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2024 Recognition Day

Sat Jun 15 2024

On a sunny Saturday, June 15, 2024, Doctor Franklin Perkins School hosted its annual Recognition Day ceremony on their picturesque campus at 971 Main Street in Lancaster. This event is a cherished tradition that celebrates the achievements of students throughout the academic year and honors select students, staff, and community members who have made significant contributions to the RFK Community Alliance.

The ceremony recognized 19 students from across the state, highlighting their remarkable progress and accomplishments. Heartfelt remarks were shared by students, staff, and award recipients, creating an atmosphere of pride and celebration.

Dr. Michael W. Ames, President and CEO of RFK Community Alliance, eloquently articulated the school's mission and the supportive environment it strives to create:

“For too many of our students, before coming here, school had become something to fear - a place where they had often been made to feel inadequate and that was a great source of anxiety. Knowing this, we work very hard to help students feel comfortable, to help them be themselves, and to provide the support they need to thrive.”

One of the most memorable moments of the day was the speech by Student Speaker and graduating class member, Fin Leary, from Worcester. Reflecting on his 8-year journey at Doctor Franklin Perkins School, Fin shared a poignant and humorous walk down memory lane:

“Today, as I leave here as a well-rounded, slightly more mature young adult, this school has changed me so much for the better…I can tell you all for certain that if it was not for all the extracurricular activities and the unique learning environment here, and if I were just stuck in a classroom all day listening to lectures, I would not have graduated.”

Fin's words resonated with everyone present, encapsulating the essence of what makes Doctor Franklin Perkins School a unique and transformative place for its students.

Recognition Day was a testament to the dedication of the school’s staff, the resilience of the students, and the supportive community that surrounds them. Congrats to all the students recognized!

The event also recognized a prominent group of people:

Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, Kim Driscoll, received the Distinguished Service Award in the Field of Public Service. As part of the first all-women executive team in the Commonwealth’s history, Lieutenant Governor Driscoll has spearheaded several administration priorities and initiatives, including significant involvement in the state’s affordable housing production, economic development, improvements to the public education system, and serving as liaison to cities and towns across Massachusetts. We know through our work with her, that she understands the complexity of students who require special education, that education is not one size fits all, and that we have to meet students where they are. She has brought her local knowledge to her statewide position, and successfully advocated for and implemented supports for the special education workforce, and she understands that schools like Perkins are, at their best, providing life changing education.


In accepting the award, Lieutenant Governor Driscoll said " As someone who has worked in public service for almost her entire career, I’m honored to be here today, alongside some other incredible advocates, to receive the Distinguished Service Award in the Field of Public Service. It's clear that the students here at Doctor Franklin Perkins School have learned the value of perseverance, dedication, and hard work. You all have learned how to overcome huge obstacles in order to achieve the dreams and goals you’ve set for yourself. I am incredibly proud of each and every one of you for the journeys you’ve gone through to get here today."


Don Lowe, RFK Community Alliance Trustee, and Bolton Town Administrator received the Distinguished Service Award in the Field of Public Service. Don has served on the Board of Trustees for over 10 years, some of that time as Board Chair and Treasurer, which is his current role. In addition to being a champion for the children, teens, and adults served by RFK Community Alliance, Don is deeply committed to serving his local community and working to make this world a kinder and more compassionate place. 


Margaret Hladysz, Director of Training at RFK Community Alliance, received the Distinguished Service Award for Dedicated Service to RFK Community Alliance. In her 10 years as a team member, Margaret has significantly enhanced our training and orientation activities, and has shown a great passion and dedication to making sure that whether someone is a new employee or has been with us for years, that she is providing learning opportunities that inspire everyone to have a growth mindset, curiosity, and drive for excellence.


Win Clark, Lancaster community member, received the Distinguished Service Award in the Field of Community Service. Win is a truly caring and involved community member in the town of Lancaster, spending countless hours convening people to discuss and collaborate on important issues, as well improving his community. He is inclusive by nature, and often invites our residential students to join in community activities.