What award does August Pullman receive in Wonder?

August Pullman receives the Henry Ward Beecher award in Wonder. This is given in recognition of service to the community. August receives this award for his many small acts of kindness that have made his school community a better place.

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At his middle school graduation, August Pullman, or Auggie, is given the Henry Ward Beecher award. This award, named for the nineteenth-century social reformer and preacher, is given out yearly to a student in recognition of their acts of service for others. Auggie had faced a lot of difficulties when he first attended his new school. He is teased by others and even betrayed by his good friend. He has many reasons to be bitter and distrustful. Instead, he repeatedly extends his kindness to others.

When Mr. Tushman, the school's director, presents this award, he notes just how much Auggie has grown and matured since first attending the school. He makes it a point to recognize how Auggie's many acts of compassion, big and small, have made the school community a better place. Normally the Henry Ward Beecher award goes to a student in recognition of service or good works. Mr. Tushman recognizes that good works come in many different forms. While Auggie had not done a single grand act of service, his "quiet strength" has been of service to many in the school. Mr. Tushman points out that this represents a type of emotional growth that is more important than any type of academic gains that a student could make.

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Better known as Auggie, the main character struggles with his physical differences for most of the novel and longs to simply be ordinary—to have the kind of face that doesn't draw attention and that people don't feel compelled to quickly look away from. Auggie tries various coping mechanisms, from growing bangs long enough to hide behind and wearing an astronaut helmet to hide behind even more.

When he goes to public school for the first time, he has to adapt to being in a world that does notice his differences and doesn't always treat him kindly. Yet Auggie meets adversity with resilience and a good dose of humor. Even when Jack betrays him, Auggie eventually extends forgiveness to him.

Auggie's character teaches the importance of kindness, compassion, and loyalty, and at the end of the year, he receives the Henry Ward Beecher Award for being the student whose kindness has "carried up the most hearts." The award shows that others at his school, both students and adults, value the unique perspective and gifts of a boy who at one point only longs to hide from the world.

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During the middle school graduation ceremony, August receives the Henry Ward Beecher medal. This medal is given to honor those students “who have been notable or exemplary in certain areas throughout the school year.” The award is named after Henry Ward Beecher, a great social reformist and clergyman in America in the nineteenth century.

It is important to note Mr. Lawrence Tushman’s speech during this graduation ceremony. Mr. Tushman is the director of the Middle School. His speech revolves around kindness, the need for it in everyday life. He says this:

The best way to measure how much you’ve grown isn’t by inches or the number of laps you can now run around the track, or even your grade point average—though those things are important, to be sure. It’s what you’ve done with your time, how you’ve chosen to spend your days, and whom you’ve touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.

Further, he quotes this from the book The Little White Bird by J. M. Barrie:

Shall we make a new rule of life . . . always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?

Through these and other quotes, Mr. Tushman communicates the theme of kindness to his audience. Later on, while preparing to present the Henry Ward Beecher medal, he enumerates desirable qualities that can push human beings to greatness. He says this:

Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings.

Clearly, August is worthy of this award, for, throughout the school year, he has shown kindness to himself and to other students. He has been friendly to all students, even when his friendship is not reciprocated. He has braved unkindness in all forms as a result of his facial deformity. There were times when he felt like giving up and not going to school anymore, because of the bullying and rejection from the other students. However, his strength of character has seen him through it all. He has made friends who are proud of him as a person, friends like Julian and Summer. His strength of character has enabled him to perform well academically, in a somewhat hostile environment, even though this is his first year in school, having previously been homeschooled. While initially he was shunned by many people at school because of his face, his beautiful traits shine out to capture the hearts of many people at the school by the end of the year.

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