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TC salutatorian excited for new challenges, new experiences at Purdue

As the salutatorian for the Class of 2021 at Triton Central High School, Benjamin Riggins used his graduation speech to identify three common characteristics of his peers – competitors, companions and clowns.


“For competitors, I talked about all of our sectional, conference and county championships won and how our class always competes to win,” he said.


Riggins played both football and baseball at Triton Central.


“For companions, I talked about how we all stick together as friends … formed bonds and friendships that will ultimately lead us to success down the road,” he said.


Riggins will study Chemical Engineering at Purdue University, and while not knowing his roommate, he is comfortable knowing he has fellow Tigers also headed to West Lafayette.


“For clowns, I talked about how we always liked to have a good time,” he said. “It was the class clowns and the jokes that made high school the most memorable and fun.”


The son of David and Jennifer Riggins also was involved in Robotics, Archery, Student Council and National Honor Society at Triton Central.


Three times he helped build a robot that qualified for the state finals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.


Nothing, in his mind though, will top being on the football field when the Tigers won the program’s first regional football title in 2019.


“Winning that first regional title was awesome,” said Riggins, who played safety and wide receiver. “It was a Saturday game day and there were tons of people there. It was the most people I’ve ever seen at Triton Central’s football stadium.


“When we won it, it was a feeling like no other. It felt amazing because everyone was cheering for you and it was something no one else had ever accomplished. It’s an experience I will always remember for the rest of my life.”


Months later Riggins and the rest of the TC student body was sent home to start virtual learning.


“From an academic standpoint, it was fun the first few weeks because we got a break from school,” he recalled. “Then we had to come back and do everything virtual. We had done e-Learning days for snow days but those were one day at time. It wasn’t a six-week stretch.


“It was really weird trying to do all our classes online. It just wasn’t the same. We didn’t get the full experience.”


Riggins is excited for starting at Purdue which is expecting students on campus and in the classroom.


“Purdue said they will be in person and want all students to get vaccinated but they are not requiring it at this point,” he said. “Hopefully, when we get to the fall things will be more normal. I’m really looking forward to it. Purdue seems to be doing all it can to make it a regular college experience.”


Until then, Riggins is working this summer as a lifeguard at the Meridian Park Family Aquatic Center in Shelbyville and marking off the calendar days when he will be a freshman all over again.


“That is definitely something that will take getting used to,” he said with a smile. “We’ve been top dogs at Triton Central but it will definitely be a fun experience going to college.


“There are a lot of things I haven’t been able to experience at a small school like Triton Central. At a big school like Purdue, it will allow me to experience lots of new opportunities and meet people from different backgrounds.”