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Bremerton teen wins Ambassador’s honor

Katelynn Lorber, middle, was awarded top prize in the Armed Forces Day Festival Ambassadors program Wednesday night. Jared Tonge, of Seabeck (left) placed second, Port Orchard’s Emerald Armstrong (right) placed fourth and Chelsey Wheeler of Bremerton placed third.   - Photo by James Mange
Katelynn Lorber, middle, was awarded top prize in the Armed Forces Day Festival Ambassadors program Wednesday night. Jared Tonge, of Seabeck (left) placed second, Port Orchard’s Emerald Armstrong (right) placed fourth and Chelsey Wheeler of Bremerton placed third.
— image credit: Photo by James Mange

Katelynn Lorber was smooth and polished while delivering her speech at the Armed Forces Festival Ambassadors Program, Wednesday, at the Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport. She relayed the experiences of a veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan during her speech, emphasizing the horror of war isn’t the loss of American lives or the loss of Afghan lives, but that anyone should have to lose a life in that manner.

“I want to be involved in telling the community that everyone matters,” Lorber said. “One person can make a difference.”

Lorber won the judges vote as the top Ambassador, and will receive a $1,500 scholarship. Lorber also won the award for having the best essay on the topic “What Freedom Means to Me,” and took home an additional $100 for that effort. Lorber is a Bremerton High student, and attends Olympic College as a Running Start student. She is an Olympic College Dean’s scholar.

Jared Tonge of Seabeck was the second Ambassador. Tonge told of his interview with a veteran who spoke of the military as a “band of brothers,” and who also encouraged him to actively go after the things he wants in his life. Tonge was awarded a $700 scholarship. He attends Klahowya Secondary School, where he is a member of the National Honor Society, the award-winning marching band, and the track and field team.

Chelsey Wheeler of Bremerton took the $500 third prize, and her speech highlighted the life of a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Medal of Honor winner from WWII. He views his honors as a symbol of service. Everyone’s service. “The real heroes are the ones who didn’t come home,” Wheeler repeated. Wheeler also won an extra $100 award for having the largest supporting entourage in the audience. Wheeler goes to Bremerton High School where she is the president of the National Honor Society and the captain of the swim team. Wheeler was honored on Tuesday as a Woman of Achievement by the YMCA, one of many places she volunteers.

Port Orchard’s Emerald Armstrong rounded out the winning group, taking a $300 scholarship as the fourth Ambassador. Her speech hit on the career opportunities in the military. Armstrong is an Honor student, a member of the school band, the swimming team, and is captain of the tennis team.

Among other duties, the quartet will be featured in the Armed Forces Day Festival parade in Bremerton, at 10 a.m. May 19.

The other finalists in the program, sponsored by Puget Sound Energy, will also receive $100 scholarship awards. They included Bremerton residents Jonathon Burton, Tiffany Lehoux, and Jessica Mathisen. Burton spoke of the need to support our troops and honor our veterans. Lehoux recounted the exploits of a WWII medic who refused to carry a gun and went above and beyond the call of duty many times. Burton and Lehoux both attend Bremerton High School. Mathisen, a King’s West senior told the tale of an Iraqi woman who found love and a new life with an American GI.

Sarah Dawson and Robert Orzalli, both of Seabeck rounded out the field of finalists. Dawson, a Klahowya student, talked about the rough road to freedom in America faced by a Burmese refugee, while Orzalli told of a native Indonesian who was interned in a Japanese concentration camp and eventually made her way to America.

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