Subscribe

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Catherine Hoffman is a budding star.

The 13-year-old middle school student has appeared in numerous plays and musicals, including the leading role of Dorothy in Yokota High School’s production of “Wizard of Oz.”

Countless hours of rehearsing and performing have paid off for Hoffman, one of two students in Pacific Air Forces to win an all-expense paid trip to the Missoula Children’s Theater performing arts camp this month.

Noah DeBonis from Misawa Air Base, Japan, also received a scholarship; the family was not available for interview.

The two-week program starts Aug. 10 in Polson, Mont., located on the south side of Flathead Lake, an hour’s drive north of Missoula, Mont.

Hoffman, the daughter of Staff Sgt. Mark Hoffman and his wife, Jeanene, said she’s excited but jittery about her upcoming adventure.

“I’ve never traveled on a plane by myself before,” she said. “Once I get to camp, I’ll probably be nervous about auditioning for the play — and nervous about getting friends and meeting people.”

Most days, Hoffman and the other campers will practice lines for a play they’ll perform the last day of camp at the 500-seat Missoula Children Theater’s auditorium in Missoula.

Her mother also signed Hoffman up for extra singing and acting lessons.

Hoffman’s mother is excited about her daughter’s opportunity.

“I think it’s cool,” Mrs. Hoffman said. “And I think she’ll love it.”

Laura Braibish, who has directed Hoffman in numerous performances at Yokota, suggested she apply to the camp, Hoffman said.

Applicants submitted a videotaped audition that included a 2-3 minute song with piano accompaniment, a 2-3 minute memorized monologue and two letters of recommendation.

Hundreds of applicants competed for 125 slots at three performing arts camp sessions, according to a PACAF news release.

“The youth had to be accepted on their own merit first,” Lee Tomlinson of PACAF’s Services Directorate, wrote in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes. “Missoula was told that PACAF would support at least two youth with scholarships. If there were more youth selected, we would consider funding those youth as well.”

Tomlinson said the scholarships paid 100 percent of costs, but the dollar amount varies by base. He did not say how much PACAF paid for each scholarship.

Hoffman’s mother said the camp itself cost between $800 and $900. Tomlinson said this is the first year PACAF offered the Missoula scholarships.

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now