Armed Forces Festival Ambassadors compete for top spot

Nine finalists from throughout Kitsap County will participate in the 2007 Puget Sound Energy Armed Forces Festival Ambassadors Program 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 25, at the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport.

The students were selected based on academics, extra-curricular activities, community involvement, letters of recommendation and an essay entitled “What Freedom Means to Me.”

Masters of Ceremonies are Capt. Jonathan Dowell, commanding officer of NUWC division Keyport, and comedian and Armed Forces chairman Cris Larsen.

This is the students’ last judged event. Finalists will do a presentation based on an interview with either a military veteran or a foreign-born national who has chosen to become an American citizen. Finalists also will answer impromptu questions. Students were previously evaluated on their essays and personal interviews with a panel of judges.

Scholarships range from $100 to $1,500.

A $100 cash award will be given for the best essay. The person who sold the most event tickets also will receive $100.

The 2007 finalists

Emerald Armstrong, the daughter of Cathy and Ed Armstrong, relocated from West Virginia to Port Orchard two years ago. She attends South Kitsap High School. Armstrong has been active in concerts, marching and jazz bands, Interact and Key Clubs, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, school musicals and youth groups. She is a member of the National Honor Society, on the varsity swim team and is captain of South Kitsap’s tennis team. Armstrong was selected to lead worship for West Virginia’s state youth and is involved with the Spirit Diversity Group (mediator). She has been recognized as the Rotary Student of the Month. She also participated in the all-county honor band, all-state honor band and all-Northwest orchestra honor group. She is sponsored by Strategy Real Estate.

Jonathon Burton, the son of Deborah and James Burton, lives in Bremerton and attends Olympic High School. Burton has been active with the Boy Scouts of America, earning the rank of Eagle Scout. He is founder and president of the table tennis club and during his tenure he raised $1,000 for the club. He is a charter member of OHS’s writer’s club. He has taken Japanese for five years, is an active member of the Japan club and is taking Advanced Placement Japanese along with other AP classes. Burton is a published author and recently had an essay included in a book. He also assists with his mother’s business, Baskets Unique, and Dynamic Video Creations. He is sponsored by Federal Managers Association.

Sarah Thai Dawson, the daughter of Laurie and Peter Dawson, lives in Seabeck and attends Klahowya Secondary School. She is on the varsity soccer and track teams. She is a member of the National Honor Society and serves as a teen mentor. Dawson participates in Young Life and is a Fellowship of Christian Athletes member. She also has volunteered on the Thai/Burma border in refugee camps and orphanages. She was recognized as the athlete of the month and scholar athlete. She was Klahowya’s soccer MVP in 2006 and Chiang Mai International School’s soccer MPV in 2005. She earned the Academic Achievement in History and the Presidential award for Academic Excellence. She is employed by the Seabeck Christian Conference Center. Her sponsor is Countrywide Home Loans.

Tiffany Lehoux, the daughter of Theresa and Lloyd Young, lives in Bremerton and attends Olympic High School. She has participated in drama club and received an award for her work with Kids Night Out. She has been active with Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) and earned a SAVE award her sophomore year. Lehoux is on the honor roll and was recognized with high academic achievement in business. She assists friends and neighbors by taking care of their home and animals when they are out of town and also helps when they are in need of companionship. Lehoux is employed by Subway. Her sponsor is Kitsap Bank.

Katelynn Lorber, the daughter of Becky Lorber, lives in Bremerton and attends Bremerton High School and Olympic College as a Running Start student. She is an Olympic College dean’s scholar, a Phi Theta Kapa member and a member of the National Honor Society. She has earned awards in honors English, comparative global studies, French, named the “Most Dedicated Student” and received the president’s education award. Lorber participated in the People to People Program as an international student ambassador. She performed in theatrical productions and volunteers for Bremerton Community Theatre. She also has taught swimming and water safety to children. Lorber was the assistant director of a youth theater camp and assisted at Camp Sparky. She is sponsored by EHT Enterprises.

Jessica Mathisen, the daughter of Cindy and Matt Mathisen, lives in Bremerton and attends King’s West School. She has been a varsity soccer player for four years, serving as team captain her senior year. She has served in student government for four years including as senior class president. Mathisen is a member of the National Honor Society and plays on the varsity basketball and fast pitch teams. She has earned awards for Christian character in soccer in 2004 and 2006, most inspirational for fastpitch in 2004 and the coaches’ award for soccer in 2003. She has volunteered with the Children of the Nations food assembly line since 2004 and has visited Ukraine on two mission trips. She is employed by The Learning Tree and is sponsored by Art Anderson Associates.

Robert Orzalli, the son of Dale and Clarke Orzalli, lives in Seabeck and attends Central Kitsap High School. He plays in several CK bands including pep, marching, jazz and concert. He also is active with CSTOCK, French club and swing club. He has participated in Knowledge Bowl with his team scoring a record score, both overall and in a single competition placing eighth in state. Orzalli has participated in mock trial and activities with Summit Avenue Presbyterian Church. He has received awards as the most outstanding junior in band, the Samsung scholarship from the American Legion and student of the month in his sophomore and junior years. Orzalli is sponsored by Kitsap Credit Union.

Jared Tonge, the son of Wendy and Carl Tonge, lives in Seabeck and attends Klahowya Secondary School. He participates in track and field events and Klahowya’s award-winning marching band. He is a member of the National Honor Society, participating in food and clothing drives. Tonge also is involved with the teen mentoring program and has earned awards including the Patrick E. Gilmore band award for outstanding contributions and was recognized as a Rotary Student of the Month. Tonge is sponsored by Navy Federal Credit Union.

Chelsey Wheeler, the daughter of Carol and Theodore Wheeler, lives in Bremerton and attends Bremerton High School. She is a swim and dive team member, serving as captain this season. She is president of the National Honor Soci-ety and is active in her church, Kitsap Hu-mane Society, YMCA, YWCA and served as co-secretary of the Festival of Arts for Children. Wheeler is in the school orchestra, the Kitsap Youth Symphony and Bremerton Symphony Youth Orchestra. She was recognized as the outstanding student for honors English, AP history, honors chemistry, math analysis, honors comparative global studies and American Sign Language. Wheeler is a lifeguard and swim instructor and gives private viola lessons. She is sponsored by Olympic Peninsula Plan Center.

The Ambassadors’ first public appearances will be at the Armed Forces Festival Luncheon at Tucker’s at Gold Mountain Golf Complex on Tuesday, May 15.

They will make appearances at other parades and functions throughout the year. For information about the program or any Armed Forces Festival activity, contact the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce at (360) 479-3579 or

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