Graduation is just around the corner, and Mercer Island High School (MIHS) seniors Walker Guerra and Bella Hartman say they’ve faced some challenges during this academic school year as they tread one step closer to receiving their diplomas.
Students everywhere have endured a tough 2020-2021 by tackling remote and hybrid learning and missing out on copious school events due to the pandemic.
Enter Mercer Trade Inc. — a company deftly run by the MIHS senior international entrepreneurship class — which is working in tandem with Island Treats to sell customizable gifts to celebrate the local students who will be advancing into the next stages of their lives.
CFO Guerra, who will launch his college career by studying finance at Santa Clara University in the fall, said the gifts are geared toward not only MIHS seniors, but students moving from elementary to Islander Middle School and from there to high school. The see-through plastic containers will feature four of Island Treats’ popular pretzel items, and the bags can be adorned with the graduates’ new school colors.
The gifts are $10 each and can be purchased at https://wa-mercerisland-
CEO Hartman, who will attend Northeastern University and major in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship, noted: “I know this year was hard for everybody, regardless of whether it was picking a college or getting into a college. And so I think that this is just a nice way to give everyone a sweet treat and bring everyone together as an Island. Whether they’re staying on the Island or going elsewhere.”
The Mercer Trade Inc. leadership team is rounded out by COO Natalie Sim, who will attend the University of Washington and major in pre-business. Supporting the community and local businesses has been one of the main bullet points on the company’s docket this year.
“(It’s been) such a tumultuous year where businesses can’t go out and sell their goods in a big stage like a local sporting event or whatnot,” Guerra said. “So if we’re able to make that event for them, and then help support them while creating something that supports the Island as a whole, I think it’s pretty mutually beneficial.”
MIHS international entrepreneurship teacher Jen McLellan said it is truly inspiring to witness her students run the company well and connect with the supportive business community during a year of uncertainties.
Island Treats owner Ann Peterson said the her company is elated to be on board with Mercer Trade Inc. on this community-building project.
“They’ve worked so hard through the pandemic and are continually striving to find creative and thoughtful ways to show spirit and support for one another,” she said. “They impressed us with their professionalism from start to finish. It’s also a fun project for us because adding a little sweetness to someone’s celebration is why we’re in business.”
For Guerra and Hartman, they’ve faced the challenges head-on and have added some new assets to their personal repertoires.
Team building with Hartman, Sim and his other Mercer Trade Inc. colleagues has been vital for Guerra as he eyes the future.
“I think that helps a lot when you head into a school with a lot of kids that you don’t know, just being able to introduce yourself and work well with each other,” Guerra said.
Hartman feels she’s matured on the professional level with some events that she planned this year, including a presentation with Holocaust survivors during the virtual Islander Hour.
“I’ve been forced to be creative with the way that I do things in my everyday life. So I think that’s definitely going to help me next year,” she said.