La Salle Institute's Advanced Marketing Class Redefines 'Hands-On' Experience

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TROY, N.Y. -- In a common high school classroom at La Salle Institute, you'll find a quite uncommon class; the Advanced Marketing class.

About dozen high school seniors are trying to accomplish things that affect real businesses and real people around the world.

"They work with companies from around the world on projects that are impactful to those companies, that means something to the bottom line," said Michael Levy, business teacher.

The young men are behind marketing strategies for local companies such as Sunmark Federal Credit Union and Albany's Palace Theatre. It even works with Marlborough of England, a luxury handbag maker in London.

"To see their ads and know that we created that and most of the work wasn't done by a professional overseas, that it was done by us and that's a pretty neat experience," said Ben Santandera, La Salle senior.

While the students get one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience, the service is free for the companies they work with.

"They are doing real-world business," Levy said. "They're not just learning theory and walking away."

Kevin Kearney has worked with La Salle marketing students for 3 years. His company, Excel Aquatics, has rebranded and grown by more than 300 percent.

"We would have gotten to this point eventually but it would have taken a lot longer and it would have been a much rockier road," Kearney said.

Rather Excel Aquatics is on a smooth road thanks to a group of high schoolers.

"The perspective is not only from an adult that's in the career that's been in the business for lets say 10 years, it's also from a new perspective that can relate to the younger buyers," Santandera added.

"These businesses really depend on our kids to come through from them and they do," said Levy.

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