Congratulations Class of 2023!

Congratulations Class of 2023!

 Sasha Bush

 Ashland Beacon

Graduation day is easily one of life’s most important and eagerly anticipated moments in our lives.  It’s more than just a ceremony and goes well beyond putting that cap and gown on, hearing your name called, making that walk across the stage and being handed that diploma with your name on it. Graduation day is a celebration of the ending of one chapter of one’s life and the beginning of another. Graduation is often referred to as the “commencement ceremony.” When we think of commencement, we often think of the ending of something. However, the word commencement means the beginning. So, graduation day is of course a day to celebrate all that you have accomplished these past thirteen years, but the real purpose is to celebrate and mark your transitioning from the child you began this journey as thirteen years ago to the adult you are today and the journey you are about to embark upon.


Thirteen years have come and gone. Thirteen years of so many firsts—your first day of school, dance, sport, love, heartbreak, driving a car, job, prom and so many other “firsts” that it would be impossible to list them all. For thirteen years, you have been taught the scholarly things needed to take you into your next chapters of life. You have experienced the ups and downs of childhood and becoming a teenager. For thirteen years, you have been told what to do, when it’s due and how you should go about doing it.  You have experienced life as a child and taken in all that goes with it, which has shaped you into the person you are today. Thirteen years ago, it was you who was crying in that classroom as Mom and Dad left you in that strange place for the first time. Today, it’s Mom and Dad crying because you’re all grown up and ready to face life in a whole new way… as an adult building a life on his/her own, one decision at a time.

Everything that led up to this moment wasn’t about getting that piece of paper with your name on it or tossing that cap high in the air. It goes well beyond that. Today is about you and all your hard work that you have done to reach this point. It wasn’t easy, and at times I’m sure you felt like you were failing…but you didn’t.  Today is about the celebration of you finding out exactly who you are, which is no easy feat, and you will continue to learn new things about yourself every day.  Today is about spreading your wings and taking flight.  You already know how to fly. You’ve spent the last thirteen years being taught how. But, today is a time to fly solo and see where the wind takes you.

This journey we call life is many things. It can be both exhilarating and stressful. Life shares many resemblances with the wind. The wind is a strong force and can change direction at any time. It can be calm one minute and quite violent the next, throwing us into an entirely different direction than we intended to take… much like life. So, today when you step off that stage as a graduate… spread your wings… take flight… remember all that you have learned, all that you have experienced and hold you head up high. Spread your wings, and let the wind pick you up and sail you into your next chapter of life. Congratulations to all of you who have accomplished so much in such a short period of time. Now, go out into the world and leave it a better place than you found it. Take what you have been taught and make it your own. Never be afraid to fly solo because those who fly solo have the strongest wings. Never be afraid to be that “solo flying hat.”

16th Region Tennis Finals Held Wednesday

16th Region Tennis Finals Held Wednesday

Sasha Bush

The Ashland Beacon

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            On Wednesday, May 17, 2023, the Ashland Tennis Center hosted the Regional High School Tennis Championships. As multitudes of young talented tennis players made their way to this familiar place, they all shared a common goal… to represent their school with dignity and grace and to take home the title of regional champions.

            While every young man and young lady who took to the courts that day showed up to compete and put on quite an impressive display of sportsmanship, only a few would walk away with the honor of being named regional champion. In singles competition, the courts were hot as Ashland’s Abby Meek dominated Rose Hill’s Laken Deerfield within the first two sets with a score of 6-0 in both. This made Meek’s third consecutive regional championship title.

Ashland Blazer’s Alden Johnson also took home his third consecutive regional championship title in his singles competition against Rowan County’s Chris Gray. After besting his Rowan County opponent in the first set with a score of 6-0, Johnson took the win for second set as well with a score of 6-1 making him the 2023 High School Boys Regional Champion for singles and holding on to his Regional title for the third year in a row.


             Johnson and Meek weren’t the only ones to walk away with a win Wednesday evening. In the girls doubles competition, Rose Hill’s Isabel Hensley and Abigail Justus carefully calculated every serve, stroke and set against Russell’s Bella Quinn and Ava O’Neal who did not go down without a fight. Hensley and Justus defeated their Russell opponents in just two sets. The first set was 6-4, and the second set was 7-6 with a tiebreaker of 7-5. This made the third consecutive year that Rose Hill had retained this title.

