Annual Education Celebration a night of inspiration, hope

Inspired. Impressed. Hopeful.

If we had to wrap this year’s Education Celebration of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce into just three words, those would be our picks.

We heard messages of inspiration as alumni and business award recipients accepted their honors, and we were particularly impressed by Christopher Gayman, the alumnus of the year recipient from Pennsylvania College of Technology.

A 2010 graduate and original equipment manufacturer sales manager for Lycoming Engines, Gayman encouraged students to explore a career in the trades.

“In the past few years, there seems to be stigma put on the people who are good at the trades,” Gayman said. “They’re somehow sold as not being as smart or as well-paid as some of our academic friends. But the reality, in my opinion, is that those people are often the smartest people that you could interact with. They are the ones that can fix the things that are broken, and they can create things from scratch.”

We were impressed with the quality of teachers in our schools as 10 educators from Lycoming County’s eight school districts and St. John Neumann Regional Academy were honored for excellence in their profession. This was the chamber’s 19th annual Education Celebration, and this year’s class of educators grew the total honored in the past two decades to 172. People who choose to live in our region are fortunate to have these dedicated professionals shaping our children.

And then there is hope, which was evident on the faces of the nine students who were nominated by their districts for student of the year honors.

We saw their hope, and felt hopeful ourselves, upon hearing the words of Jersey Shore Area High School student Maxwell Ferguson, this year’s Outstanding Senior of the Year.

“Many people have doubts about handing the future of our country to the next generation,” Maxwell told a packed room largely made up of adults. “But, I would like them to have a conversation with any of the students up here,” he said. “I have no doubt that our country is in good hands.”

With young people such as those who crossed the event stage, we have no doubts either. This evening certainly helped to shift our minds from the politics and worries of the day to a sense of hope and excitement for the future.