The Rocket Flame

JBHS Indoor Guard and Percussion: You may now take the floor for Competition

Dylan Poffenberger (10), Jarrett Iverson (11), Ashley Grove (11), Mason Younker (10), Sarah Funk (12), Noah Shank (12), Zach Slodysko (10), Jacob Troupe (10), Deanna Grove (11), and Wesley Walls (12), act the part while performing at Conestoga Valley High School.

Dylan Poffenberger (10), Jarrett Iverson (11), Ashley Grove (11), Mason Younker (10), Sarah Funk (12), Noah Shank (12), Zach Slodysko (10), Jacob Troupe (10), Deanna Grove (11), and Wesley Walls (12), act the part while performing at Conestoga Valley High School.

Dylan Poffenberger (10), Jarrett Iverson (11), Ashley Grove (11), Mason Younker (10), Sarah Funk (12), Noah Shank (12), Zach Slodysko (10), Jacob Troupe (10), Deanna Grove (11), and Wesley Walls (12), act the part while performing at Conestoga Valley High School.

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As the tarp unfolds to cover the wooden gym floor, worn from the multiple ensembles and equipment, the crowd is imagining a beautiful show that will make them feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. As James Buchanan takes the floor for competition, the crowds’ heads turn when they see: creepy bunnies and prisoners? WHAT? Going into their third year in Keystone Indoor Drill Association (KIDA) bracket, both groups practice twice a week to present their shows “Alice” and “The Noise Inside.”


“The Noise Inside” is the name of this year’s percussion show.  Dressed as prisoners the performers act the part as they would if they were in a real prison. “The Noise Inside” profiles the escape from imprisonment in one’s own mind, accompanied with chains, prison guards, and the words “get out.”


Under the direction of Band Director, Mrs. Sheryl Deike (Faculty), and percussion instructor Mr. Michael Seville (Staff). The percussion is led onto the floor by seniors Sarah Funk, Sean Martin, Noah Shank, and Wesley Walls.


The show starts out with Funk sitting inside a large cage that represents a prison cell. Cast as the stereotypical “scary prisoner,” her is hair teased a million ways, and loud shrieks of laughter come from her as she “tries to break free from all the noises inside her head.”


The percussionist also struggles from the noises, with crazy looks and lots of hair pulling in frustration. In the end, the percussionist are freed from the noises with a final tear of the prison stripes from the main character.

Back Row: Gabriel Bard (11), Cody Izer (10), Zach Slodysko (10), Noah Shank (12), Jarrett Iverson (11), Mason Younker (10), Dylan Poffenberger (10), Jacob Troupe (10), Sean Martin (12), Nathan Walls (11), Wesley Walls (12), Ashley Grove (11), Alex Younker (8). Row 2: Carly Ashway (10), Jynna Kent(11), Faith Mitchell (10), Abby Carbaugh (10), Harley Lane (10), Deanna Grove (11), Elijah Poe (9), Wyatt Mitchell (8), Hayden Mellott (8). Front: Sarah Funk (12).

The percussion has doubled from last year, having a total of twenty-three members. Expanding the grade level, the percussion is accompanied by three eighth graders: Alex Younker, Wyatt Mitchell, and Hayden Mellott.


“I remember the first time in 8th grade that they [the percussion] did a show, I watched them when they came up to the middle school and I thought was the coolest thing ever,” said Mellott. “I got the opportunity in eighth grade to do it, and I knew this was something I wanted to do.”  


Also following the dark and sinister act, the guard presents their version on the song “Her Name is Alice” by Shinedown.


Set in Wonderland, main character Alice, played by Sharlene Hunt (9), is taken by the white rabbits (other guard members) through a delusional enchantment of the mad world. Hunt tries to reach freedom by getting through the door but is taken in captivity by the “hare” raising- supernatural white rabbits.


Starting the show, Hunt is the only one seen on the floor, confused and scared for what’s to come. She then falls as Chelsea Wareham (11), is the first one to kick open the door and the rest of the members follow close behind. With sharp and aggressive movements, the guard portrays the characters to make the audience feel like they are sitting right in a whimsical yet dark world of Wonderland. The guard are led onto the floor by seniors, Pheylan Cooper, Caitlin Heise, and Katlin Shatzer.

Back Row: Chelsea Wareham (11), Pheylan Cooper (12), Kristen Louder (11), Katlin Shatzer (12), Gwen Hunt (11). Front: Caitlin Heise (12), Sharlene Hunt (9), Hannah Zomak (11).

“Evil and intimidating” are the words Caitlin Heise (12) used to describe the show. “The battle of the rabbits against Alice is the main theme.”


With only eight guard members, the team seems to bond like no other. Having communication is the key to any performance, staying in time and counting is what brings the whole show together.


“You’re gonna always consider them (the members) like your family,” said Pheylan Cooper (12) “ I feel like they are all my sisters.”


Under the direction of Rachel Deike (Staff), who is responsible for writing drill and routines for both the weapon and flag line, works each week on improving the show to impress the judges for a higher score at the next competition.


Both groups will be performing in Greencastle on Saturday, Feb. 24, going up against other competitors in their category.