In the boys doubles competition, it was Russell’s Gunner Cassity and Max Newman who walked away with the crown. This dynamic duo’s win came after an all-out battle with Boyd County’s Ethan Parsons and Dylan Amos, who both put up fight. Cassity and Newman took the first set with a score of 6-1, but it was Boyd County’s Parsons and Amos who took the second set with a score of 6-2. After an edge of your seat tiebreaker, Cassity and Newman took the win with a final score of 10-7.

            The 2023 Sportsmanship Awards went to Russell’s Ava O’Neal and Rose Hill’s Benton Rucker.  Ashland’s Abby Meek and Boyd County’s Ethan Parsons were both presented with the $1000 Julie Ditty Qualls Scholarship by the GATA. The overall team results are as follows:

GIRLS: 1st Place- Ashland Blazer, 2nd Place- Russell, and 3rd Place- Rose Hill

BOYS: 1st Place- Russell, 2nd Place- Ashland Blazer, and 3rd Place- Rowan County.
A special thanks goes out to Coach Eddie Sizemore who directed the regional tournament, Ashland Tennis Center Manager Jerry Groce, Tennis Association members, and of course all the dedicated coaches, players, and parents. Congratulations to everyone, and good luck in Lexington at the Kentucky State High School Tennis Championships.

Nothing But Net YMCA Brings New Basketball League to the Area

Nothing But Net

YMCA Brings New Basketball League to the Area

 Sasha Bush

 The Ashland Beacon

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            When most people think of the YMCA they typically think “oh it’s just a gym.” But, the Ashland Area YMCA is so much more than just a “gym.” Of course, you will find state of the art gym equipment, personal trainers, fitness classes, health centers, a pool, and everything that one typically associates with a gym. What many people don’t realize is that your local Ashland Area YMCA plays a pivotal role in our community. The YMCA’s staff is always thinking up new ways to give kids in our community something to do from youth rallies, block parties, sports training, and summer camps.


            One of the Ashland Area YMCA’s most recent additions will be a youth basketball co-ed league. This will be a first for the YMCA and is the brainchild of Scott Campbell, Executive Director of the Ashland Area YMCA, and Max Hunter, Coach and Basketball Trainer. Campbell shared, “You know basketball has always been a passion of mine and is actually what made me fall in love with the YMCA when I was just a young boy. So, it’s always been a dream of mine to build a basketball program.”

            The youth basketball co-ed league will be a six-week program that takes place every Sunday afternoon beginning June 25th through July 30th.  Each game will consist of two twenty-minute halves with a running clock and will take place in the adult gym. Every player will receive a free YMCA league t-shirt. Registration is open to any child who falls within the following grade levels: 3rd-4th grade, 5th- 6th grade, and 7th-8th grade. Signups are currently going on and the deadline for registration will be June 6, 2023. The cost is $35 for members and $55 for non-members. Just stop by the Ashland Area YMCA’s front desk to sign up.

            The Ashland Area YMCA also offers basketball lessons throughout the year with one of their highly qualified basketball coaches/trainers. The cost for private lessons is $30 for a sixty-minute lesson, $20 for a thirty-minute lesson, or you can purchase a ten-session package for just $285. They also offer a group session rate for $20 per person. You can schedule a lesson by texting or calling one of the Y’s basketball trainers: Darnell Lisath at 606.923.0336 or Max Hunter at 606.922.9884.

In addition to offering private lessons and this new basketball league, the Ashland Area YMCA will also be offering several youth basketball camps that will take place throughout the summer. The first camp will take place June 19th through the 21st with Max Hunter. This camp will be for anyone in 1st through 8th grade.  After graduating high school, Hunter walked on to Morehead State University basketball team and later transferred to Union College where he played for three years and obtained a bachelor’s degree. Hunter then went on to play two years of basketball in Australia.   

“We offer lessons to kids of all ages and skill levels, from the basics to kids who already have the fundamentals down. We just work with them to improve their game, build confidence, push them to get past being uncomfortable and just learn to push themselves past that,” stated Hunter. Registration forms can be found at the front desk. This camp will help to improve your basketball skills and take your game to the next level. The cost of this camp is $80 for members and $100 for non-members.

The second camp will take place July 17th through the 21st and will be open to 8th through 12th grade with the Clarence Thompson aka “Mad Bomber” as your coach/trainer. The cost of this camp will be $150 for members and $170 for non-members. Registration forms can be found at the Ashland Area YMCA’s front desk.

