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January 17, 2017

Volume VI, Edition 3

A photography teacher’s journey to a meaningful career Sophie Poole staff writer

Student artwork and inspirational quotes cover the four walls of Laura Totten’s classroom. The colorful and creative decorations create a welcoming atmosphere, offering a respite from the beige-toned walls and harsh, fluorescent lights of hallways and classrooms. In Room 502, students grab their cameras and venture out into the building to take pictures. Inside the classroom, Totten plays calming music, helps with Photoshop problems, answers camera questions, and provides creative direction. The love she has for teaching art to her students is clear. “I want my students to feel joyful when they’re taking pictures,� Totten said. Her classes manage to be challenging yet cheerful,

time-consuming yet stress free. Totten did not always dream of pursuing photography, only stumbling upon the subject in college when she signed up for a photography class to be with a friend. “I didn’t know that I would love it so much,� she said. She earned a degree in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno. When she moved to Seattle, Totten worked initially as a copywriter at an advertising agency. However, she found herself struggling to emotionally connect to this career. “It was hard for me to promote things that I didn’t care about,� she said. “So, I quit that job.� As her passion for advertising waned, Totten never forgot her love for photography. She started assisting photographers with differ-

ent jobs. As she learned from different mentors, she began to receive small jobs that other photographers did not want. “I photographed this guy’s wedding and he worked for the ad agency that did all the marketing for the Seahawks,� Totten said. “He loved his wedding pictures, so he asked me to photograph the Seahawks and do all their marketing.� She initially protested, claiming she was not a sports fan. Her lack of exposure to sports was the exact reason she was offered the job. It was her ability to capture the unique qualities of people within a photograph that won her the highly coveted position. When the Seattle Sounders MLS soccer team was established in 2009, Totten was asked to photograph each of the new players. Her career in sports pho-



tography continued to grow, but Totten still continued to search for freelance work in the Seattle area. Totten’s love for music and photography collided when she landed a job photographing musicians for KEXP, the local radio station. “I used to donate to the radio station,� Totten said. “I met someone who knew someone at the station and I said, ‘How do you get to be a photographer there?’Asking questions and networking and unusual connections really plugged me in.� For the writing of this article, I brought in photos of different musicians that Totten had photographed, I wanted to know if there was a story behind the photos. They seemed to leap off the screen and I felt like I could almost hear the music resonating from the pictures. As (Continued on page 7)

Talk on the Rock: School Spirit

Inside Mercer Islanders’ use of HOV lanes in jeopardy. Features > Page 2

The story of Graze Zhang: synchronized swimmer. Sports > Page 3

@chocolatebark’s guide to current food trends. Spread > Page 4/5

Mercer Island High School has a long history of school spirit. In general, it’s one of the things graduates value and remember the most. However, this year, some students are noticing a decline in the zany culture MIHS has always been known for. Here’s what our journalism class and some graduated Islanders have to say.

The Islander Staff

What do you think of the flag dudes?

Graduated Islanders

Do you think the flag dudes have changed?

“This is all very new for me, but the whole flag dudes thing, I just don’t get it. I was here last year and I just thought they were making fun of themselves. I understand they’re supposed to help the school spirit, but I don’t get them.�

Patricia Pont, sophomore

What was the school spirit like during assemblies? Starbucks drinks reviewed by retired barista. A & E > Page 7

“I would definitely say as a freshmen there felt like there was a lot more spirit because there weren’t as strict regulations, but every senior class brought their own unique spirit.�

Gilda Afifi, Class of 2016

Jonathon James, junior

How do you feel about Wednesday pep assemblies?

