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Active in track and choir, the senior will graduate at the top of her class from the Newberg school

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Chloe Wassei plans to join the Air Force ROTC program when she attends Cedarville University in Ohio next fall.

In a graduating class of five at Veritas School, Chloe Wassei stands at the academic mountaintop as the 2019 valedictorian. Her achievements in the classroom, on the track and in the school's choir stand out as she prepares for the next chapter in her life.

"It's really neat," Wassei said of being named valedictorian. "It's never something I thought I'd end up doing. I always focused on academics and have been a hard worker, but I never expected it. I'm really honored."

In addition to participating in the choir and running for the Veritas track and cross country teams, Wassei volunteers at a local hospital as part of her senior project. It helps prepare her for a future career, too.

Wassei wants to be a nurse in the Air Force. She plans to join the Air Force ROTC at Cedarville University in Ohio next year.

The upbeat Newberg teen said a move across the country is happening because of the prestigious nursing program at Cedarville, along with ROTC opportunities. She toured the campus in the small town east of Dayton with her family and instantly knew it was the right place for her.

"It's a private, Christian university, which is an important thing for me," Wassei said. "Their ROTC program is great as well. Growing up, I never really had this image in my mind of being in the military, but my brother is in the Coast Guard and he loves it. The ROTC is great for leadership skills and a great way to pay for college."

Wassei's Christian faith plays a key role in her life and she said her older brother's journey with sharing the gospel has been influential on her as well. Another area where she finds strong community is in the choir at Veritas, which allowed her to develop camaraderie with many of her classmates.

Wassei laughed when admitting that, at times, she and her choir cohorts would burst into song in the most random places. She said the trips they took as a group created lasting memories.

"For choir, we have trips where we go to different places and sing," she said. "Last year, we went to Hawaii, which was really cool, and there are so many fun memories on those choir trips. We had a chance to explore eastern Oregon recently as well."

Wassei was among the pioneering members of the Veritas track program and participated in distance events in addition to her role on the cross-country squad. Her mother is a physical education teacher at Veritas for some of the younger kids, and Wassei made sure to note the positive influence her mother has on her.

"I really look up to her," Wassei said. "It's so nice to be able to see her every day around school, and I'm going to miss that. She's amazing and is really good with kids, is strong and is able to persevere through difficult times."

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