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John Marquet, principal of the Union County Educational Services Commission, pays tribute to Phadnerson Lahens, who is in his second year at Hillcrest Academy North, as an unsung hero in this New Jersey School Boards Association video.

Marquet calls Lahens a “leader in the building” and notes that he has excelled in his studies even though his mother has been courageously battling cancer. The oldest of five boys, Lahens is a remarkable young man, Marquet says.

In the video, Marquet notes how the school learned about Lahens’ mother’s illness when staff members expressed concern about him being absent from school. The school learned that getting to school could sometimes be a struggle for him and “due to his mother’s extended illness, their housing situation has been unstable to say the least,” Marquet said. At times, Lahens was not sure if he would have a place to go after school, he said.

“His attitude is perfectly uplifting to every person in our small and humble school building,” Marquet said. “We feel privileged to have him as a student.”