Together, guard and percussion will work to improve their shows, for a high score and rank at the Chambersburg championships taking place for the guard on April 7, and percussion on April 8.

Lessen the Stress- How Prom expenses are still rising and how to keep costs down

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When you are preparing for what could be the most magical night of your high school career, spending any amount is worth the cost for the perfect dress, a limousine, and pristine hair and nails, right?

With Prom season right around the corner, millions of teens across the country are already getting ready for the event. Though most start the search for a dress early  in the spring to ensure they’ll find the perfect one, saving up for that dress starts even earlier.

According to USA Today, the average American family spent roughly $700 on prom in 2017. That’s a $200 increase from the 2016 Prom season, where according to the Alabama Living Media Group the average teen shelled out over $500 on the event.

The average $700 is made up of dresses that can cost upward of $200, and dinner rounding in around $75 per average couple according to Alabama Living. Along with tickets for the dance itself costing teens at the very least another $50, many families look for ways to cut spending expenses on an extravagant night.

One way in which many girls choose to save money is by thrifting a prom dress. Whether buying a used dress from a friend or purchasing one from a second-hand store, both help make Prom just as special while sticking to a budget.

Another way to keep spending low is by DIY-ing your makeup. The average girl spends $35 to get professional makeup done, but with a good bit of practice and help from friends and family, you can create your own personalized and unique makeup look at a much more pocket-friendly price.

Other ways you can cut costs include: doing your own hair can eliminate $50 hair salon bills, and painting your own nails could save you around $30.   

Carpooling to the dance, and having a formal dinner at a friends house before the dance rather than spending another $50 on eating out can both be ways to lower prom costs.

For guys rather than renting a tuxedo, a cost-efficient way to still look your best is by purchasing a nice suit ensemble. You’ll still look sharp and you’ll be able to get more than one night of wear out of it as it can be worn for other future events. For the rest of your outfit, browsing local thrift shops and online sites for lightly used formal wear can help save money while still dressing sharply.

With prom coming up, taking these tips and using other creative ideas can be super beneficial when trying to plan the most memorable night of the year, while trying to have more fun for less.

To Sail or Sink?

Though the Titanic may have sunk over 100 years ago, it will be sailing once more at James Buchanan High School.

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The school’s Drama Club will be performing the musical, Titanic that originally debuted on Broadway in 1997. The Broadway performance was nominated and then later came to win five Tony Awards, including “Best Musical” and “Best Score”.


“This is not the movie Titanic’. The musical Titanic is not going to feature a Jack or Rose,” Logan Williams (11) said. “It is going to be a more about the historical values of the Titanic. We are going to be portraying real characters that lived on the Titanic and have died.”

Nearly everyone in the cast is named and is based on a real person who sailed on the Titanic.


“I play Harold bride, wireless operator with Marconi International Marine Signal Communication Company, Limited,” Williams said.


Though knowing who their character really is may help, there can be some difficulties.


“The most challenging part of performing is trying to be this character that you’re not,” Williams said. “You have to set aside yourself and you have to put on this disguise, this facade, of someone else, and you have to be that person on stage.”


Sydney Jones
Thrilled to be on board, Logan Williams (11) and Allison Collings (11) point out seagulls on the RMS Titanic.


The Drama Club has changed course in the past couple of years.


“In the past with James Buchanan High School Drama Club, I’ve been in Is He Dead, ‘Jekyll and Hyde, and a couple of Cabarets,” Williams said.


This change in direction can be correlated with the change in directors. Mr. Luke Surgeon and Mrs. Kristin Zimmerman became the directors of the Drama Club in 2015.


“He [Luke] was actually in charge the year before that for Little Women that would have been three productions ago, four years ago,” Zimmerman said. “But then the year after that, I had the opportunity to be able to do this. I said, ‘How would you like an assistant?‘ He said, ‘I think that’ll work,’ and the rest is history.”


They have worked on two productions together, and have hosted some Cabarets as a fundraiser for the Drama Club, but haven’t attempted anything like this.


“The story is such an epic, tragic story that just is really interesting to a lot of people, so that should be at the big draw for us, which is good,” Zimmerman said.


The students have put in nearly as many hours a week as sports teams in the school.


“We get nine hours of practice a week, which is crazy for something like this,” Zimmerman said. “But I think a lot of prep work goes in on students behalf outside of rehearsal too. Clearly, people work on lines and songs, not in here, or else it would not work. So it’s important that people are prepared before they come in.”


The dedication needed for the cast and crew is what makes the show come together.


“It’s definitely an undertaking for three nights, and then it’s just over,” Zimmerman said.


Not only are emotions high for the ending of the performance, but remembering the tragedy they are performing is another dismal feature.


“Once you remember that these were real people, and that this really happened to these people, that’s like a whole other aspect of it to me,” Zimmerman said. “So it’s neat to act through something that’s real, which is new for us.”


The Titanic sets sail March 16, 17, and 18 at James Buchanan High School, with Williams, Zimmerman, and the rest of the cast and crew.

