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Future National Guard soldier hopes to wear Almond Blossom crown
Kimberly Stegner

RIPON – Kimberly Stegner knows exactly what she wants to do when she graduates from Ripon High in the spring.
In fact, she’s already doing it.

Stegner – a candidate for the 2009 Almond Blossom Queen competition – has already committed to a term in the United States Army National Guard, and is currently active in the Recruitment Sustainment Program as a precursor to the Basic Combat Training she’ll attend after she receives her diploma.

While being involved with the Almond Queen competition was somewhat of a spur of the moment decision for the JROTC cadet who was informed about it last year from her step-father, but is something she says she’s looking forward to doing.

“I think that it will give me a chance to find out a lot about myself and to better myself, and that’s important to me,” Stegner said. “I’m looking forward to everything – it seems like it will be fun.”

And Stegner  – the daughter of Vincent and Athena Engel – has a definite goal for her military service.

With ambitions to become an officer, she also hopes to attain her teaching credential and become a special needs teacher.

Stegner says she enjoys reading and writing when she isn’t involved with schoolwork or JROTC activities, and also likes playing sports and watching football.

When it comes to the Almond Blossom Festival and what it means to her, Stegner is quick to answer.

“I like the fact that it’s the gathering of the community,” she said. “Everyone gets together in one place to celebrate – it’s unique and it’s fun.”

Other candidates this year are:  Kate Ballatore, daughter of Mike & Kelly Ballatore, Kamie Goforth, daughter of David Goforth and Kristie Watts, Courtney Bryanne Netjes, daughter of Mark & LaDonna Netjes, Alexsandra  Patricia Marie Peralta, daughter of Ron & Janine Van Groningen, Michelle Amrbose daughter of Ray and Betty Ambrose, Kimberly Jeane Stegner, daughter of Vincent & Athena Engel, and Camila Sweaney, daughter of Russell & Debra Sweaney.

The Almond Blossom Festival is the last weekend in February.

The Ripon Chamber of Commerce is holding their 47th Annual Almond Blossom Kick Off and Tribute Dinner on Thursday, Jan. 15, at the Ripon Community Center, 334 Fourth St. starting at 6 p.m.

The Chamber is honoring Soroptimist International Ripon this year.  The theme is “Serving 18 Years of Community Service”, and the grand marshal is Judy Tvedt.