Mike Sinicropi, an Amsterdam native and a man of science and engineering, gave the Amsterdam High School Class of 2018 a mathematical formula for success in life.
Sinicropi was AHS's class of 1986 salutatorian as well as the captain and quarterback of the school's football team. His roots in Amsterdam run deep, both of his parents having served as school district teachers and his sister Dr. Michele Downing an assistant superintendent currently serving as interim high school principal. He gave the keynote address to the graduating class of his alma mater Saturday.
"Some of my family has walked the halls of this school every year for the last 66 years," Sinicropi pointed out.
Sinicropi told the students about his career after leaving Amsterdam, how he earned degrees in mechanical and biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester, how he went on to hold four U.S. patents and how he's currently the vice president of Matheson Gas, located in Irving, Texas. He said the key decisions in his life, when to get married, when to buy a home, where to work, when to move on to a better job, were all made using what he calls: The 75 percent rule.
"If you decide to get married and you're only 50 percent ready, that's a bad thing, but if you wait until you're 100 percent, then you're never going to get married," Sinicropi said.
He said the same idea applies to career decisions.
"If you walk into a job and you're only 50 percent ready, you probably aren't going to perform very well. But if you take a job where you're 100 percent ready, you're going to be bored. You aren't going to make any mistakes, you aren't going to grow, you're just going to spin your wheels for a few years," he said. "You want to be about 75 percent ready, then you'll be ready to be successful, and still grow. Never take a job when you're more than 75 percent ready, because you owe yourself more than that. Whether it's five years from now or 10 years from now. It's your willingness to take on more challenging opportunities that will enable you to grow."
The themes of mathematics, music and personal growth permeated the 210th commencement of Amsterdam High School.
Downing gave the welcoming speech to the packed crowd inside Amsterdam's high school gymnasium. She also started the first of several songs performed by district students at the graduation, "Seasons of Love" from the Broadway musical "Rent", by belting out its signature chorus line, "Five hundred twenty five thousand, six hundred minutes."
"That was out of my comfort zone as a math teacher," Downing said after singing the song. "Don't be afraid to move out of your comfort zone and believe you can do whatever you set your mind to."
By the numbers, 225 students graduated from Amsterdam on Saturday, 36 of them were members of the National Honor Society, 15 were members of the Science Honor Society and 11 were graduates of the HFM BOCES P-Tech high school program, a program which enables students to earn an associates degree while still in high school.
Class Salutatorian Kaylee Cappuccio told her class that the district's mascot. "the Rugged Ram," is an apt symbol for how they should conduct their lives.
"Rams are determined, they have long curved horns and they take on challenges, quite literally, head on," she said.
Class Valedictorian Molly Monge encouraged her classmates to question what is popular.
"In high school, many of us have tried to fit in, have even changed ourselves into what others deemed popular, but what is popular? Who even defines that term? Popular is trend that continually changes throughout your life," she said.
School Board President Nellie Bush challenged the students to live up to an acronym, RESPECT.
"The R stands for resilience; You're going to make mistakes, but keep going; E means strive for excellence, not mediocrity; S, stay focused, don't be satisfied with the status quo; P, have passion and perseverance, which you heard from your salutatorian and valedictorian, never, never give up; E, evaluate as you go along, but be empathetic toward others; C, compassion and caring; and lastly T, trust in your instincts, never doubt yourself, thank those who have been part of your success and don't forget to be grateful," she said.