Do you think MIHS is losing school spirit? “A lot of people think spirit is always on the decline because things seemed so much more spirited when they were underclassmen, but in reality it’s probably just because younger people are prone to romanticizing the upperclassmen.�

“I think it definitely felt less energetic. Everyone was kind of less into it, and I felt like there were less people too. I feel like normally they’re more fun.�

Maya Virdell, freshman

Teenagers are susceptible to the messages in music. Opinions > Page 6

Zeke Larson, Class of 2016

How do you think assemblies compare to those of the past? “I dont know if they have been much different, but I see less maroon and white and less people showing up. I think the assemblies are living up to expectations, it is just the student body who needs to show up.�

“We choose a line of people who are hellbent on making a difference to other students through the pure power of spirit. The flag dudes are changing, ever slightly upon the path and righteousness of spirit.

Artemis Zafari, Class of 2016

Make sure to check out our website at!



Light Rail project to remove lanes, increase traffic Ellie Gottesman staff writer

A Federal Transportation Administration-proposed plan to prevent the use of the Island Crest Way carpool onramp for single-occupancy vehicles will severely increase traffic for MIHS students, teachers, and parents. The East Link light rail, connecting Redmond and Seattle, will cross over the East Channel bridge and stop at the Mercer Island Park & Ride before continuing over the I-90 floating bridge on the current express lanes. In mid-2017, the state will permanently close the I-90 express lanes between Seattle and Mercer Island as construction continues on the light rail. “The express lanes allow us to travel more efficiently,” sophomore Cael Mulligan said. “The traffic will be awful without them.” To replace the express lanes, the outer lane of both the eastbound and westbound bridge expanses will be dedicated to high-occupancy vehicles, also referred to as HOV or carpools. The city government is negotiating with the Fed-

eral Highway Administra“I know my parents rely The traffic backlog on Istion about residents’ use on using the carpool lane to land Crest Way could negof the HOV lanes once the get to work more quickly in atively impact students and light rail is installed. Is- their individual cars,” MIHS buses driving to school, landers can use the express freshman Sophia Kershaw parents driving to work, lanes currently, even as sin- said. “The reality is that and teachers coming from gle-occupancy vehicles, be- adding the single-occupan- off Island to MIHS and othcause of an agreement with cy Mercer Island traffic to er Mercer Island schools. Washington state negotiat- the current I-90 lanes is only “If traffic worsens, I will ed by Mayor Aubrey Davis going to make overall traffic be late to school,” freshman in 1976. The agreement worse. No one in Seattle or Natalie Garrett said. “I live also permits Mercer Island Bellevue should want that, on the south end and leave residents to use the Island let alone Mercer Islanders.” my house 15 minutes beCrest Way carpool onramp All single-occupancy cars fore school starts and barely as a sinmanage to gle-occupanget to school cy vehicle. on time The ability as it is.” for Mercer The trafIsland resific increase dents to use and freeway the HOV access limlanes, howitations will ever, is now also affect in jeopardy. students The FHWA who parsays that alticipate in lowing Isextracurricland resiular activiPhoto by Ellie Gottesman dents to use Single-occupancy and carpool vehicles currently use the middle HOV lanes on I-90. ties or work new HOV in Seatlanes would be in violation that currently use the west- tle or Bellevue. of federal law. If the FHWA bound onramp at Island Other local cities are also position prevails, the Island Crest Way will have to drive struggling with this closure. Crest Way onramp to west- through multiple lights and The Bellevue Park and Ride bound I-90, which feeds stop signs in downtown will shut down as early as directly onto the new out- Mercer Island to access I-90 January when construction er HOV lanes, would be at the North Mercer Way or of the trackway begins. Aconly accessible to carpools. 76th Avenue SE onramps. cording to the South Bellev-

ue Park and Ride website, the lot provides 519 spots for citizens. As a result, these drivers will likely cross the bridge and park in the occupied Mercer Island Park and Ride or surrounding streets. Mercer Island Mayor Bruce Bassett will continue negotiations with the FHWA and push for a solution that mitigates the impact on traffic. Construction begins in less than a year. In the meantime, the best ways for students to affect the outcome is to stay involved, carpool, and prepare to take a position through letter-writing and advocacy when the appropriate time comes. “Continue to communicate on behalf of your schools and the importance of keeping our great educators on the island,” Deputy Mayor Debbie Bertlin said. “Come to a Council meeting and provide your concerns.” The Mercer Island City Council is working hard to find a positive solution for residents who commute to and from Mercer Island according to Christina Hendelman, the Mercer Island PTSA Vice President of Advocacy.

