By Allen Gelfond
Would you trek many miles out into the woods by yourself to camp in utter isolation? Would you travel to a remote location and hike an extra treacherous mountain trail few have ever seen? Would you send yourself pummeling down an icy slope with skis built by your own hands? While such extreme undertakings might just be just a little too extreme for most of us, they are well within the scopes of one teacher here at East. Meet Mr. Capozzi, a spectacular tech teacher, avid outdoorsman, and man of many skills and talents.
Mr. Capozzi is known to teach an assortment of technology classes such as Design and Drawing for Production (DDP), Civil Engineering and Architecture (CEA), Principles of Engineering (POE), and a few more. His classes are unique due to the sophistication of the material and the use of software, such as Autodesk Revit used for architectural design, that few students get to see before they start college. Maintaining a semi-formal style of learning, Mr. Capozzi ensures that students efficiently develop new skills.
When asked about what started his interest in technology, Mr. Capozzi explained, “As a kid in middle school and high school, I always enjoyed taking technology courses. So I was really interested in building things and using them.” He added, “Specifically bikes, so I was always into working on bikes, riding bikes, and building things to ride bikes on.”. But as a man of many interests, Mr. Capozzi didn’t just work on bikes, he also dug into the technical aspects of lacrosse sticks as he maintained and modified them and also made a hobby around photography. He went as far as building a darkroom in his basement to develop negatives. While serious about his interest in photography, Mr. Cappozi decided against pursuing a career in such a narrow discipline.
When choosing what to go to college for, Mr. Capozzi shared his philosophy that college education is a big financial investment so that the best path is one that results in the best returns on the investment. So, instead of photography, Mr. Capozzi decided that a career in technology education would allow him to continue to engage in the manufacturing and design process that he was already interested in while also giving him a tangible license and career path.
However, when asked what content area he would teach if he couldn’t teach technology, Mr. Capozzi’s answer wasn’t what many would have guessed. With a love for reading and critical thinking, Mr. Capozzi says he would have opted to be an English teacher if not a technology teacher. Going back to his experience in high school (Mr. Capozzi attended Clarence High School and grew up in Clarence), he explained, “I was the first class to have a SUPA class available, so I took the SUPA English courses that I enjoyed and learned a lot from.”
When it comes to activities outside of school, Mr. Capozzi has racked up an impressive resume of hobbies. Mr. DeLellis, a Technology teacher here at east explained, “Mr. Capozzi is probably one of the most determined/driven people I know. He enjoys a good challenge!” When Mr. Capozzi was asked to summarize his hobbies, he listed hiking, skiing, mountain biking, backpacking, canoe tripping, road biking, and fishing. It’s clear that Mr. Capozzi enjoys spending his time outside, but he also added that he particularly enjoys being far enough into the woods to be out of cell service.
When asked to describe a particularly interesting experience he’s had, Mr. Capozzi remained quite humble saying that “it’s easy to look at your life and think it’s boring because you’ve already done all the things in your life.” But, of course, there still was a story to be told.
“So there’s this old hermit, his name is Noah John Rondeau and he lived on the cold river, which was like 10 miles from the closest road. He lived there by himself for a long time and was the major of Cold River, population 1. I spent some time camping in his old hermitage near his old cabin, hiking 15 miles to get to that spot.” He continued, “Camping there and fishing and eating the fish that he used to, all native, non-stocked, heritage stream brook trout” was a really cool experience. In the middle of this whole trip dedicated to isolation, he said, “all of a sudden, like 10 miles from the closest road, a freaking helicopter flies over the river valley with a bunch of military guys standing on the rails of the chopper. It was really funny because I was going as far out as I could to be secluded and then I got buzzed by a helicopter in the middle of this wilderness.” He concluded, “Just a really funny, weird experience that I would never have imagined would have happened.
Skiing is also a big component of Mr. Capozzi’s life. As some may know, Mr. Capozzi has been involved in the school ski club for quite some time and could often be seen skiing with Guidance Counselor Mr. Weber on the Tuesday outings to Holiday Valley. If one was particularly observant, however, they may have noticed the unique wooden skis Mr. Capozzi would use. And, to no surprise to those that know him, Mr. Capozzi’s skis were truly hand-made by him. When asked how he got into the impressive task of making his skis, Mr. Capozzi explained as if it was an everyday occurrence that it all started with an interest in buying new skis. However, looking at the process that other manufacturers used, Mr. Capozzi realized that it’s a process he understands very well and was within the realm of possibilities for him to replicate. As a stickler for doing things correctly, Mr. Capozzi realized that if he was going to make them, he was going to make them to industry standards. Tech teacher Mr. DeLellis added, “He pours his heart and soul into his work and it’s very evident!”
After investing in creating his own production line and making many iterations of the skis, Mr. Capozzi realized that his ski-building endeavor gained more momentum than predicted. After getting many requests for his skis, Mr. Capozzi launched a website to sell his homemade wooden skis.
Some More Fun Facts about Mr. Capozzi:
He has a beagle cavalier spaniel mix named Milo
Recommends that everyone see the movie Good Will Hunting at some point in their lives
Top of his bucket list included exploring hard to reach parts of the Andes in Chile and Argentina
Mr. Capozzi also offers some advice to students here at East. He recommends not focusing on the number of your grade but rather focusing on the amount of progress you can make with your understanding of the topic. He explained that students get hung up on getting a 100, but in truth “what you have to do to get a 100 and what you have to do to get a thorough understanding of the content aren’t always the same thing.” It’s important to reach towards “understanding content in a way that will be relevant to your future” and “focus less on grades and more on learning.”