Class of 2021: Mason Beers

By: Mr. Greg Angilly, Upper School Director of Student Life
Mason Hamilton Beers will make you smile. I don’t care if you are in the worst mood of your life, Mason Hamilton Beers will make you smile!

Mason arrived at Cape Henry Collegiate in the Fall of 2017 having attended the Williams School in Norfolk for his primary education. Mason knew of a few Cape students, but truly did not know anyone well when he arrived for freshman year.  Pretty surreal to consider, as now EVERYONE at CHC knows who Mason is!  Mason recalls his first friendship made - Ben Scott - someone he still considers a good friend today and he has vivid memories of 9th grade English class and goofing around with both Ben and Wiley Levine. 

Mason had a fairly normal freshman year.  He acclimated to the rigors of CHC academics, he passionately supported CHC soccer and hoops and he played lacrosse for the Dolphins. As his 10th grade year began, Mason had hopes of making an impact on the varsity lacrosse team but also in continuing to push himself academically.  When we look in the rearview mirror to consider his academic career, he quickly cites Mr. Palmer’s AP US History course as the toughest class he’s taken at Cape Henry.  Mason enjoyed - at least in hindsight - how hard Mr. Palmer pushed his students.  He is fair and demanding and “he pushes his students to be the best.”  

As the Spring rolled around, Mason was set to make the varsity lacrosse team and have an impact.  As one of his coaches - I was excited to see the lanky sophomore on the field and excited to coach such a nice young man.  Mason developed some stomach issues that he could not seem to shake throughout the season which led him to seek medical advice.  Mason was enjoying the summer between his sophomore and junior year when he received a phone call that would change his life - he had cancer. He vividly remembers the phone call - a fun summer turned into a battle for his life.  He has memories of calling his closest friends and family to tell them and this clearly brings up a good deal of emotion for the young man. A six month aggressive chemotherapy treatment program was the game plan and Mason jumped in with both feet to attack this evil disease. 

Our community, led by Reiley Beers, his older sister and a 2020 grad, showed full support for Mason aka Juice Box (We will get to that nickname later). Every upper school student had a green wristband on in support of Mason and from time to time we were able to Skype and Facetime with him offering him the love and support.  In a world filled with division, our collective love of Mason and respect for his fight truly brought our upper school campus together. In November, Mason was told he had beat the cancer into remission.  I still get goosebumps thinking about our assembly when Mason returned to campus.  The ovation was electric and I was so happy he was able to see the love we all had for him and the respect we all have for his perseverance and resilience. 

The cancer story should end right here.  Mason “conquered the world” and from November to the start of the 2020 Summer, the smile on his face was infectious.  Then another twist which would likely have devastated many - the cancer had returned.  Mason recalls where he was and who he was with when this call came.  He was devastated but he refused to quit and allow this disease to win.  The Beers family decided on a very aggressive course of action and Mason left the 757 to head to DC and go through an intense bone marrow transplant procedure,  courtesy of his match, Reiley Beers. Mason was forced to stay in DC for several months of treatment yet still found a way to be part of our community.  Whether he was Zooming in for an assembly or creating self-deprecating and incredibly humorous TikTok’s or Instagram stories, Mason refused to allow anyone to feel sorry for him.  He would not be defined by a disease -- instead he would battle and beat it - and once again, he got the news of remission!  

It was very important to Mason that CANCER not define this senior spotlight. It’s impossible to discuss who Mason is without showcasing how amazingly strong a human being he is.  He’s helped everyone in this community understand resilience and perseverance.  He’s responsible for uniting us and reminding us what truly matters and we are all a better community because of Mason Hamilton Beers. 

With that said - let’s hear some more fun stuff!  
  • His nickname is Juice Box.  When I first heard this I wondered how in the world this became his nickname and his good friend Carter Atherton explained - “Well Coach - his last name is Beers - but he’s just too nice to be called Beer Can or something alcohol related -- he’s the nicest guy - so we’re calling him Juice Box.”  Juice Box it is.  
  • Mason had the task of trying to cover Collin Shellenberger in lacrosse.  For those unfamiliar with the name - he’s one of the best players in college lacrosse - suffice to say Juice Box had a tough day!  
  • He has incredible memories of times spent laughing with the Trivia Club and good friends Matty V, Carter, Reiley and Chris Chen. 
  • He’s friends to many but will never forget the role Carter Atherton has played in his life. He loves Cole, Ashby, Wiley, Julia, Mason Dudley and Ben Scott but reminded me he has so many other friends as well. 
  • He mentioned AJ Rosenblum and how often he’d get a relatively random message from AJ encouraging him or making him laugh and speaks about how that aspect of this community will always make him smile.

Clearly, Mason has a unique perspective on life and I want to make sure everyone who reads this understands his personality and his ability to allow us to be part of his battle - it’s positively influenced all of us at Cape Henry -- not just his peers.

 I personally have learned so much from this young man.  When he found out his cancer returned - we sat in my office and shared a cry.  Transparently - I think I lost it first!  He was sitting in a chair in my office and I told him no one was going to sit in that chair until he returned from battling cancer a second time and reclaimed that chair.  In twenty plus years of being an educator - my favorite moment was earlier this semester when the Juice Box returned to school and sat in that chair! 

I asked Mason to give some advice to our younger students - “make the most of opportunities - go to battle of bands - go to the plays - go to the championship game- be part of this community - support this place and make it better. Do your part - have fun.”

Mason has told me he felt obligated to run for SCA President as he wanted to give back to a community that supported him.  Mason Hamilton Beers - you’ve done more for this community than you can imagine.  Go conquer the world - which starts with you at Colgate University this Fall.  We are so immensely proud of you and all that you’ve accomplished in your time at CHC.  You are a brave man and you will change the world.  

With immense love and respect - we wish you a farewell for now!  Go, Colgate!
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