Graduation news

The class of 2014 valedictorians are, from left, Peter Litzow, Devina Kumar, Rachel Van Gelder and Mary Wingerson, all pictured on MIHS College Sweatshirt Day. Not pictured is fifth valedictorian Shalva Kohen.  - Randy Bolerjack /Special to the Reporter
The class of 2014 valedictorians are, from left, Peter Litzow, Devina Kumar, Rachel Van Gelder and Mary Wingerson, all pictured on MIHS College Sweatshirt Day. Not pictured is fifth valedictorian Shalva Kohen.
— image credit: Randy Bolerjack /Special to the Reporter

Cadet Stewart Hackett Landefeld, son of Stewart M. Landefeld and Margaret Breen of Mercer Island, received a degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on May 28 at commencement exercises attended by President Barack Obama.

Landefeld graduated from Lakeside School in 2010. While at West Point, he concentrated his studies in chemical engineering. He was a member of the varsity crew team and a bagpiper with the Corps Pipes and Drums. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army within the Engineering branch and will report to Fort Campbell, Ky. for his first assignment with the 101st Airborne Division.

The U.S. Military Academy in New York, was founded in 1802 as America's first college of engineering.

Yellow Wood Academy of Mercer Island would like to congratulate its 2014 graduates. They include Islanders Peter Erickson, Justin Hunter, and Kathryn McCann. A graduation ceremony will be held on June 12, at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. For more, visit

Mandy Marie Berman, a 2009 graduate of Mercer Island High School, graduated from the University of Washington in fall of 2013, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration, Cum Laude, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education with K-12 teaching certification.

Danielle Kleiner-Kanter, the daughter of Susan Kleiner and Jeffrey Kanter of Mercer Island and a graduate of Mercer Island High School, graduated from Macalester College on Saturday, May 17.  Kleiner-Kanter received a liberal arts degree in Anthropology.

Islander graduate Brett Mills received a bachelor of science degree in physics from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif., on May 18, 2014.

Siri Timm Drangsholt, a member of the Mercer Island High School class of 2004,  has received the degree of Doctor of Medicine from University of Southern California, the Keck School of Medicine. She will do a urology residency at New York University.

Five valedictorians named for the Mercer Island High School class of 2014

There are five valedictorians for the Mercer Island High School class of 2014. They are Shalva Kohen, Devina Kumar, Peter Litzow, Rachel Van Gelder and Mary Wingerson. Each has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average throughout their four years at MIHS.

Rachel Van Gelder, who has been in the district since the end of sixth grade and will attend Dartmouth College in the fall, says, “The Mercer Island community has been uniquely supportive in helping me reach my goals by providing the resources necessary for my success, but not pushing me in any specific direction. This has allowed me to take charge of my education and personalize it without being punished for taking risks.” She hopes to pursue a career in global health or international medicine.

Mary Wingerson said that  “every adult in my life has been extremely supportive. My parents started reading to me before I could talk.” She attended Lakeridge Elementary, West Mercer Elementary, Islander Middle School (IMS) and MIHS. “My parents inspired my love of learning and my teachers nourished it,” she said. Wingerson will attend Yale University in the fall and hopes to help bring quality healthcare to developing nations.

Performing in RENT last spring and marching in the Rose Parade with the band his sophomore year were two of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences for Peter Litzow, who will be attending Stanford University. He said “My math teachers attend all of my plays and the principals come to every band concert. I am truly grateful for all of their support.” He attended Island Park Elementary, IMS and MIHS.

Shalva Kohen plans to study computer engineering at Columbia University.

“Eventually I want to work in robotics and build machines that will better the world,” she said. “My parents have always made education a priority. They would always help me with my homework and tirelessly explain difficult-to-understand concepts. My teachers likewise have always gone above and beyond to help me learn.”

“The Mercer Island School District and the Mercer Island community are absolutely incredible. Every single opportunity I have received because of this community has helped me grow both as a person and a student,” said Devina Kumar. “Every day, I am especially astounded by how incredible my teachers are. They are passionate about teaching and are truly dedicated to my learning.”

Kumar started at Lakeridge Elementary then attended West Mercer Elementary, IMS and MIHS and will attend Dartmouth College. She has been playing violin since she was four and added that, “One of my favorite memories from high school is playing senior solo with the orchestra. It was exciting to see my years of learning culminate in a six-minute concerto.”



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