Mercer Island High School (MIHS) is preparing to graduate its Class of 2019 on June 11.
Of the hundreds of graduating seniors, two students stood out in the eyes of the district: Grace Z. Zhang and Max Tanzer.
Both Zhang and Tanzer moved to the Island half way through third grade. Now, they are preparing to leave the Island to pursue college degrees: Tanzer will attend Ithaca College in New York, and Zhang will attend Scripps College in California.
Many Islanders may recognize Tanzer, at least by his voice, as he has served on the school’s radio station KMIH 88.9 The Bridge all four years of high school. Tanzer has developed into an accomplished play-by-play announcer calling football and basketball games for the station and hosting his “Mariners Max” show with his encyclopedic knowledge of baseball and other sports.
Tanzer said he never really considered radio — much less baseball — until he moved to the Island. He said he credits his growing interest and success in radio to the radio station’s teacher Joe Bryant.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere without him,” he said.
Tanzer said over his past four years at MIHS he has been fortunate to be a part of a “great and welcoming community” that has allowed him to discover his passions with people who share the same passions.
“More than anything, I’m grateful for all the relationships and friendships I’ve made during my time here,” he said. “We’re also fortunate to go to a school that has a lot of great resources and things to get involved with — the radio station, the newspaper, sports — and a lot of other kids don’t have those opportunities.”
Tanzer said his advice to underclassmen would be to work hard, “take care of your homework, but don’t let school and grades kill you… Try to find a healthy balance between school and a social life.”
Tanzer plans to study sports broadcasting at Ithaca College.
Zhang has also been involved with school and clubs throughout her time at MIHS. Zhang recently combined her passion for art with science for the Student BioExpo at Shoreline Community College in which she received first place. Her paper, “Craniopharyngioma and Panhypopituitarism,” provided her with the opportunity to present a physical representation of her diagnosis of Craniopharyngioma.
Zhang was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, Craniopharyngioma, at the beginning of her freshman year at MIHS. While she said it was difficult at first, she credits her diagnosis with helping her enjoy life to its fullest.
Her paper detailed her diagnosis, treatment and recovery of the tumor as well as showed how the tumor affected other parts of her brain and life.
“I don’t see [the tumor] as a destroyer,” she said. “It reawakened my interest in taking risks, to take action and to enjoy life…it made me realize how disposable life can be and made me want to live life to the fullest.”
Similar to Tanzer, Zhang said the relationships and friendships she developed during her time at MIHS have provided her genuine joy.
“The community here has been really inclusive,” she said.
Zhang said her advice to underclassmen would be to “just do what you genuinely enjoy because you never know what you might find joy in and how you’ll find yourself.”
“You’re not defined by your experiences but you are defined by what you do and the choices you make because of them,” she said.