Posted on February 6, 2024
Categories: Student of the Month

Mason is not the kind of student who promotes himself. He’s understated, when asked about his accomplishments. But he’s clearly and quietly confident, and calmly articulates where he’s been and where he’s going with a matter-of-factness that comes from a solid place. We were joined during our interview with his nominator, First Sergeant (also referred to with affection as a grandfather figure) Joseph Fraioli.

Mason admits when he was younger, he didn’t take school as seriously as he should. He lived in Cape May during the students were virtual pandemic year, which was his 9th grade, and struggled, like many students, to maintain focus. But then his dad enrolled him in JROTC, and Mason started to open up and do things a little differently. He started to set goals and work to achieve them. This year, he is striving to make the honor roll – a goal he set and achieved last year too.

What made him realize he wanted to do things differently? “I realized at big colleges, including West Point, you had to have a certain GPA and you had to apply by a certain time, and I completely missed that window and opportunity. I realized there would be consequences if I didn’t do well.” To say he learned his lesson and is thriving would be an understatement.

His nominator, First Sergeant Fraioli says, “Academically Mason had a rough first two years of school, but has rebounded to making the school honor roll most of his last two years, and serves as a role model to the other students that hard work and perseverance will lead to success.”

As a member of the Junior ROTC Pioneer Battalion, Mason has gone from a cadet to becoming the leader of the entire program (battalion) of cadets. First Sergeant Fraioli says “Under his leadership the cadets have provided color guards for school & community events, competed in drill, athletic and academic competitions, organized and led the cadets in both school and community service projects on a regular basis.”

Mason is also an active member of other activities, and is well-known for being willing to lend a helping hand. One of his superpowers is his ability to quietly amass the additional volunteers needed to complete any project, even at the last minute.

He has also accrued over 1,000 hours of service during his time at school, working on events such as the Philadelphia Special Olympics, working on the food service committee as the junior leader , where he has oversaw the setting up, serving of meals, teardown and clean-up of events serving anyway from 100 to almost 500 participants (PSO Spring Games). He’s been active in multiple community park clean-ups, plantings and park events like Fall Festival, and Family Movie Nights etc. Mason is currently a member of the varsity boys’ soccer team and varsity coed bowling team, and as an underclassman he played on the JV football team.

Mason has received awards from the Purple Heart Association, Military Order of the World Wars, Catholic War Veterans and the Sons of the American Revolution. As the lead cadet in the Frankford Pioneer Battalion he has participated or captained the armed & unarmed drill teams, color guard team, honor guard unit, academic challenge team and attended summer camp.

Mason is enrolled in Philadelphia Community College, participating in and he’s doing Toyata Tech for the next two years. He has also applied for the Building Engineer apprenticeship program offered by the Philadelphia School District.

We asked Mason our favorite lineup of questions:

1. What does being named Senior of the Month mean to you?

It’s an honor to receive this award. I’ve never received this kind of recognition before. My last two years at school, I have been working extra hard to achieve a higher academic standing. Plus I made a decision to become more involved in all facets of school. Athletics, arts, JROTC and more. It is a great honor to be recognized for these accomplishments.

2. Why do you think you were nominated for Senior of the Month?

Because I work hard on a daily basis; for setting an example for our other cadets/students to follow. My improved leadership skills, communication skills and service.

3. You were nominated by First Sergeant Joseph Fraioli.  Explain your relationship to him/her. Why do you think s/he nominated you specifically?

I would like to say he is like my grandfather. He has been my teacher, coach and mentor. I think he nominated me because I’m a good hard working person and always try to do my best. He has a saying that, the only good thing you do is the last thing that you have done. (Mason also joked back and forth with Joe like any grandson and grandparent might)

First Sergeant Fraioli says “In our program, he’s an all-around good person, and he shows up, and does what he says he’s going to do. He sets the example, then leads by example, and the younger students follow his lead. The staff calls him when we need something, when they need things accomplished!”

4. What is one thing you’d like to share about yourself that most people don’t know about you?

I like to be with my younger brother Brody.

And, I’m very interested in planes, especially learning about them and flying them. It’s amazing how far the technology has come in the last few generations.

5. What do you enjoy most when you are not at school?

Play video games with my friends or talking to my friends all over the country!

6. In your opinion, what is the best thing about attending school at Frankford.

Being able to take JROTC — and ordering food from our school culinary department!

7. In your opinion, what is one thing that the School District could do to improve our service to students?

Even though I am a senior, I would like to see them fix our school building. Frankford is over 100 years old and right now we have students located at two campuses and there is nowhere near the room that we need. I would like to visit in the next two or three years and see either a remodeled or brand new Frankford.