Community mourns loss of Class of 2010 graduate killed in Africa

October 22, 2015 — by Caitlin Ju

2010 alumnus Max Snyder is being remembered as someone who always followed his passions, actively seeking to make a difference, and cared deeply about others.

2010 alumnus Max Snyder is being remembered as someone who always followed his passions, actively seeking to make a difference, and cared deeply about others.

As he walked with his girlfriend on Oct. 2 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, they were approached by men with knives with unknown motives. Max was stabbed four times, and although his girlfriend survived the attack, Max suffered internal bleeding and did not. He was 23.

Max had just arrived in Tanzania that day and planned on staying with his girlfriend for one month, as she had transitioned to her new job there with a non-governmental organization called One Acre Fund.

Assistant principal Kerry Mohnike, who taught Max as student in her English 11 Honors class, remembers that he had a passion for biking and made positive changes to the school by helping to incorporate bikes on campus.

After high school, Max graduated Cum Laude in 2014 with an economics degree from Seattle University, where he started the university’s Cycling Club.

Mrs. Mohnike described Max as “upbeat, happy, and a strong contributor to discussions.” What she recalls most about Max is his laughter.

English teacher Jason Friend also remembers his great sense of humor and his passion to tackle big philosophical questions in his AP Language and Composition class, particularly in one Socratic Seminar on the Walter Kirn’s “Loss of the Meritocracy,” which described the mindlessness with how people pursued the education system.

“He was one of those students that exemplified having a passion for things and learning to care about learning,” Mr. Friend said. “I just remember how much [‘Loss of the Meritocracy’] resonated with him and how articulate he was when talking about how it echoed Saratoga students.”

Mr. Friend added that Max was always curious about the world and an example to many Saratoga students.

“He was really passionate about making a difference in the world and thinking about more than just himself,” Mr. Friend said. “I hope that the type of things he was doing can be an example to Saratoga students that they should not be afraid to think about more than just their own selves and their own self-interests, but really put themselves out there.”

Media arts teacher Tony Palma, who had Max as a student for two years in woodshop, said he was “a really hard worker with a great personality and was just a fun kid to have in class. He loved to talk, explore, create, and always had great ideas and great conversations.”

When Mr. Palma could not offer more advanced wood shop classes, Max took a digital photography class and became so accomplished that he earned money to fund his Eagle Scout Service Project by shooting portraits of people.

Mr. Palma said his former student can serve as a model to current students.

“All I remember is what a great person he was. I don’t remember his GPA, what his grades were, none of that matters,” Mr. Palma said. “All that matters is how you are as a person and how you look at the world and how you treat the world.”

Mr. Palma recalls one woodshop activity he and Max did together when they teamed up with other schools to make pens for soldiers in the war. They hand-made pens, assembling them and putting notes in them, and sent them overseas.

“My heart goes out to the family and to the community,” Mr. Palma said. “I’ll always remember him as the wonderful, happy, fun kid who was a big dreamer and always wanted to do what he did to change the world. I’m going to look back on our time together with fond memories, and I’m going to hold that close to my heart forever.”

Max is survived by his parents, David and Paula Snyder.

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