The college process from an outsider’s perspective Isabel Funk staff writer

Brother and sister John and Jane Doe returned home from school on a breezy Friday afternoon in October, eager to relax a bit before the upcoming week. High school freshman John flopped onto the couch and turned on the TV, flipping through channels lazily. Jane headed up to her room with her laptop to work on an essay for a college application. John and their parents didn’t notice; this had recently become a very typical way for Jane to spend her afternoons. As the evening progressed, John went to find his sister. “Dinner’s ready,” John said, standing in the doorway to her room. “Tell Mom I’ll be down in a minute. I’m trying to think of how I’m diverse,” Jane

replied with a smile. John left to leave his sister in peace. Around the country, millions of high school seniors are preparing and applying for college, just like Jane Doe. Younger siblings watch in concern as seniors retreat night after night to work on yet another essay and think anxiously about the time when they too must undergo the college application process. Most students rarely think about college, choosing to believe that they can worry about it later. “My parents sometimes mention it, saying all these different things about what colleges they want me to go to,” freshman Chloe Anbarcioglu said. Watching an older sibling go through the application process can be intimidating. As older brothers and sisters write a seemingly endless

number of essays and jet off to visit another college over a three-day weekend, family members worry about their child’s happiness during the application process or perhaps the results the seniors will receive. “[My parents] were proud that [my sister] was going to college,” Anbarcioglu said. “They were a little worried when hoping that she’ll get into a good college.” “What if she doesn’t get into the college she wants to get into?” Jane Doe’s father said quietly. “She’ll be okay, she’s smart,” her mother replied, not hiding the concerned look on her face. Second-hand experience watching someone apply to college can be helpful. As a younger student, following the lead of an older sibling and spending time at different colleges will impart a sense

of what to expect when applying several years later. However, the process can also be discouraging. On top of regular school work, the college process can provoke feelings ranging from overwhelmed to

was feeling “ [My sister] a ton of pressure. Chloe Anbarcioglu

downright alarmed when considering the prospect of one’s own journey through college applications. “It was mostly the essays that are definitely very challenging,” freshman Margot VanOrden said about her older sister. Some seniors wish that they had started earlier with the process and began preparing sooner. “If you’re a junior, do your college essay during the summer. Do not do it in October because it will not be fun,”

senior Hayate Lencha said. As seniors work on their applications during school, many realize how much work they have to complete. “You learn the hard way that [college applications are] very difficult to do at the same time as you have school,” senior Leah Henry said. “John, don’t procrastinate your application work when the time comes. Start early or you’ll probably regret it,” Jane told her brother. Despite its effect on younger students, the stress that college applications have on applicants affects their daily well being. “[My sister] was feeling a ton of pressure,” Anbarcioglu said. From the perspective of an outsider, the extensive college application process adds an additional work-load to the already stressful senior year.

January 17, 2017



Synchronized swimmer Grace Zhang competes at Nationals Maya Virdell staff writer

The bright lights glare overhead, crowds of people cheering boisterously, the water droplets springing through the air, charged with an adrenaline that cannot be tamed. The blue water sloshes around, livening the cement gray pool, as hands pound the chlorine water in perfect unison, smiles stretched across their energetic faces, legs kicking to keep them afloat. Echoes of cheers reverberate in the sapphire pool, as the performers soar through the air, the drops of water glistening in the view of the harsh lights. Grace Zhang began her early childhood unlike most other young children because her mom made her stretch before she could fully comprehend what she was doing. When younger, she

