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A group of Clairton High School graduates who have gained success in their chosen professions and life have banned together to help current Clairton High School students do the same thing through the Clairton High School Mentorship Program.

“We want to provide a positive atmosphere for the kids. Our main goal is to get them through high school. We are trying to reach the unreachables,” said Terrance Fort, one of the founding members of the initiative, which currently has about 117 people. About 95 percent of those involved are graduates of Clairton High School.

MENTORS—Front row, from left: James Washington, Pauline Long, Toni Schley, Louise Walker, Rev. Jonathan Robinson and Stewart Schley. Back row, from left: Ted Kay, Terrance Fort and Sean Thomas.

Professional adults in the program volunteer their personal time, usually through giving presentations at Clairton High School to the junior and senior classes. The presentations focus on such topics as career building resources, academics and personal development.

“This is for all of the students, whether they can bounce a basketball or throw a football or not,” Fort said.

Since its creation earlier this year, the Clairton High School Mentorship Program has held four assemblies for students in grades 7 through 12.

“The Clairton school system has had such a bad reputation that we decided to come back to the school and help the kids and give them some hope and inspiration and try to motivate them,” said Louise Walker, a 1983 graduate of Clairton High School who currently resides in Swissvale. She holds an MBA, Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and associate degrees as a surgical technician and paralegal.

Walker, who has been a member of the group for about two months, has spoken to students about how to obtain summer employment and how to qualify for scholarships.

“Growing up here in Clairton we didn’t have many resources and we didn’t have people coming into the community talking to us and providing inspiration,” Walker said.

Former Clairton resident and 1967 Clairton High School graduate Ted Kay helped create the Clairton High School Mentor Group because of the countless opportunities available to today’s young people.

“There are doctors, lawyers and people everywhere that are successful. We want to bring awareness to what’s out there and how to get there. We focus on education and we drive the point home that more opportunities will come if you put your mind on your education,” said Kay who lives outside of Detroit. Kay found success in the financial arena as the vice-president of finance at General Motors.

Clairton High School Mentorship Program members hope to hold several other assemblies on various topics this year including a mock job interview for seniors, which will include answering questions on how to prepare them for today’s job market.

The group also wants to teach the juniors about filling out applications for scholarships and other money available for college.

“By the time the kids are filling out their scholarship applications, the money is gone. We want them to know that there are thousands of websites out there about scholarships that the kids may not know about,” Kay said. “We want to get the parents involved too because sometimes the parents don’t know that there are requirements they need.”

Anyone interested in speaking to the students or joining the Clairton High School Mentorship Program should contact Walker at louisewalker12@msn.com

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