Awards presented at downtown dinner

Area residents, school administrators and students gathered Thursday to recognize those who have done outstanding work in education at The Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce’s 12th annual Education Celebration.

“I just really think this showcases incredible young people, educators and business partners,” said Christina Herman, chairwoman of the event.

The night honored 20 individuals and a business partner for their work in the county’s education. The event concluded with Daniel Ma, a Williamsport Area High School senior, being named as the 2013 Outstanding Student. Ma received a cash prize of $250 from M&T Bank and a $500 textbook scholarship from the Williamsport Sun-Gazette.

Ma said it was an honor to receive the award knowing that there were many deserving nominees. Each school district and St. John Neumann Regional Academy recognized one student with Ma being selected to receive the overall award.

Ma gave a special thank you to his family for putting him in a position to succeed.

“I know my family has worked really hard and has gone through a lot to put me where I am today,” he said.

He added after the ceremony that the recognition would serve as motivation for his future.

“It’s motivation and encouragement,” Ma said. “I feel like I’m on the right track and if I keep going I can go places and contribute to the community, which this is all about.”

Dr. Kathleen Kelley, Williamsport Area School District superintendent, said it was an “exciting night” for the district.

“I can’t say how proud I am as the superintendent of Williamsport Area School District,” Kelley said.

Students were selected by their individual schools because of their performances in academics, leadership, activities and community service.

“It’s not just about good grades or scoring the winning goal it’s about giving back to the community,” said chamber CEO and President Vincent Matteo.

Each student received a set of twig crayons from the First Community Foundation Partnership, which Jennifer D. Wilson, partnership CEO and president, explained was to show how diverse the world is. Students also were given a grant to give to their favorite nonprofit.

Sun-Gazette Publisher Bernard A. Oravec called the students the area’s “best and brightest.”

Teachers from the nine schools also were recognized with Outstanding Educators awards. Kelley, who presented the awards called the educators, “some of the most important people in the community,” for their work.

Marilouise Mazzante, 1976 Lycoming College graduate, and Richard Grafmyre, 1973 Pennsylvania College of Technology graduate, were recognized as Alumni of the Year.

Anthony H. Visco Jr., Architects received the Business Partner in Education Award for its participation in career expos, job shadowing programs and internships.

Andree Phillips, chair of the education committee, said that interacting with the reward winners was a “real treat.”

“It gives you faith in the future,” she added on seeing all of the good work of the recipients.