competed in a variety of Zhang had a challenge determined to catch up. To sports like dance, swim, and to accomplish when she reach the skill level of her gymnastics. first began synchronized fellow team mates, Zhang The skills used in the sports swimming and she was had to undergo arduous she learned at a young age, determined to reach her training. helped her become a great goal. Her goal was to be as “Synchronized swimming synchronized is a sport swimmer, and where you an even better need your athlete. full body G r a c e strength.” b e g a n said Zhang. synchronized T h e swimming in endurance sixth grade. and training H o w e v e r, w e r e she was strenuous, not always even more skilled at challenging synchronized considering swimming. her health She had to impairment: start with asthma. But Photo courtesey Kent Brooten the basics. Grace Zhang and her team perform their synchronized swimming routine. Zhang did “I struggled not give up; because strength was one of good as everyone else on instead she dedicated her life my weaker attributes,” said the team, if not better. Even to improving, and always Zhang. “I could not really though she had just joined striving to be the best. keep myself up when we did the team, and was still years “I do synchronized things, I did not really know behind the skill set of her swimming about 12 hours a how to use my muscles.” new teammates, she was week,” said Zhang.

Why football ratings have taken a hit

many traumatic brain injuries. It commonly causes staff writer loss of memory, impaired Football has been a popujudgement, erratic behavlar in the US for generations. ior, difficulty balancing, However, the sport’s danger dementia, and depression. has led to the plummeting of Unfortunately, CTE can youth football participation. only be detected once the Athletes risk injury in any beholder of the disease dies. sport, yet football stands out The injuries that plague due to the number of brain football show that the necinjuries players can get. Deessary protection is inadspite all of the protecequate, worrying the tive padding, the comparents of would-be bination of speed and youth football playfull contact is a recipe ers. Such injuries can for disaster in the eyes lead to concussions of many parents, leadand brain bleeding. ing them to not allow Football helmets do their children to play Photo by James Cartwright not thoroughly prevent the sport. Broken bones Mercer Island athletes watch as their teammates compete. rotational and jolting are prevalent. There have lead to severe implications. injuries that are caused also been numerous cases of “You could die because when the head rotates or players breaking their back you could get second impact rapidly moves due to imand becoming paralyzed. syndrome,” Leisinger said. pact, according to Leisinger. Aside from broken or Second impact syn“Just the impact of the sprained bones, concus- drome can occur when body, the jolting force of sions, are all too common. someone with a concus- the body can cause that Concussions are a brain sion receives another brain to jolt,” she said. injury caused by a hit to concussion before being The danger of football has the head that leads to the cured of the original one. led to many parents pulling brain shaking inside the Furthermore, many NFL their children from the sport. skull. Such injuries can players have been diag- However, participation in cause difficulty thinking nosed with chronic traumat- flag football has increased and remembering, vision ic encephalopathy (CTE) roughly 9 percent among problems, migraines, and years after playing. The youths, allowing them to anxiety. Receiving numer- disease harms the brain enjoy the sport without worous concussions can signifi- of those who have had rying about major injury. Jake D’Souza

cantly worsen the problems and make them permanent. “You probably have ten concussions during the whole season,” MIHS Athletic Trainer Jo Leisinger said. Many concussions also go unreported, because many athletes play through their injury. Leaving a potential brain injury unreported may

Zhang’s perseverance, relentless training, and work helped establish her as a core member of her team, and landed her an opportunity to perform at an elite level. Zhang went on to perform at the Junior Olympics for synchronized swimming and at Nationals against some of the top teams in the nation. Managing competitions, training, homework, high school, and a social life at the same time can be difficult. However, Zhang believes it is worth it. Everyday she gets to participate in a sport she is truly passionate about, while performing and competing with her best friends. Synchronized swimming has not only given Zhang the opportunity to participate in a sport she loves, but it has given her life long friends, life lessons, and memories she will never forget.

@chocolatebark’s guide to


Brunch- While I can’t resist its classic french toast and fruit bar, Portage Bay is not the only brunch restaurant in Seattle worth trying. With its unique decor and contemporary atmosphere, Toulouse Petit is Capitol Hill’s own New Orleans. Skip your trip to the Big Easy and try the beignets with a mocha glaze. Trust me, they taste like fluffy clouds of heaven.

