July 21, 2024

Nonprofit news: Rotary Club of Ashland names Students of the Month

James Dyson, left, and Simone Starbird are the Rotary Club of Ashland's Students of the Month for September and October.
October 30, 2023

James Dyson chosen for September, Simone Starbird for October

The Rotary Club of Ashland

The Rotary Club of Ashland is pleased to announce our Students of the Month for September and October, James Dyson and Simone Starbird.

September Student of the Month

The September honoree is James Dyson, a senior at AHS.

“I love living in Ashland,” said Dyson. “We moved here when I was 7, and I have been involved in music in the school district and community ever since. I play in the high school wind ensemble and chamber orchestra as well as the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon, Rogue Valley Symphonic Band, Southern Oregon University Wind Ensemble and Ashland City Band. I recently won the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon concerto competition, and I am very much looking forward to performing with the symphony in the spring. I started piano when I was just 5 years old, and I picked up bassoon and bass in middle school. I plan to study music performance on bassoon, but I will continue to play piano and bass. Sometimes, you might see me busking at the Growers and Crafters Market with Lucas Bower, a wonderful cellist and great friend of mine. The money we earn goes back to support student scholarships for music lessons.

“Outside of music, I am on the math team and compete yearly in the academic Scavenger Hunt. I want to give a special thanks to Rotary for supporting Oregon Battle of the Books. I have competed in OBOB every year since fourth grade, been to the state championship five times, and was even part of the state championship winning team in middle school. COVID got in the way for a few years after that, but we hope to have an AHS team back at States this year. As it’s my last year of high school, we’re going for the win!”

October Student of the Month

The October honoree is Simone Starbird, also an Ashland High School Senior, who says: “ I consider education to be one of the most valuable parts of my life and wholeheartedly believe that learning changes people and the world. I am so grateful for AHS and the classes and teachers I’ve had that care about my success.  In particular, Advanced Placement U.S. History with Mr. Huard and Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics with Mr. Bolling, because they taught me knowledge I use to this day.”

Starbird continues, “The passion that has arisen most for me during the last four years is one of journalism. I joined Truth to Power club as a freshman and am now co-president, and through the club have produced a live radio segment on KSKQ community radio, a podcast segment on Jefferson Public Radio, and other independent podcasts on issues such as gun violence, anti-racism, and women’s rights.  I am also an editor for AHS’s student-run newspaper, The Rogue News, where I mentor younger journalists, and write articles about local events that the staff and I find important.

“Community Service is also an important part of my life.  Through AHS, I have been part of supply drives, book drives, Almeda Fire victim support, and more. If you’ve seen the Black, Indigenous, and people of color celebration mural on South Mountain Avenue, that was the work of me and my fellow Truth to Power club members.

“Looking forward, I plan to attend a four-year university. I am unsure of exactly what I want to major in, but I will always want to keep social justice and journalism prominent in my life, whether that’s through a degree or participation in my school’s newspaper or university radio station.  It’s important to me to continue making a difference wherever I go.”

The Rotary Club of Ashland meets at noon Thursdays in Wesley Hall at the First United Methodist Church, 175 N. Main St., Ashland. For more information, go to welcomes submissions from local nonprofits. Articles of 300-700 words may be emailed to Please attach a photo or two (say who took the photos when and where), and include your name and contact information.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Email him at

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