An hour later, August and his classmates listen to Mr. Tushman's address. Mr. Tushman jokes about how long-winded he is before saying that fifth and sixth graders are a special group, as they're between being kids and being adults. He lists the ways in which the students have hopefully improved, and says that the best marker of success is how kind they've been. He reads a J.M. Barrie quote about being "kinder than necessary," and explains that he loves it because "kinder than necessary" isn't exactly measurable.
The fact that Beecher Prep gives awards for academic achievement shows that the school certainly values academics, but Mr. Tushman's address suggests that the real project of adolescence is learning how to be a good and kind person in the world. Adolescence is a time when kids can experiment with their identities, but Mr. Tushman insists that it's best to be kind.
Mr. Tushman reads a quote from Christopher Nolan, also about kindness, and then leans forward. He tells the students that he wants them to understand the value of being kind. He wants them to know that if they were all just a little kinder than necessary, the world would be a better place.
Here, Mr. Tushman positions kindness as being one way for his students to combat the social system and the bullying that plagued Beecher Prep this year. This sentiment is supported by Amos, Henry, and Miles's actions and the subsequent changes that took place.