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Fifth-grade student receives Special Ambassador Award from the Special School District

Owen Benben, a fifth-grade student at Highcroft Ridge Elementary, received a Special Ambassador Award from the Special School District (SSD). The award is the highest recognition given by SSD and Owen is the youngest recipient of this year’s award. The Special Ambassador Award is presented to members of the community who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to the students and/or staff of SSD.

During his six years at Highcroft, Owen’s willingness to go above and beyond to help his peers with special needs has been exhibited every day at school. He often volunteers to be a partner for his peers with special needs.
Owen has repeatedly come up with great ideas to include students with special needs in the general education setting. In science class he has assisted his friends by helping them learn to pour and shake solutions during the experiments.
Over the years he has learned to be a good communication partner with peers that use voice output switches or communication devices. He has been a patient and encouraging communication partner that genuinely cares about what his peers want to say, no matter how long it takes them to say it.
Owen has even volunteered his time to record messages on his friends’ devices in his own voice in an effort to help his peers communicate more age-appropriately. He even went so far as to sing a recording into a friend’s communication device so that his friend could “sing” along to the national anthem at sporting events. When his classroom teachers have wanted to change seating arrangements, Owen has asked to be seated next to students with special needs so that he may continue to help them.
Over the past six years, Owen has truly exemplified what it means to be an ambassador for students with special needs. By acting as a true friend and advocating for others, Owen has been a role model.