Snow Ice Cream- Who cares if it’s below freezing? Head to Bambu in the International District for snow ice cream, a delicous hybrid between shaved ice and ice cream. Pictured is the red velvet snow ice cream with oreos and condensed milk.

Farm salad and Margherita pizza, DERU Market

Local and Organic- With its rustic yet elegant atmosphere, DERU Market is a must try for those looking for local artisan eats. Grab some friends, drive east to the Kirkland eatery, and try the farm salad and margherita pizza.

Hazelnut Seduzione, Vivo 53

Gourmet Teriyaki and Qdoba are quick Mercer Island favorites that appeal as afternoon snacks or late-night cram session bites. However, you may be in search of new options. Fear not, foodies! As the founder of the food Instagram, @chocolatebark, I not only know the best filters, but also the best places to eat around the Seattle area. You don’t have to travel all the way to New York City to indulge in the trendiest and tastiest foods. Stay right in Seattle and enjoy these popular treats at these unique restaurants.

Red velvet snow ice cream with condensed milk, Bambu

compiled by Christine Lee

Crazy Sundaes- You don’t need to travel to New York City for Black Tap’s famous sundaes. Head to Vivo 53 in Bellevue and try the restaurant’s decadent “insane sundaes” that are sure to please your palate and your Instagram followers. Pictured is the Hazelnut Seduzione, a delicious Italian cheesecake nutella sundae.

Parfaits- With its eclectic mix of foods, Trove in Capitol Hill has the unique flavors needed to satisfy your inner foodie. The restaurant is divided into three parts: Korean barbeque, a noodle bar, and an ice cream shop. I recommend the ice cream parfaits. They change every season and although they’re a little pricey, you get to keep the jar and the memories that come with it!


@chocolatebark on Instagram for more!

Beignets with a mocha glaze, Toulouse Petit

Poke- If you’re a fish lover like me, you need to try poke, a Hawaiian raw fish salad. 45th Stop ‘N Shop & Poke Bar is a small convenience store just outside of the University District known for its fantastic poke and reasonable prices. I suggest the sushi “burritos” for those who want to test the raw-fish waters. Spicy tuna poke, 45th Stop ‘N’ Shop & Poke Bar

Hawaiian Punch, Piña Colada, and Honeycomb parfaits, Trove



Hidden musical messages: not just in one ear and out the other Isabel Funk staff writer

Each time a musician publishes a new album, people clamor to buy it, hear it, and find new favorite songs. In the excitement, the lyrics of these songs

I mostly just like the beat and the sound [of a song]. Polly Schaps

often go unexamined, and even ignored. No one will pay attention to what a song says as long as it has a cool beat and a catchy melody. In many cases, these unnoticed lyrics can be highly offensive, or just plainly inappropriate. “I mostly just like the beat and the sound [of a song]” said freshman Polly Schaps, neglecting the lyrics themselves. Despite this, she also added that she would probably stop listening to a song if she didn’t like the message it was sending. Many students, however, are

not as conscious as Schaps their confusion. when listening to music. For years, music has been While students are less about poetry and art and exposed to subconscious more about feeling, sound messaging from all aspects and movement. Gone is of life, one source of constant the era of poetic songs like input is music. According to ‘Hallelujah’ by Jeff Buckley, The Atlantic, in 2011, 92 which included the lyrics: percent of songs on the top “It’s not a cry that you hear ten billboard s o n g s contained sexual lyrics. Musicians have an immense opportunity to spread whatever m e s s a g e they choose to a large audience. However, m a n y musicians e i t h e r Teenagers are especially susceptible to the messages emitted through music. ignore this opportunity, or consciously at night/ It’s not somebody choose to send negative or who’s seen the light/ It’s inappropriate messages. a cold and it’s a broken For youth who may already Hallelujah.” Instead, radios feel self-conscious about are crowded with songs certain aspects of their containing lyrics such as, lives or bodies, these lyrical “banging the drum like dum messages can only add to di di day/ I know you want

