Always With a Smile, Croton Teen Earns BOCES “Student of Distinction” Honor

In his class at the Walden School, Ben Lewis leads his classmates in their “Calming Group” activity, guiding them through breathing, stretching and other exercises.

It’s an example of the ever-helpful attitude for which the Croton-on-Hudson teenager was awarded the Putnam-Northern Westchester BOCES Student of the Month distinction at a brief ceremony in his home district of Croton-Harmon on Thursday.

“He takes total charge of that group,” teacher Lisa Fuentes told the Croton-Harmon Board of Education. “It’s amazing to watch.”

Faculty members from the Walden School, a service of PNW BOCES, praised Ben for his friendly demeanor and his willingness to help. Teachers aide Janet Patalano attended, bringing Ben a mylar balloon with “Congratulations!” on it. Walden School Principal Michael Sowul said Ben is an assistant for a coach when the younger students are around, and he helps out filling teacher’s orders for supplies, with supervision.

“Every day, he comes to school with a smile on his face and with a desire to make others happy,” Sowul said.

In the ceremony, Croton-Harmon Schools Superintendent Edward Fuhrman placed a medal around Ben’s neck and gave him a certificate.

“That was good,” Ben said of the award after the ceremony.

“He has an endearing personality,” said Fuentes. “He’s humorous. He’s very helpful at school.”

He takes charge of the calming group without needing help, and his six classmates follow along, Fuentes said.

“Right away, you notice how independent he likes to be,” she said.

His mother, Ivy Lewis, said she was grateful to BOCES for the honor.

“It’s lovely that they recognize that effort should be rewarded,” she said.