An inspiring gift for giving
HANSON — Following his first year as DARE and Resource Officer Hanson Police Officer William Frazier graduated nearly 100 students from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program Friday, April 17 at Hanson Middle School.
The afternoon program was a change from past ceremonies, which were held in the evening and marked the inaugural presentation of the Liam Talbot Award to the school’s outstanding overall DARE student.
Principal William Tranter addressed students and reminded them that the officers and leaders in the community were there to support them through all of life’s ups and downs.
“We are here for you,” he said. “If you ever find yourself in a place where you are asking, ‘How can I get help?’ these people care and we are here for you.”
Frazier called the time he spends with the students a privilege and is encouraged by the community support for the DARE program.
Guest speaker Liam Talbot, 17, of Hanson and his mother Maryellen Talbot were special invitees during the event to present the award named for him and serve as keynote speaker.
Talbot, who struggles daily with health issues stemming from chronic arsenic poisoning, missed most of middle school as he was in the hospital for weeks at a time.
“He is absolutely an inspirational young man,” Frazier said Monday of establishing the award. “He is a role model for our community … one of the toughest people, mentally and physically, I’ve met. He has overcome things in life that I could not imagine.”
Talbot said he and his mother were both overcome with emotion when they found out the first annual Liam Talbot Award was going to be presented at the DARE graduation.
He sat for a few moments in between taking photos with students and staff after the ceremony.
“If I am going to use energy — this is well spent,” said Talbot. “As much as I give — I get so much more in return.”
He called the award an honor, and joked that he is very rarely left speechless but when he received the news he had no words … the flood of emotion was “a dream.”
Talbot and Frazier were co-presenters of the new award as student Rose Hansen was called on stage before her peers. She was this year’s outstanding DARE student and participant, Frazier said.
Talbot was diagnosed as a small child and said he often saw drug abusers during his hospital stays.
“I have seen so many people who are in the hospital because they have taken drugs,” said Talbot, who also spoke against bullying.
He urged students to be strong about making the right choices when it comes to saying No to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes and commended the first responders who serve their community.
“I wouldn’t be alive without the emergency services of Hanson and Whitman,” he said.
Talbot challenged the sixth grade students to take everything they have learned in DARE and go to the community and circulate it. Respect, safety and love are three positive traits he shares with others daily.
“Making the right choices is not always easy, but I challenge you to stand up for someone who is being bullied,” he said. “Be the first one to standup and others will follow.”
Talbot was recently honored by the Make a Wish Foundation with a trip to Busch Gardens Florida and met singer Gavin DeGraw. While Liam’s chronic health issues slow him down on occasion, and he has regular medical treatments, his face is always lit with a smile.
Despite all his medical hurdles he has chosen to live and share positive energy.
In a light-hearted moment during Friday’s event, Frazier posed for a selfie with Hanson’s state Rep. Josh Cutler as students waved in the background and cheered for one another.
Cutler asked students to go out into the community as ambassadors and use what they have learned in DARE as guidelines in living as positive role models.
Officer Rick Nawazelski was acknowledged as Frazier’s mentor with a lifetime service award for his 19 years of DARE commitment and service within the community. He retired last July.
Bridgewater Savings is a long time supporter of the DARE program and they were among the guests in attendance Friday.