it in the worst way,” a line from ‘Hey Mama’ by David Guettta and Nicki Minaj. Alarmingly, many children hear similar lyrics and, not knowing what they mean, think nothing of them. They might love a song for its catchy chorus, like Katie Perry’s ‘Last Friday Night,’ for example, n e v e r realizing the inappropriate meaning behind the words they are singing. While exposure to inappropriate music lyrics at a young age may seem harmless, it creates a Photo by Isabel Funk dangerous situation in which children don’t realize that they are unconsciously being socialized to be hypersexual and reckless. Students might not realize that song lyrics affect them, but the truth is that, subconsciously, they do. A

study conducted by Steven C. Martino, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University, showed that vulgar, demeaning lyrics don’t just “go in one ear and out the other.” This type of music affects the mindsets of teenagers, changing their subconscious opinions and decisions. Regardless of the intended effect of this type of music, it sends disturbing messages to students, maintaining that illegal and sexual activities have no consequences. This type of music can portray a distorted imitation

[Lyrics] do more than go in one ear and out the other. Steven C. Martino

of life, and establishes within listeners a false understanding of the world. Teenage life is not how many musicians portray it to be, but the more songs promote these ideas, the more these messages are cemented in students’ minds.

Lack of languages at MIHS restricts learning opportunities Liam McLeod staff writer

​ Only three foreign languages are available at MIHS: Mandarin, Spanish, and French. However, there are many more languages that could benefit students just as much, and perhaps even more so. While Mandarin is spoken by over one billion people, and Spanish is spoken by about 417 million people, French is only spoken by about 128 million people worldwide, including people who speak it as a second language. This makes French as common as German, and less common than Japanese, Russian, and Portuguese, to name a few. And yet, not a single one of these other languages is offered at MIHS. Not only does the limited number of languages restrict the ways in which students can connect with those from other countries, but the offered languages were

also found to be disliked by mer chair Deana Wiatr, and tion polled the students to many students at MIHS. In principal Vicki Puckett all see if they were interested in an unscientific poll taken by agree that introducing a new Japanese, but MIHS “didn’t 20 students, 20 percent of language would be a good have enough students interstudents taking a language idea. ested in taking Japanese to weren’t inbe able to run a terested in it. section,” accordFurthermore, ing to Puckett. 52 percent of Though the lack 21 students of student interest currently takis still a problem, ing a language it is important to would take consider that the another lanlast poll happened guage if it four years ago. It were available. is likely that many There were students may some students have different inpolled who had terests than those decided to not who were present take a language when the poll was Photo courtesy BBC during their Like most high schools in the nation, MIHS only offers three foreign language courses. conducted. If stufreshman year dents were polled because of the lack of interThere are, however, two again, the results may be difesting choices. “No languag- major factors that contribute ferent. es here interest me,” said to the lack of increased lanBesides being uninterestfreshman Shane Piha. guage availability: a lack of ing for many students, the Students are not alone in student interest and a lack of limited number of languages their desire for more lan- teachers who can teach a for- also denies some students guage courses. The current eign language. The former the chance to learn a lanWorld Language Department was a problem four years guage that they may benefit chair, Margaret Aguilar, for- ago, when the administra- from later on in their lives.

For example, one such language would be Japanese, which would allow anime fans to access and contribute to a much wider range of entertainment. This utter lack of available languages is not just a problem on Mercer Island. Throughout the U.S., it is uncommon for a single school to offer more than three foreign languages. This likely accounts for the relatively small number of Americans who can effectively speak a foreign language. According to a poll done by Gallup, this is such a problem that only “26 percent of adult Americans speak a language other than English well enough to hold a conversation.” This number dims in comparison to the 54 percent of bilingual Europeans. By limiting our selection of foreign languages, we not only restrict the possibilities open to us, but we also become more ignorant of other languages and cultures.


