August zones out for most of the speeches but perks up when a teacher calls Honor Roll, which he made. Then, Mr. Tushman presents medals for academic excellence. Finally, he introduces the Henry Ward Beecher medal, which has traditionally honored students who volunteered a lot. Mr. Tushman explains that while he was researching the award, he discovered that Mr. Beecher was a firm proponent of kindness, courage, and friendship. He chokes up a little bit as he calls August up to receive the award.
By honoring August with this award, Mr. Tushman shows August just how much he supports him and believes in everything August has done to get through the school year. It's also a way for Mr. Tushman to tell the other students and parents in attendance (like Julian and his mom) that August is a valued member of the community.