggiero, Carol Brusa 

Employability skills for all students are essential for future success in the workplace. For students with disabilities, the teaching of these skills at an early age is imperative. Young adults, in high school , need the structure and direct skill teaching in order to develop their work ethic. Work ethic and other soft employability skills; taking initiative, problem solving, teamwork and customer service are stressed by employers. This project will focus on building employability skills for youth with disabilities so that they will have future opportunities to work and contribute to the community.