January 17, 2017


A photography teacher’s journey to a meaningful career (cont.) by Sophie Poole staff writer

(continued from page 1) I showed her different photos, each one evoked a different memory. I showed her the compelling photo of the Hormones. I wondered how it felt to be so close to their music. She laughed as she explained, “the studio that [KEXP] used to broadcast from was super tiny and so we’re totally squished in there. And I have this really wide-angle lens to get everyone in [the picture]. And this band, they’re called The Hormones, they’re very loud and very energetic.” Sometimes, however, the energy in the recording studio was mellow, especially if she was photographing a solo artist. “This one guy, Ryan Bingham, this amazing country singer-songwriter, it was just him and his guitar,” Totten said. “ I had to be really quiet because they could hear my shutter on my camera.” And then there was the time Totten met one of her favorite artists. “I photographed Grant Lee Phillips,” she said. “I had a crush on him when I was in high-school. I think I was 15 or 16 when his first al-

bum came out. And then I photography. Overwhelmed However, reality struck as got to photograph him. I ac- from constantly working, both universities explained tually told him that, so I was and wanting to do some- the scarcity of photogralike, ‘I’ve had a crush on thing different, she sought phy teaching jobs. “This you for 15 years.’ He was out other career paths. one lady, I thought she was the only one I was really An unlikely idea formed so mean, because I had just nervous about because I just as she realized her desire told her my dream,” Totten loved his music so much.” to teach. “I had been vol- said. “I was so excited. I’m Totten’s photography unteering in slow times at going to give up my busiwork at KEXP began to this non profit that teach- ness because I want to hang gain recogniout with teention. “One picagers.” But the ture was feawoman would tured on the not listen to her NPR website,” and insisted it she said. Her was not a practiphotographs cal choice. illustrated her Totten perability to capsevered despite ture the humanthe skepticism ity behind the she endured. Photo courtesy Laura Totten music through She attended SeSinger-songwriter Ryan Bingham plays guitar during a recording session for KEXP. her image. attle University Totten built upon her es photography to students to earn her teaching degree. business by photographing after school,” she said. After graduating, she was commercially and person- “It’s called Youth in Fo- certified to teach photograally. While working for the cus. I loved the interaction phy and English at the high Seahawks, the Sounders, of working with teenagers school level. KEXP, Washington State and showing them photogThen everything began Tourism, and other major raphy.” to fall into place. After companies and organizaIn the Spring of 2011, Tot- one year of teaching in the tions, she also shot wed- ten began to actively pursue Highline School District, a dings, families, and head- teaching photography. She job opened for a photograshots. applied to graduate school phy teacher at Mercer Island Totten’s hard work and at University of Washington High School. “It was the dedication paid off. Her and Seattle Pacific Univer- only photo job in the state,” workload became too sity. She had a new dream she said. “I didn’t think I heavy, and she eventual- for her career. This time, would get it because I only ly realized she would need she was actively choosing had one year of teaching exto expand her company to the work she wished to pur- perience. I do have a lot of manage the demand for her sue. photography experience, so

I think [the administrators] appreciated that.” Totten’s years of experience and mentality toward learning styles set her apart from other teachers. She emphasizes in her classes the power of authenticity in a photograph. “If people are interacting and I’m just observing it,” she said. “I wait for all the elements to line up to get an emotional picture.” Totten has been head of the MIHS Fine Arts Department for the past two years, and has worked to make student art a more prominent part of school culture. “My goal is that I want art to be more visible and valued here,” she said. “Last year I was able to get money to get display boards put up around the school so we can put art up.” After five years of teaching at MIHS and two years as head of the Art Department, Totten has successfully begun to integrate the arts into the student life of MIHS. She has finally found her place. “I feel like [teaching] was the first career that I wanted to do,” she said. “My favorite part of my life is my job, I can’t believe that I get to do this. It’s pretty amazing.”

