For North Haven High School’s valedictorian Jackson Frank, majoring in business at college will be a natural evolution from his days as a kid-entrepreneur.
“When I was a kid I would make little mini businesses and sell things to my friends ... when I got to high school I realized it was something I actually wanted to major in and do as a career path,” Frank said, describing one business where he used melting chocolates to create shaped chocolate to sell.
Frank will attend Georgetown University this fall with business as his concentration. He said he’s still figuring out exactly what he wants to do, but is interested in operations and information management and international business in particular.
“I liked the challenge of it and there's so many different facets of business that you can go into,” Frank said.
Over his four years in high school, Frank has participated in extracurriculars like cross country, track and field, Interact Club and Future Problem Solving.
He considers his Future Problem Solving team making it to the international competition last year as one of his proudest accomplishments. Frank’s been participating in the group since about fifth grade, and getting to go to the top competition in Wisconsin was a “really cool experience” and a chance to meet people from all over the world.
In Interact Club – a high school version of the community-service organization Rotary – Frank helped volunteer as much as he could with his already busy schedule. Club advisor Cathy Johnson said he wasn’t always at meetings due to sport practices, but he was very responsible and kept a list of all the volunteer activities the club would be doing and made an effort to be there.
The group tries to do activities at least once a month, annually helping with the town Rotary Wine and Roses event and Road Race and pancake breakfast, as well as various drives to support local students or people with illnesses.
Johnson also taught Frank’s pre-calculus class and said he was obviously very intelligent, but also used his knowledge to solve problems in out-of-the-box, or non-traditional, ways. He was also someone other students would turn to for help and seemed happy to lend a hand. She said that openness applied to outside the classroom too, where he was always saying hello to teachers and other students in the hallways.
“I think he makes people feel welcome … he’s really a great kid,” Johnson said.
Frank has also been volunteering at Ben Haven in town, a group home for adults with autism, where he helped tutor people in writing and and sign language. He said the experience taught him to understand people that are different than him.
“I think I learned a lot about communicating without actually speaking to someone – through even aside from sign language, facial expression, your social cues and understanding someone without having to speak to them,” Frank said.
Frank credits his hours running cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field with helping him stay focused on schoolwork during his free time.
“I never really thought I would end up being valedictorian, I think just with being involved in a lot of things, especially sports all season, helped me to be really diligent with all my work and have really good time management,” Frank said.
He said playing sports meant his daily routine was structured and helped him stay on top of homework because there was no time to put it off. He said the running itself taught him lessons about pushing himself too.
Running is “a really good exercise of perseverance and pushing through pain,” Frank said. “Especially cross country with all the hills and mud.”
To younger students, Frank says not to compare yourself to what others are doing and to focus on what you believe success means.
“If you're comparing yourself to other people, it doesn't help you in the long run, you end up wasting time doing that when you could be working harder on your personal goals,” he said.
Frank will address the North Haven High School Class of 2019 during graduation ceremonies Thursday, June 13, at 4 p.m.
This year’s salutatorian is Serena Sandwell.