Officer Dabrowski has a lot of sports jerseys for Jersey Day.
ADAMS, Mass. — Police Officer Nicholas Dabrowski spent last week connecting with homebound Hoosac Valley Elementary pupils through a series of daily broadcasts.
Schools have been closed for two weeks and won't reopen until May because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. But Dabrowski, the school resource officer, wanted to make sure no one missed out on some school spirit.
"Social media has been so negative and I'd just wanted to let the kids know we're thinking of them and give them something to do each day," he said.
Dabrowski said although he tends to keep to himself he does have a "goofy side." One night during dinner, his wife encouraged him to utilize this to let the kids know he was thinking about them.
"My wife knew that I missed my time at the school," he said. "Much of our dinner conversations are centered around my conversations with the kids at lunch."
That night he saw that the Hoosac Valley PTG was going to do a "virtual spirit week" online through Facebook. He told the group he wanted to help and started sending in daily themed videos.
Monday was Superhero Day and Dabrowski addressed students from his cruiser with both an Ant-Man and Incredible Hulk mask. He posted a similar video Tuesday (Crazy Hair Day) but instead of masks, he donned a rainbow troll wig and swimming goggles for good measure.
In both of these videos, he told students to stay safe, that he and the teachers missed them, and to, of course, to wash their hands.
These messages continued throughout the week with the videos that seemed to become more involved.
On Wednesday (Dress Like an Old Person Day), Dabrowski dressed like a kid and employed the help of his daughter Jordan, who dressed like a stereotypical old lady and helped him act out the scene. Then on Thursday (Jersey Day), he shared his collection of Michael Jordan basketball jerseys.
Finally, it was Pajama Day, and the officer filmed himself waking up for the workday in pink pajamas. Ready for a casual Friday, he tied up his boots and snapped on his bulletproof vest hoping the chief would be accepting of his attire.
In each post, Dabrowski asked students to share their own photos so there was a connecting point.
"This was the best way to stay in contact with the kids in the area," he said. "I've had my inbox filled with thanks from the teachers at the school as well. These are unprecedented times and we can get through it with some positivity."
Dabrowski said the videos only took a few minutes to make and he worked with whatever inspiration came to him — anything he thought the kids would enjoy.
He said, if anything, he hopes the videos can help bring some cheer in a world that most definitely seems complicated and scary to kids and, adults for that matter.
"I just think sometimes we get caught up and we need to focus on what is really important," he said. "Adults are terrified of what's going on and our kids sense things aren't going well. I just want the kids to smile and know we'll get through this."
Dabrowski said the time away from the school is equally challenging for him and noted being in the schools was part of why he wanted to be a police officer.
He's been an officer for 13 years in Adams and trained in Drug Abuse Resistance Education and as school resource officer right out of the academy. After his daughter's birth, he made the tough decision to step away from the schools and take up the overnight shift so he could take care of his daughter during the days, while his wife worked.
But, in 2018, he was able to return to the elementary school when his daughter enrolled.
"I stopped in to speak with the principals, and they welcomed me with open arms," he said. "They gave me an open door policy. They let me go into each classroom and show the kids the equipment I carry and tell them about my job."
Dabrowski said whenever possible he tries to spend time at the school. He eats lunch with the kids, plays at recess, and engages in other activities to show students that police offers should not be feared.
He said he wants to be a role model in their lives. Someone they can go to if they are in need or a familiar face when the world seems to be crumbling around them.
"The last two years of my career have been the most dangerous in terms of police calls, but my time in the school has been by far the most rewarding," he said. "I've walked into homes where children are crying because Mom and Dad have had a fight and the second they see "Officer Nick" they run over to give me a fist bump or a hug, and I know they feel safe because of my time in the school."
Dabrowski said he tries to connect with all students and notes when he was their age he literally sat in the same seat. He said the interaction with officers when he was in school was incredibly important to him.
"When I was their age I constantly interacted with Adams police officers," he said. "I was a pretty normal kid with a terrific family. I was never really in any trouble, but I always seemed to look up to our local law enforcement."
He said when it came down to it he either wanted to be in the NBA or a police officer
"Obviously, the NBA didn't pan out, but I wanted to be the positive role model that previous officers were to me," he said.
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Adams Board of Health Ready to Finalize Tobacco Regulations
By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Health wrapped up final edits on new tobacco regulations last week and inched closer to a public hearing.
Members answered some lingering questions Wednesday in regard to the proposed tobacco sales permit and hope to vote on a final draft next month.
"Thank you for going through this with a fine-toothed comb," board member David Rhoads said. "It looks good."
Some months ago, the Board of Health agreed to implement a new regulation that would limit the amount of tobacco sales permits allowed in town. The new regulation would not affect those already selling tobacco.
Director of Community Development Donna Cesan said the town has decided to terminate the proposal process for the Memorial Building redevelopment with the hopes of reissuing the RFP again in September.
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Council on Aging Director Erica Girgenti said COVID-19 has created new challenges for seniors and elder services throughout the country are finding new ways to protect the community's most vulnerable.
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