Forty young women who recently graduated from Westwood High School left with a basic knowledge of self-defense, courtesy of a grant from the Foundation for Westwood Education.

The foundation funded female self-defense classes in the spring, and two sessions of 20 seniors each filled up within a few hours, according to foundation spokeswoman Maryann Wattendorf.

She said the proposal for training came from a member of the senior class, Mary Kate Comer, who saw the need for young women going off to school to know how to recognize dangerous situations and how to avoid or deal with them.

A female Sheehan Elementary School teacher who has a black belt in martial arts taught the classes, Wattendorf said.


"All the feedback has been great," she said.

"The participants report feeling safer and more prepared, even with just one two-hour session. Students feel more confident going away."

The Foundation for Westwood Education is a private nonprofit organization that raises money and awards grants to enhance education in the public schools.

Since 1991, the foundation has awarded about $935,000 in education grants.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com.