Dave with the help of his former Fresno High School Band Members established a scholarship for a deserving graduating band member and senior from Fresno High School. It was named in honor of an outstanding Fresno High School band member - Michelle Ross. Yearly Dave and his students contribute money to perpetuate this award.

Contributions can be sent to: FRESNO HIGH SCHOOL/ Michelle Ross Memorial Band Scholarship/1839 N. Echo Ave/ Fresno, CA 93704


     A short biography of Michelle Kathlynn Ross-Claassen July 22, 1975-November 3, 2009            

Michelle Kathlynn Ross-Claassen was born July 22, 1975, at Ft. Polk, LA, to James W. Ross Jr. and Kathyrn E. Hill-Ross In 1986 when Michelle was she was 11 years old and in the 6th grade, living in Reno, Nevada she began playing the trumpet. From the very beginning, she could hear a song and play it. Her first music teacher was Mr. Richell. He discovered Michelle to be very gifted in music and began to nurture it. Under his direction, she played not only in the 6th-grade band but also in the middle school band. The following year she went to middle school and met Mr. Redfield the music instructor at the High School. She began playing for the high school band at that time and became the school mascot for many of their field trips until she attended high school in 1989.

Michelle moved to Fresno, CA in 1989 where she started 9th grade at Fresno High School. Michelle loved to play for Mr. Ruffner. At one point, Michelle moved to Clovis, CA for a brief period of time and played with the Clovis High School band there. In 1990 she returned to Fresno High where she could be taught by Mr. Ruffner, who helped develop her technique. It was at Fresno High School that she became the trumpet player she wanted to be and was taught by a great teacher who inspired her to become a teacher as well. 

At Fresno High School, Michelle played in the school Dixieland band -the Raisin Babies Jazz Band, as well as the school jazz and concert band. She was also selected to perform in the Fresno-Madera County Honor Band. She played in the Fresno Junior Philharmonic Orchestra during her senior year. 

Michelle attended band camp every summer and she also played in the California State Marching Band competitions. Michelle graduated from Fresno High in June of 1993.

 In 1993 she moved to Sacramento, CA where she attended Sacramento State University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 1999 and earned her California teaching credential in 2000. During this time she took one year to study abroad at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in Kingston, London England.  In one year she earned the England Licentiate (Pre-doctorate degree) in 1997. She was also one of 20 Students that was chosen to play for Queen Elizabeth of London.

After graduating from Sacramento State she moved to Boston MA and attended The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA to achieve her Master's Degree in 2003.  She also earned her Massachusetts teaching credential and taught there for 6 years. Michelle was also an active member of the Bay Shore Community Band that raised money for scholarships for high school band members going on to college.

Teaching became her life.  Since moving back to Fresno on July 20th, 2009 she began working for Fresno Unified as a teacher for Yosemite Middle school, Powers-Ginsburg, and Williams elementary schools. Michelle’s motivation to send music students to college inspired her to start the FHS Warrior Community Band which consisted of FHS alumni from as far back as the class of ’81. Michelle passed away on November 3, 2009. The band lasted until the retirement of Dave Ruffner.