Michael Messer: International Man of Mystery


Ryan Freeman, Opinion Writer

Some say in a world where everyone is overexposed, the coolest thing you can do is maintain your mystery. For some, maintaining that mystery is intentional, but for one KHS student, flying under the radar of high school norms is a way of life.

Michael can be found just about anywhere in the halls of Kings High. His name is recognizable, but he’s an uber smart, quiet, to-himself kid, whose charm is unknown by most.

If you are a KHS student reading this, it is almost certain that Michael took (and passed) your current math class in Elementary school.

It was before elementary school when Michael started showing glimpses of his mathematical potential.

“In preschool, his class started growing an amaryllis bulb before Christmas. Everyday they added a link in a paper chain to show how long the plant had been growing. After break, the teacher asked how many links they needed to add. He replied that the break was two weeks long but they forgot to add links the last two days before break so it was ‘2×7+2=…’ He didn’t know his times tables so he couldn’t formulate the answer, but he knew the equation,” says Kirsten Messer.

Michael’s attitude towards his own genius is cloaked in mystery.

“There was no specific point I realized that I was gifted that I can remember,” Michael says.

From his earliest years, Michael wasn’t playing mindlessly with action figures like some kids. Michael set his sights on something a bit more complicated.

“At three, he was fascinated with the idea of wireless power. When I told him MIT was working on the concept, he was upset, because they stole his ‘really good idea,’” Kirsten Messer tells the Knight Times.

In a lot of ways, Michael was like a lot of other kids. He believed in Santa, however he used his intelligence to make his spin on it very unique.

“He used to make up complicated toys that didn’t exist and dictate letters to Santa in which he would try to commission the elves to develop his toys,” says Kirsten.

When that idea didn’t work, Michael came up with a different one.  

“Michael was frustrated that the elves were not building the toys to his specifications, so he eventually asked for an elf so he could control quality and have any toy he wanted on demand,” says Kirsten.

Michael excelled in all aspects of school, but he did especially well in math and science. The elementary work began to get far too easy, so Michael wanted to seek new challenges.

“The content was more exciting and challenging. I started skipping grades in math and science because I was bored,” says Michael.

The decision to place Michael in higher level classes was a hard one for his parents to make.

“Trying to figure out what was best for Michael was really challenging. You didn’t want him to be bored, but you didn’t want him to be in a class that was too challenging. Trying to estimate his potential was impossible,” says Kirsten.

As Michael got older, he continued to hone his math and science skill to begin thinking bigger. He started working on his first app, which would plant the seed for future endeavors.

“I was never able to complete that app,” Michael says. And that is the way he is. Michael will only give you the amount of information he thinks you need, nothing more, always less.

Over the summer, Michael used his expertise to finally create his first complete mobile application while working at the University of Cincinnati’s IT Solution Center.

“I developed a mobile application that allowed probation officers to complete assessments on youth offenders to predict their chance of recidivism,” says Michael.

Michael’s passion is not just in his school work. He is an alto saxophonist in the school’s jazz band.

“I think he likes music because it is a form of math,” says Kirsten Messer.

Michael is also a member of the Varsity Tennis team. On the courts, he is referred to by his teammates as “Big Mike”.

As Big Mike’s doubles partner for the past couple of years, I have gotten to see glimpses of the other side to Michael. He is reserved at school, but on the courts Michael isn’t afraid to say exactly what is on his mind. Sometimes before matches he watches the other team warm up, and after he tells me if we are going to win or lose. I try to tell him that we shouldn’t underestimate any team, but he fires back with “Ryan they are horrible there is no reasonable way we could lose,” and most of the time he ends up being right.

“He is more calm and low key at school but during practice all of his smack talk comes out” says senior tennis captain Jeremy Mussari.

Michael is passionate about tennis, but his athletic career got its start with a very brief soccer career.

“He played soccer, but he wouldn’t run after the ball. He explained that by the time he got to the ball it would be somewhere else. I told him to run to where he thought the ball was going. Michael told me that it was impossible to calculate,” says Kirsten Messer.

Tennis odds are easier to calculate, so I think Michael found the right sport.

I was curious about how Michael manages his curiosities with his extracurriculars and his school work.

In true Messer form, he said, “I don’t think three interests is too many.”

Michael has always been one of the smartest people in our school; nobody is surprised by that, but his wit and charm is something that isn’t right out in front of you. Uncovering Michael’s mystery has been a more intriguing experience than you might think.