Retired barista Emma Gottlieb reviews Starbucks beverages “Here is the deal with specialty drinks: most of them taste weird, some of them smell weird, and all of them cost more.” The Drink: The Peppermint Mocha The Review: This drink tastes like Christmas. It slightly reminds me of toothpaste, but it is overall very delicious. The Rate: 4.5/5 cups

The Drink: Chestnut Praline Latte The Review: This beverage has a very yummy topping. However, the drink itself tastes like tree bark. The Rate: 2.5/5 cups

The Drink: The Skinny Mocha The Review: This drink is absolutely nasty. It literally tastes like grass. If you are going to get a mocha, just go all out with it, don’t cheat your treat. The Rate: 0/5 cups (seriously stay away)

The Drink: The Cascara Latte (new!) The Review: Slight maple flavor. SLIGHT. You almost can’t tell they put flavor in your latte, it just tastes like it was made incorrectly. The Rate: 2.5/5 cups

The Drink: Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate The Review: Congratulations to Starbucks for finally making a drink that tastes like its name. This is a very tasty drink, but I definitely would not recommend ordering any size larger than a short, unless you have a serious sweet tooth or an impending exam. The Rate: 5/5 cups

The Drink: Mulling Spice Cold Brew The Review: This honest to God smells like potpourri. It tastes like Stumptown cold brew with coconut milk. It is not the first thing I would order, but the flavor is bearable. The delicious sweet cream balances out the horrid mulling spice syrup. The Rate: 2.5/5 cups

Winter Wardrobe Compiled by: Sophie Poole

With colder temperatures comes a brand new opportunity to show unique and stylish items in your wardrobe. Students at MIHS use fashion to express their individuality and stay warm during the winter months.

Coat: Parka ordered online Senior, Max Paek Coat: Urban Outfitters Freshman, Claire Humphrey Pants: Jeans from Pacsun Junior, Giovanni Rocha Shoes: Reflective Converse Junior Alec Moore Pants: Top Shop Freshman, Annie Poole Shoes: VS Vita from Nordstroms Junior, Anna Moscovici Shoes: Pumas Freshman, Lila Shroff


9100 SE 42ND STREET MERCER ISLAND, WA 98040 MIHSISLANDER@GMAIL.COM WWW.MIHSISLANDER.ORG Editor-in-Chief: Jane Gormley Front Editor: Georgia Mattox Features Editor: Hanna Puetz Sports Editor: Nathan Benson Spread Editor: Christine Lee Opinions Editor: Aina Swartz Campus Life Editor: Zoe Levin Back Page Editors: Isabel Funk and Maya Virdell Online Editors: Hanna Nóren and Georgia Mattox

Staff Writers: Jake D’Souza, Teddy Fischer, Isabel Funk, Ellie Gottesman, Emma Gottlieb, Jonathan James, Reid Martinez, Liam Mcleod, Patricia Pont, Sophie Poole, Lucille Shield, Grady Short, Maya Virdell Adviser: Chris Twombley

Shoes: Adidas Freshman, Claire Humphrey

Purpose To provide news to the Mercer Island High School student body and members of the surrounding community in a manner that accurately reflects the readers’ interests. Editorial Policy

The Islander accepts and welcomes feedback from its readers. Anyone wishing to submit to The Islander must e-mail his submission to or deliver it by hand to Chris Twombley. All submissions must be submitted two weeks before the next publication date, which can be found at any of our distribution boxes. All handwritten submissions must be signed to be considered for publication. No submissions will be published anonymously. Submissions are subject to grammar and spelling. All submissions become property of MIHS Islander. Ads To print an ad in a future issue of The Islander, contact Business Manager Dylan Notturno at for rates and information.

Shoes: Converse Senior, Joseph Li

Nondiscrimination Notification The Mercer Island School District does not discriminate in any programs or activities on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The dle

following people have been designated to haninquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies: Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) Coordinator: Dr. Gary Plano, Superintendent (206) 236-3300 Title IX Compliance Coordinator: Dean Mack, CFO/COO, (206) 236-4522 Section 504 & ADA Coordinator: Lindsay Myatich, Director, (206) 236-3326 Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator: Simmi Kher, Coordinator, (206) 236-3300

The Islander January Issue 2017  
The Islander January Issue 2017