Understanding Autism Raising Awareness to Help Others

Understanding Autism

Raising Awareness to Help Others

Sasha Bush

The Ashland Beacon

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            Autism, or Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated one in every thirty-six children in the United States alone. Signs of autism typically appear by age two or three, while some associated developmental delays can appear as early as 18 months of age. While the range of symptoms can vary, the most common symptoms of autism include difficulty communicating with others, becoming overwhelmed/stressed when out in social situations, and developing obsessive interest and repetitive behaviors.


            One young mother has made it her mission to help raise awareness about autism and set the record straight on how people view those with autism. Paula Profit, an Ashland resident, knows more about autism than most. Her son Aiden was diagnosed at a very young age when she noticed that something just wasn’t right with her beautiful baby boy. “Around 18 months, I noticed something just wasn’t right. Toys with lights, sounds and motion never kept his attention. He lacked the imaginative play others his age displayed. He was always fussy and never content. Going places was almost impossible. A simple trip to the grocery store turned into a disaster where I would have to leave a full buggy of groceries behind. Everywhere we went was a struggle,” shared Profit.

            As time went on, Profit noticed other signs that something just wasn’t right with her son. “He was delayed in almost all of his milestones, severely hyperactive, impulsive, and developed major sleep issues before the age of three,” noted Profit. It was at the age of three that things began to accelerate, and Aiden’s list of issues continued to grow. “He had his first seizure at the age of three which eventually led to the diagnosis of epilepsy,” Profit shared.

            By the age of five, Aiden had developed severe anxiety which led to many gastrointestinal issues. “His anxiety would change from minute to minute. One minute he would go from being in an extreme state of fear and anxiety, and the next he was fine.” Profit went on to add, “By the time Aiden had started school, his teachers and I began to notice that he had daily behavioral issues, and it was clear there was something more than just severe ADHD and ODD.”

            Profit wasted no time trying to get help for her son. At the age of five, Aiden was officially diagnosed with autism at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where they later linked his epilepsy to him having autism. Of course, this is news that no parent would ever want to hear about their child, but Profit finally had answers. “At first, I felt like his life was over. The hopes and dreams I had for my child had vanished. I remember asking God “Why my son? Why us? Did I do something wrong during my pregnancy? Is it my fault? I didn’t know the first thing about autism. I had the misconception others have. “He doesn’t look autistic”. I went through the normal phases parents go through--grief, denial, anger, depression, worry, defeat.” shared Profit. After the diagnosis set in, I dove headfirst into educating myself on how I could better help my son,” shared Profit.

            With her son’s diagnosis, Profit made the difficult decision to give up her career and become a stay-at-home mom so that she would be able to care for Aiden’s every need. “Aiden was placed on the Michele P. Waiver program, which is a home and community-based waiver program thru Kentucky Medicaid. The program is designed to provide an alternative to institutional care, where individuals with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities can live at home with supportive services. With as many appointments as he had weekly, there was just no way I could work and give him the care that he needed,” declared Profit.

            Because Profit’s dedication and determination to her son and his well-being were unwavering, young Aiden has flourished over the years. Aiden… now 15 years old, is currently a freshman at Paul G. Blazer High School. His mother shared that Aiden enjoys playing video games, supporting the Tomcats, and playing baseball in the Challenger League. Aiden shared with us that his favorite thing about high school is lunch and gym class. Unlike most teens his age, Aiden doesn’t look forward to summer breaks. “Our days are very structured and routine. Summers are a tough transitional period for him; he would much rather be in school with a consistent routine than be out for the summer,” noted Profit.

However, this summer is the summer that both Aiden and his mother have looked forward to since early 2020. Over the summer, Aiden will finally get to meet and receive his long-awaited service dog.  This process has been three years in the making. In 2020, the family’s beloved pets of 15 years succumbed to old age and naturally, the family took it very hard. It was after the loss of their beloved fur babies that Profit decided to look into getting her son a professionally trained service dog. Profit had previously done some research on it a few years prior but ended up leaving the thought on the back burner. Profit stated, “Aiden’s service dog will be able to go everywhere he goes including school. Everywhere we go poses challenges. Our lives will drastically change when he gets his service dog. We haven’t been to church since 2019 due to Aiden’s anxiety and behavioral struggles. This is something we both have a yearning for. Having a beloved companion by his side will help bridge the gap in social settings. Instead of being viewed as the kid with “problems,” he will be seen as the amazing individual he is with a furry best friend by his side helping him navigate thru life.”

