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A Starring role at Z-M

Dylon Starr would be a standout If gauged by sheer academics alone.

But there's a lot more to the graduating senior than grades, Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School leaders say.

Consider his resume:

• Co-president of student council.

• Director of a high school play.

• President of Z-M's National Honor Society.

• Co-president of Students Against Drunk Driving.

• Radio operator for KROC in Rochester.

• Employee at Z-M's Cougarcare for school-age kids.

• Part-timer at Bridget's Cafe in Zumbrota.

• Organist and pianist at two local churches.

"I'm real busy," Starr, 18, said Monday.

And how.

Starr's level of community involvement is at least on par with his top-shelf ranking in Z-M's class of 2008, Principal Erick Enger said.

"As a whole person, he really emulates what I'd really like to see in all of our graduates," Enger said. "I'd like him to be my neighbor."

Dedication to the Zumbrota area stems in part from Starr's father, whose community-minded example has been a model.

But with a jam-packed schedule, Starr said that also means learning on the fly.

"I think I've kind of learned that you can get too many irons in the fire, but you learn how to handle it," Starr said.

Headed to Winona State University with plans on earning an elementary education degree, Starr said children and teaching hold a special place in his heart.

In addition to his beefy resume, he also volunteers his time coaching first- and second-grade soccer players, and baby-sitting.

"I really like working with kids," Starr said. "It's fun."

If he can, Starr said he may pursue a college minor in theater -- another passion.

After whetting his artistic appetite in middle school productions, Starr continued his involvement in theater through high school. In his sophomore year, Z-M put on its first musical, which lured the actor and pianist back to the stage.

The next year, he took a bigger leap in directing "Little Shop of Horrors" -- Starr's favorite stage

production, bar none.

"That was a super-fun show," he said.

Directing also gave him a different vantage point, one replete with new responsibilities. That meant feeling out cast members' strengths and weaknesses, then determining how to arrange the production.

"You have to kind of see what they'll be comfortable with," he said.

Starr possesses a knack for striking an amiable tenor at Z-M, school officials said.

Z-M guidance counselor Angela Hunstad also serves as co-president of SADD with Starr.

Calling him "a genuine young man," she said he also carries leadership skills.

"He just takes charge" at SADD meetings, Hunstad said.

When time allows, Starr said he relaxes with scary movies, outdoor activities and music.