Hearing deficiency tested Liberty’s Brian Mangis

Athlete, AP student relishes challenges, looks forward to EWU

The parents of Liberty High School senior Brian Mangis didn’t realize he couldn’t hear well until he was 3. He was so skilled at lip reading that his doctor merely thought he was slow developmentally.

Mangis got a hearing aid to compensate for the hearing loss caused by a broken nerve that should connect his ear to his brain. “They didn’t correct it,” said Mangis, 18. “It just amplifies the sound.”

In fifth grade he noticed he couldn’t hear his teachers well. “I just didn’t realize,” he said of his slow recognition of the problem.

Mangis started sitting up front and interacting with his teachers more. For a time he also used a system that piped sound directly from a microphone worn by his teachers into headphones he wore.

But he won’t say that his school experience has been any harder than that of his friends. “It is different compared to my friends,” he said. “I’ve just grown up with it.”

Instead he’d rather talk about how he often teases his friends. “Sometimes I just act like I can’t hear them when I can,” he said. “It makes them mad when I do that.” He also jokes that he doesn’t hear much gossip.

His attitude has impressed Liberty High School Principal Aaron Fletcher, who said Mangis has made the most of his situation. “He’s just a good, solid student,” Fletcher said. “He’s here every day; he works hard. I think he’s overcome a lot and he should be proud of that.”

Mangis’ high school experience has been as normal as anyone’s in the small school. He played baseball all four years and played football his freshman and sophomore years, until an earlier back injury prevented him from continuing.

He struggled with math for years, but it’s now his favorite subject. “I didn’t give up on it,” he said. “I just took the AP test.”

Calculus isn’t his only Advanced Placement class. He’s also taking AP English. His grade-point average is 3.49 and he’s determined to get to 3.5. He never considered not taking AP classes to ensure that he’d reach his goal. “It would be easier, but the challenge wouldn’t be there,” he said.

Mangis has attended school in Spangle his entire life and prefers it to the hustle and bustle of larger, more urban schools. His father, Donald, is mayor of Spangle and works for the city of Cheney. His mother, Sandra, is an accountant, and sister Jessica attends Whitworth University, where she plays softball.

“We’ve been having a competition with stats,” Mangis said of his sister. “She’s got me beat by a long shot.”

Mangis said he likes maps and working to put things together. He plans to study urban and regional planning at Eastern Washington University. Even though his parents commute to Cheney daily, he still wants to live in the dorms.

“I kind of wanted the college life, to go there and be on campus and be a part of what is going on.”

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