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Clarence High School Students Receive Mentorship Through Academy

: Shariq Jalal, of Management Planning Inc., works with Clarence High School junior Sarah Reid.

As Clarence High School students met with career mentors from the community, the students weren’t just learning about the world of business. They were getting a chance to think about where their future may take them. 

“They’re leveraging connections to help students develop their careers, and they help them develop their skill set,” said Heather Hartmann, director of the school’s Academy of Business and Finance.

The mentorship program is just one of the many activities offered through the academy to help students’ development, following curriculum from national non-profit NAF. The Clarence academy offers opportunities for internships and job shadowing, hands-on projects with local organizations and courses that offer college credit.

Through the beginning of November, sophomore, junior and senior students met with their mentors, representing companies and government agencies including M&T Bank, the Grand Island Fun Center, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Amazon Web Services and Howard Hanna. The academy has approximately 70 mentors to help students, who sign up for three-year terms to work with their partner students. 

“It’s providing students with experiences that they don’t get in a traditional classroom,” Hartmann said.

One of the professional mentors, Shariq Jalal, assistant vice president at Management Planning Inc., said he liked giving back to the school community.

“The students become a lot more confident, and that comes from the structure and training to make them better communicators,” he said. 

Alyssa Carlson, a junior who said she was interested in law school in her future, said she liked hearing from different employers about what skills are valued in the workplace.

“It’s definitely an experience that I really value,” she said.

Louis Mancuso, a senior in the academy, said he has made connections with dozens of professionals in the area through his experiences with the academy, including a project to develop ideas to increase employee engagement at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

“I know once I’m done in high school, I’ll have this network for college and beyond,” Mancuso said.

Those networking connections can help well beyond the students’ high school years, said Anne Gaume, an area retail leader with KeyBank who has been affiliated with the academy for six years. She said she has seen students whose academy experience helped them break through a crowded pile of applications to land a job interview. Gaume also said students go beyond their classroom learning to cultivate soft skills like communication and leadership. 

“It’s great to see them grow and develop,” Gaume said. 

More information about the Clarence Academy of Business and Finance can be found at

Lauren Hartmann, with Riveron, works with Clarence High School junior Anabella Fanara

Clarence High School students speak with David Glian from the Grand Island Fun Center during a mentorship program.