HAZLE TWP. – Hazleton Area High School senior Tyler Palma used 21st century technology to find a 2,500-year-old quote and turn it into an award-winning essay, arguably proving that, while education has changed dramatically through the millennia, the core goal remains the same.
Socrates, a famous philosopher, once stated that, ‘Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.' Palma wrote in the opening of his essay, entered in a contest sponsored by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
I believe firmly in the verity of this statement, Palma wrote, because when there is a desire to learn, education is, in reality, a limitless thing.
Palma concedes that, while writing always came easy to me, he has no intention of making a living as a wordsmith. I want to go into engineering. And he didn't voluntarily enter the contest – part of a new effort by PSBA to highlight the value of public schools dubbed Stand up for Public Education.
It was an assignment given in my English class, he said.
But given the assignment to write a 400 word essay on what does public education mean to me? Palma opted to search online for an inspirational quote and found it in the words of a philosopher who walked the halls of ancient Greece more than 400 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.
Once I found the central basis, which is the quote, the essay just flowed from there, Palma said.
About 2,000 people statewide entered PSBA's contest, 1,200 elementary students making posters and about 800 high school students writing essays. Palma was the only local winner, and he conceded it surprised him.
I was proud of my essay, I thought I did well, but it was a statewide contest; I thought there had to be better ones.
The win came with little more than bragging rights and a chance to read the essay at a PSBA conference in Harrisburg earlier this month, which Palma couldn't make because of a scheduling conflict. He swims and plays water polo for the school. He recorded a video of himself reading it that was played at the conference.
And what type of engineering does this articulate non-writer from White Haven plan to be?
I want go into aerospace engineering.
Talk about limitless opportunities …