RUSSELL, Pa. – Zane Alexander is anything but your typical teenager.
The 2021 Eisenhower High School graduate was valedictorian of his class and enjoyed a stellar athletic career in football, basketball and baseball.
He will take his immense talents to Penn State University Park this fall, majoring in biological engineering.
Looking back, it was a memorable four years.
“I’ll hopefully remember some of the stuff they taught me in school, but I know I’ll remember the times spent with my friends and teammates,” Alexander said. “Some of the things that stand out are the OT win in the playoffs (against West Middlesex in the D10 semifinals) this past football season, along with a couple walk-off wins this past baseball season. I’ll never forget all the team dinners, gym class moments, or even just messing around in class with friends.”
It’s those memories that make high school so special. And for Alexander to excel as he did in all areas required a lot of sacrifice. Also, many of the same qualities are needed to shine in both.
“Dedication and the desire to reach your goals are traits that will translate to just about every endeavor,” he said. “Setting goals in the classroom, in sports, or wherever, along with understanding your strengths and weaknesses is what I’d say has helped me the most.”
To get to the top of one’s class is obviously a tremendous achievement. But, as Alexander points out, he didn’t get there on his own.
“I am very grateful to have been the valedictorian,” he said. “I didn’t get there alone, so I am thankful to all of my teachers, classmates, and mentors. It’s sort of like the light at the end of the high school tunnel, and it will help push me in the next phases of my life, knowing that hard work can pay off.”
Part of the honor of being valedictorian, of course, is to address fellow graduates at graduation ceremonies.
Being at a smaller school like Eisenhower, it creates a more intimate setting, one unique in the fact that everyone knows one another.
“I was honored to be able to give a speech to my classmates at graduation,” said Alexander. “It was great to be the last one to give recollections and motivation to our class as a whole. Being a smaller class, we all knew each other, so I was grateful to be able to just give my thoughts one last time before we all go into the world and do our own great things.”
And now he embarks on a new challenge at Penn State.
“I chose biological engineering because it takes the study of life and environmental processes and applies it to creating the technology that changes our world,” he said.
On the athletic front, Alexander and his Eisenhower teammates enjoyed a stellar 2020-21 campaign.
They went unbeaten through the regular season in football and advanced to the District 10 Class 1A title game, as Alexander wowed as a big-play threat on offense and a stalwart on defense. The Knights were a playoff team in baseball as well.
Basketball proved to be a challenge, as the Knights had to deal with a COVID quarantine. Alexander and the Knights navigated the challenges of a unique season with class and a tremendous amount of success.
And while he enjoyed every sport he played, one stands out above the rest.
“This has always been the toughest question, but ever since I put the helmet on, the answer has been football,” he said. “Baseball has always been a close second, and some of my best memories have been on the diamond, but nothing quite compares to Friday night under the lights. I love the intense preparation and work that goes into a football game, and how it all leads up to going to war with your brothers on the field.”
And speaking of those brothers, some of his best friends, how does he think they and his other friends would describe him?
“I think my friends would describe me as incredibly driven and caring, and as someone who is always willing to help them out. And probably also good looking and funny,” he said.
And now, they will all go there separate ways, many of them off to college, the military and the workforce.
Qhile it’s a small world and they will still see and talk to each other, the high school days will certainly be missed.
“I will definitely miss just always having time to have fun with my friends,” Alexander said. “Even though it seemed like we were always busy doing something, we were able to make memories together.
“Being away from a lot of my class this past year due to the virus and being part time, it made me realize how little I would see some of the people I’ve grown up with, and even though we’re on to bigger and better things, it is a little sad to see our time in high school come to an end.”
Although Alexander and his classmates will certainly miss each other, he is very much looking forward to making new memories at Penn State.
“I am looking forward to setting out to accomplish all of the goals I’ve set throughout high school,” he said. “Firstly, I am looking forward to the massive change in pace that Penn State will bring. But also, I am excited for all the things the world has to offer, because I hope to live my life adventurously.”