The average wait time to obtain a service dog from a reputable training facility is between two to five years. In order to obtain one, the family must go through an extensive fundraising period as well as many classes. “Aiden is eagerly awaiting to receive his match letter on June 21. That is when we find out his dog’s name, gender, and breed.” shared Profit. Once matched, Profit and her son must travel to Xenia, Ohio where Aiden will meet his service dog for the first time, and the three of them will take part in an extensive nine-day training course.

To help offset the cost of travel expenses, food, and lodging while in Xenia, Ohio, Profit has begun a t-shirt fundraiser that she has lovingly named “Paws for Cause.” The cost of each t-shirt is $18, with $5 from every shirt sale going to the family. If you would like to purchase a shirt, you can do so by contacting Trophy House at 606.324.2661 or visiting them in store at 2007 Central Avenue. With every shirt purchased, you are not only helping this family, but you are helping to spread awareness about this all too often misunderstood disorder.

            While there is currently no cure for autism, and it is not something that one can just outgrow… Aiden is living proof that with proper support and understanding, you can live a perfectly normal life. Profit had one final thought to share, “I’ve always been an open book when it comes to our autism journey. My hope is that by sharing so much about our journey that I am able to help others who may be following along in our footsteps. Autism has no cure and looks different for everyone. There is no face of autism. When someone says he doesn’t look autistic, I often wonder what they see as the face of autism.”

Love Can Build a Roof: Singin’ in the Wood to Benefit Church Roof Repair

Love Can Build a Roof: Singin’ in the Wood to Benefit Church Roof Repair

Gary Newman

Ashland Beacon

CHURCH OF GOD of Raceland


One of the truly amazing characteristics of our community is how people come together when there’s a need.  By the time the largely elderly congregation from the Church of God in Raceland realized there were multiple damaged areas to the roof of their building on Crump Street that had most likely begun during the ice storm and deteriorated from there, too much time had passed for the insurance company to cover the damages.  As devastating as that news must’ve been, hope lingers on the horizon as a benefit set to raise funds to help the church restore their building gives Boyd and Greenup Countians a chance to show off the ‘coming together’ spirit that so frequently reveals itself in our community. 


Saturday, May 6th, ‘Singin’ in the Wood’ will take place at Westwood Lions Club Park in Westwood and will feature a full line-up of performers, vendor booths, a petting zoo, a silent auction supplied by donations, Italian ice, and food available for sale.  All the proceeds will benefit the church in need, and there will be something going on from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.  The singing will be courtesy of a full lineup of Christian and gospel singers and groups including: Stephen Kouns, Fred Spencer, The Singing Servants, Called, the Uplifters, Sonya Newman, The Shope Family Legacy, and Jerry Moore. 

The origin of this event started at a family dinner where brainstorming to raise funds to help the church bounced from idea to idea, and Austin Robinson suggested the idea of a benefit. “We’re hoping to raise enough money to at least fix the roof to prevent further cosmetic damages to the inside. Everything cosmetic can wait.  If we raise enough to do both, then it was the Lord’s will,” Carissa Johnson, the event coordinator stated, “We’ve just pieced it together as we go along.”  She explained that Austin and Ashley Shope recommended the Westwood Lions Club Park.   “This event is supporting a great cause,” Johnson continued, “We will have awesome food prepared by amazing cooks!  100% of the proceeds are going directly to the church. We hope people will stop by and listen to some of the music and enjoy the fellowship with us if anything!”

Johnson thanks Austin & Ashley, Lee Ann Johnson, & Travis Thompson for their contributions, and particularly Brandon Steele for loaning a trailer for the stage.  The biggest thing is the community coming together to assist this church in need.   “There’s going to be a silent auction and food and drinks for sale,” Carissa encouraged, “I’m going to be posting a Venmo/Cashapp QR Code that’s going to accept donations on the day of the event.”

What a great opportunity for our community to once again come together as only we can, and lend a hand to a church in need.  Show up, hear some tunes, grab a bite, bring a friend, and keep our neighbors at Church of God in Raceland and their Pastor James Ison in your prayers.