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Jack Frank, the North Haven High School valedictorian, says he learned many life lessons while in high school, both in and out of the classroom. (Photo courtesy of Chris Kirby )
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With qualities of leadership and teamwork learned from North Haven High School (NHHS), valedictorian Jack Frank has accepted an offer to attend Georgetown University in the fall, where he plans to study business.
While he hasn’t fully decided what his career goals are, Jack says his immediate goal is to “explore a lot of interests and figure it out.”
Among those interests, Jack says, are computer science and Spanish which could lead to international business studies.
Jack plans to figure out his future plans with the help of skills learned in North Haven. But he didn’t pick up all those skills from a classroom.
“I don’t think I have one particular favorite subject,” he says. “I think that’s part of the reason why I chose to study business because it involves so many different disciplines.”
He picked up an eclectic set of skills at NHHS, but all of his experiences reinforced his understanding of leadership and teamwork, valuable assets in his intended field.
Though Jack says running cross country was the defining activity of his high school career, he also participated in the school band as a tenor saxophone player.
“It’s kind of similar to running and athletics. It’s a very team oriented activity. It involves a lot of listening to each other, literally listening to the whole band, and trying to create that balance,” Jack says. “You can draw parallels between almost any sport and band. I guess that’s a reason I really liked it.”
Jack found life lessons in athletics. With two years of experience as captain of the NHHS cross country team, Jack says he learned the value of working as a team and how to be a leader.
Jack started running in middle school. In high school, he joined the cross country and track teams as a long distance runner. He was named captain of the cross country team in his junior year.
“I think cross country is probably the activity I’m most involved in,” he says. “I’m really proud to be a part of it. Especially as captain, I was able to see the team’s growth—especially the younger runners.”
Many of the younger runners on the cross country team have never run competitively before. When Jack started in middle school he too only participated at the club level.
“I’ve always liked to run and clear my mind. I’ve grown a lot being on a team where it’s not only about myself. It’s also about running to score points for the entire team,” he says.
With students coming into the team with the same level of experience he had to start, or less, it’s important for the team captains to get them up to speed, he says. One of his most important roles as captain was running summer captains’ practices from June to August to kick start the younger runners’ season.
“That really helps the younger runners to go from being beginners to building up their mileage,” Jack says. “When the people at the bottom start to improve, it’s kind of like a chain reaction up.”
Though cross country can feel like an individual sport, Jack learned how to support his team.
“I learned a lot about not being afraid of the pain you’re going to experience running and confronting those challenges head on,” he says. “Also just being a part of a team where you have to work to support your teammates and not only improve yourself.”
Cross country isn’t the only venue at NHHS where Jack learned valuable lessons. He says that the Project Adventure ropes course, a gym class alternative available to sophomores, also helped him to conquer his fears.
“It’s another great example of leadership and also teamwork,” Jack says. “All the climbs are student-belayed….They’re responsible for keeping their fellow student from falling.”
Although Jack wouldn’t describe his fear of heights as “deathly,” he went into the class knowing it would challenge him and came out learning a lot about trust.
Jack’s lessons learned from athletics made its way into his valedictorian speech at graduation.
“I wanted to communicate that graduation is a time to not only look at accomplishments but also the failures you may have had along the way,” Jack says.
He spoke about facing his fear of heights at the ropes course as a way to talk to his peers about recognizing the importance of how they respond to failure.
“Through that anecdote about how I really struggled with it…I wanted people to realize that everyone makes mistakes but when you look closer at those mistakes you realize the growth you’ve experienced as a result,” he says.
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