ANGOLA — The Angola High School Class of 2019 crossed the threshold to the future On June 9.

During commencement in the Angola High School gym, the valedictorian, Eric Cockroft, and salutatorian, Annie Delgadillo, were named.

A decision was made four years ago to change the way the two top students of the class would be recognized, said counselor Dave Police. This is the first class to be affected by the new policy.

While in the past, the valedictorian and salutatorian were awarded during the end-of-year awards ceremony, the Metropolitan School District of Steuben County now will announce them at graduation.

It was not a mystery that Cockroft and Delgadillo would be the title holders, and both had speeches prepared for their moments at the podium.

“During the darkest of times ... we create our own futures, we create our own goals and we create our own benchmarks,” Delgadillo told her classmates and the capacity crowd at graduation. She will study environmental policy at Columbia University in New York City. She said she’s dreamed since seventh grade about attending the stand-out educational institution, which she said is making an impact on a world scale.

“I want to help the environment as much as possible,” said Delgadillo, the daughter of Lisbeth Barroeta.

Cockroft, the son of Mark and Edie Cockroft, will study computer engineering at Purdue University. He said his high school achievement came in part through time management learned from playing three sports and carrying an advanced academic load. Cockroft was a kicker for the Hornets and also played soccer in the fall and baseball in the spring.

He said he learned to “take my time in school seriously.” He used his free time to his best advantage. With a flair for math and science, Cockroft said he excels at problem solving.

His favorite teacher at AHS was Max Von Hatten, Spanish teacher and soccer coach. Cockroft said he appreciated Von Hatten’s sense of humor. He also enjoyed a close-knit school community.

“We all kind of talk to each other and get along with each other,” said Cockroft, who attended Ryan Park Elementary School, moving with his family to Steuben County in second grade.

Delgadillo was drum major for the Marching Hornets and put herself in the “nerdy” group. She also agreed that people in the Class of 2019 associated well with one another, and said she is very glad she and her mother moved to Angola from Dallas when she was in eighth grade.

She thanked band director Andrew Kaiser for his guidance.

“He is definitely the person who taught me what leadership is truly about,” Delgadillo said. “You can be a leader in your daily life.”

Delgadillo, who served as president of the Angola Mayor’s Youth Council, was named state Youth Council Member of the Year in February at the Aim Youth Leadership Summit at Indiana University-Bloomington. Last fall, she was runner-up spokeswoman of the Electric Cooperative Youth Leadership Council, a select group of students who traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of the annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour.

“I can’t wait to be challenged for all areas of life,” said Delgadillo.

Cockroft, too, is ready for college life, seguing from the comfort of a small town to the crowds of Purdue.

“I’m looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone, meeting new people, having new experiences.” But, at the same time, he said he will be able to rely on lifetime friendships.

“We’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime and nothing will take it away from us,” he said. One advantage of social media is it will allow class members to stay close wherever they are.

Cockroft and Delgadillo both said they think the future is bright if today’s teens take the reins in a positive way.

“I think there is hope,” said Cockroft. He said a positive outlook is important, and that just one person leading by example can make all the difference.

It is the same with protecting the environment. Delgadillo said there could be a shift when people realize “the danger they are putting themselves in and the danger they are putting the future in” and begin to make changes to protect themselves. “With that change comes a brighter future,” she said.

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