Top Ten Honored at Annual Rotary Club Dinner

Each year, the local Rotary Clubs host the Top Ten Dinner to recognize the top ten students from the three valley schools — Sayre, Athens, and Waverly. And each year, there is a keynote speaker. This year’s guest was none other than Sayre graduate, Dr. Joseph Polinski.

Photo by Linda Noldy – val pals

Dr. Polinski’s speech echoed the concern of many educators. The message was a kind-hearted warning. In the quest for “collecting paper,” don’t overlook “collecting skills.” Joseph shared an emotional story of the event (along with the happy ending) that hastened his realization. He cautioned students to pause and reflect on what really matters. Accolades are meaningless if they don’t lead to the acquisition of skills. The number of ACE courses on your college application isn’t important unless you actually possess the skills the coursework implies.

Dr. Polinski then related that effort is the key to acquiring these skills. He reminded us of Edison’s statement that opportunities are often missed, because they come dressed in overalls and look like hard work. The Pareto Principle, known as the 80/20 Rule, was referenced next. As a Six Sigma Black Belt, Joseph was speaking my language when he explained how distinguishing the useful many from the vital few is what allows an individual — or an organization for that matter — to break the 80% barrier to become truly exceptional.

Dr. Polinski wrapped it all up when he indicated that it’s “pretty easy” to be “pretty good.” But hitting 80% isn’t exceptional. As Charles Osgood’s poem reminds us, pretty good is in fact pretty bad. Your journey is just beginning. Finish this junket hard as you springboard into the next phase.

Sayre’s Top Ten…

Photo by Daniel Polinski

(standing L to R):  Chloe Tracy, Kaitlyn Cron, Brandon Paris, Adriana Romano, Jeremy Marshall, Anna Moliski and Molly Ball; (seated L to R): Kaeli Sutryk, Andrea Noldy and Kaitlynn McCarter.

What did you do today that moves you in the direction of your life’s chief definite purpose?