LANCASTER — The Antelope Valley Press welcomed and congratulated its 2019 Future Leaders at an award ceremony Wednesday night in the Grand Ballroom of the University of Antelope Valley.
More than one hundred guests including young leaders and their family and friends filled the dining room tables mingling and high-fiving each other for a job well done.
The special section in the Valley Press started in 2001 to showcase the most ambitious young people in local schools. The 2019 honorees come from diverse backgrounds and have various interests that include sports, academics and community service.
The 35 students represent 15 high schools in the Antelope Valley and were selected out of a pool of 100 nominees. These students were nominated by coaches, counselors, parents, pastors, teachers and others who are familiar with their commitment to service and goals after high school, as well as their work ethic.
The selection process looks at the entire individual: who they are, how they compare in a highly competitive society, their academic and professional goals, what they have already and what they hope to accomplish.
Now in its 19th year, the Future Leaders special section was created to accentuate the positive and celebrate the uplifting truth that the Antelope Valley is populated by legions of young people who are traveling on the road of hope for the future.
“Many times the media gets criticized for reporting on the negative things,” Valley Press Publisher Mike McMullin said. “Future Leaders is one of the most positive stories we can present to the public.”
At the ceremony, McMullin started with introductions thanking the sponsors of the event— AV Graphix, University of Antelope Valley and Go!DJ Entertainment for providing printed materials, venue, catering and music.
He also recognized the several dignitaries who showed their support and provided the awards for the evening which included the city of Lancaster, the city of Palmdale and representatives for Congresswoman Katie Hill, Assemblyman Tom Lackey, state Sen. Scott Wilk and Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
Sandra Johnson, University of Antelope Valley co-founder, gifted a $500 scholarship to the university to each honored student along with their certificate of recognition.
“We’re all about the community here,” she said. “We want to give back and encourage the students to gift them to someone they know if they already have the privilege of attending school elsewhere.”
Thanks to the university culinary students, a pasta dinner was served — a first for the event. In previous years, it was a dessert banquet.
Glenna McKie, field representative for Assemblyman Tom Lackey, has come to the Future Leaders awards ceremony many times in the past.
“This year’s event seemed so nice with dinner being served,” she said.
When asked why the Valley Press should continue on with this special section in recognizing future leaders, McKie replied: “This should be done for the purpose of giving students hope to be better and achieve greater. The youth of today need to know they can be and do anything they set their minds to. It’s about giving them the initiative to do better and be given help that will ultimately help them as young leaders.”
Highland High School senior George Aguilar said being named a Future Leader was something he felt accomplished about, as if all his hard work was finally being recognized.
“I feel really proud,” Aguilar said. “This is a lovely event and very professional; it sets the scene for my future.”
Palmdale High School junior Kimberly Abadillo said she was surprised, shocked and happy when she found out she was a Future Leader. Her parents, Ada Montenegro and Oscar Abadillo, said they were proud she got selected and that the whole ceremony was beautiful.
Antelope Valley High senior Joseph Ramirez gave his thanks to the Valley Press and all the dignitaries for recognizing him and his fellow students.
His dad, Rick Ramirez said he was proud of his son’s accomplishments.
“This has been a journey for him,” he said. “He’s turning out to be a very responsible young man with a great future ahead of him.”
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