Tag Archives: Fire Chief Michael Hanson

Grit Defines Perkins Class of 2017

CEO Michael W. Ames, Ph.D. (left), Perkins Behavioral Health Director Dianne Walsh, and Perkins COO Timothy Hammond.


As the clouds parted to reveal the sunshine rather than downpours, Perkins graduates paraded across the manor lawn proudly dressed in Perkins purple ready to receive the accolades they have worked so hard to achieve. Presiding over the event was CEO Michael W. Ames, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer Timothy Hammond, and Director of Education Cindy Wing. The President of the Board of Trustees Don Lowe and others handed out hard-earned diplomas and certificates of completion to 31 students – 28 seniors and three who are leaving Perkins for other schools. This is one of the largest classes Perkins has watched cross the stage.

Student Speaker Christian Slack


In his opening address, Michael spoke about the importance of two things that led to the student’s success. Those two things are grit and the importance of the Perkins community. Grit, Michael explained, was first popularized by Dr. Angela Duckworth in her book simply titled “Grit”.  Dr. Duckworth is a Psychologist and Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.  She is also the winner of a McCarther Genius award. Grit, she describes as one’s passion, stamina and ability to stick to goals, to persist, and to learn from mistakes and failure. Michael noted that he saw grit over and over again on display when meeting with today’s twelfth graders. “In conversation after conversation with 12th-grade students and their teachers, I heard about how hard they have worked and how they have overcome challenges,” Michael said. “Because of their perseverance, and their willingness to work hard, accept support, make mistakes and to learn from them … in essence, because of their grit… they are here today and we are celebrating their accomplishments.”

Erin Bradley received a Distinguished Service Award for her work with children.

Christian Slack, the student speaker, noted that when he walked through the doors of Perkins a year ago, he had no idea that the school and, more importantly, the people inside the school, would change who he was to become. “Since starting at Perkins I have had the opportunity to really connect with people and change my outlook on life,” Christian said. “I have learned how to be more positive about myself and what I need to do to help myself be more successful.” Christian plans to join Perkins Adult Transition program in July in the hopes of going on to college to become a chef.

Per tradition, several individuals were presented with Distinguished Service Awards. The 2017 recipients included: Erin Bradley, Executive Director of the Children’s League of Massachusetts, for her work in the field of service to children, Lancaster Fire Chief Michael Hanson in the field of public service. Michael has served the town of Lancaster’s fire department for 26 years and has been chief since 2013. Dianne Walsh, director of Perkins Behavioral Health Group Practice, was recognized for her work in the field of service to the students of Perkins and in recognition of her devoted efforts on behalf of Perkins students and residents, as well as individuals from the community.

The highlight of the event was the highly anticipated slideshow of the year’s events as well as the closing choral number, complete with drums. The event concluded with the recessional of the Alma Mater. All were invited to a celebratory luncheon held at the Janeway dining hall at the conclusion of the event.

Fire Chief Michael Hanson with Director of Education Cindy Wing.