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The Sun is Also a Star Book Review

The cover of The Sun is Also a Star

The cover of The Sun is Also a Star

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The Sun is Also a Star (2016)

Author: Nicola Yoon


Synopsis: Natasha Kingsley is a Jamaican teenager who is about to get deported in less than 24 hours. As Natasha spends the day trying to get her family to stay in New York, she runs into Daniel Bae. Daniel is heading for an interview with Yale until his encounter with Natasha throws his day for a spin. Natasha and Daniel go on adventures around the city together, wasting the hours before Natasha may get deported.


What’s Hot

As Nicola Yoon’s first novel, Everything, Everything, turned out to be a popular hit that many enjoyed, Yoon succeeded herself with her second novel, The Sun is Also a Star. When the chapters changed, the narrator did, as well. This gave the reader different perspectives, not only from the main characters, but also from minor characters. The novel also hit the heart of many teenagers or adults that love a good romance. The differences between the two main characters’ beliefs, lives, and personalities made the novel’s love story more interesting and easy to get caught up in.


What’s Not

When reading through this novel, some might cringe or groan about all the cliche moments, which happen to make the book more unrealistic. There are also many coincidences that are, although cute to some people, can be repetitive and impractical. Another thing to note is that all of the moments the two main characters share and that bring the two together occur within the span of one day which is unique, but can also add another unrealistic factor onto the novel.  


Bottom Line

The Sun is Also a Star is an easy-going, romantic book that contains many unique factors that other novels lack. It is above satisfactory and I would definitely recommend this to others.   





Dancing the Night Away for Valentine’s Day

At the Sadie Hawkins dance, Tia Campbell (10), Victoria Hutchison (11), Mercedes Shank (11), Kristin Embly (11), and Jade Hornbaker (11) enjoy their time together.

At the Sadie Hawkins dance, Tia Campbell (10), Victoria Hutchison (11), Mercedes Shank (11), Kristin Embly (11), and Jade Hornbaker (11) enjoy their time together.

At the Sadie Hawkins dance, Tia Campbell (10), Victoria Hutchison (11), Mercedes Shank (11), Kristin Embly (11), and Jade Hornbaker (11) enjoy their time together.

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It has always been a tradition for the boy to ask the girl to the dance. However, modern times have proved to change this tradition, now it is has become common for a girl to ask a guy. It hasn’t always been this way, but a chance could arise for a girl if there was a “Sadie Hawkins Dance.” A Sadie Hawkins Dance is designed for a girl to ask the guy to the dance, but Sadie Hawkins was not originally a dance.


According to Sporcle’s blog article, Sadie Hawkins is a character from, Li’l Abner, a comic strip during the Great Depression. Sadie Hawkins was a young adult, in a fictional town called Dogpatch. Sadie was having trouble finding a husband, so her father held a race for marriage prospects. The men would run and whoever Sadie could catch would become her future husband.


This comic interested many women who did not want to marry traditionally, and choose their own husband. The comic strip features Sadie Hawkins in 1937 and the first Sadie Hawkins dance in 1938 at the University of Tennessee.

Dancing to a slow song, Chelsea Wareham (11) and Dean King (10) smile as they talk to one another.

Since it was the final Student Council-hosted dance of the year, dance chairs Kristin Embly (11) and Shaelyn Kaiser (11) decided they wanted to do something different than past years, a Sadie Hawkins Dance.


“As a dance chair you want to make each dance different and have one aspect that makes it stand out so people will want to come,” Embly said.


Embly and Kaiser then had to choose a theme for the dance to base decorations around, as well as the time of year.


“We chose Paris as the theme, because you think of love and happiness when you think of Paris,” Embly said.


It is not easy for Student Council to have a dance; it requires months of planning, making and buying decorations, creating posters, decorating the cafeteria, as well as finding chaperones.


“My favorite part about preparing for the dance is the design concept. I love to make decorations, and place them in certain areas I think will work,” Embly said. “I’ve always loved to design layout and decorations”.


Embly and Kaiser kept other students’ suggestions in mind while they were planning the dance.

“Lots of students love the idea of a Sadie Hawkins Dance,” Embly said. “We have also gotten a lot of positive feedback for the theme, as well as having food at this dance.”

Enjoying the music Erin Copenhaver (12), Izabella Fuller (10) and Samantha Mumper (11) dance and sing to the music.

Student Council planned to make it one of the best nights ever for the students, carefully planning everything from the DJ to the decorations.


“Over all, the dance went really smooth,” Student Council member, Tia Campbell (10) said. “We had a lot more people attend than we thought we were going to have.”


The Sadie Hawkins Dance took place February 10 and the student body danced the night away under the red gossamer hung from the cafeteria ceiling, with the ladies having first choice of their dates.

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Seasons Greetings from Japan

The Story of Christmas in the Land of the Rising Sun

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With the holiday rush in full swing, it’s hard to make time for relaxation. When taking a step back from the Christmas chaos, people may begin to think about how to escape the craziness. Why not run off to Japan? It wouldn’t seem like a candidate for causing holiday insanity, but as it would stand, they’ve even got their own Christmas traditions, too.


Buddhist monks, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and fantastic light shows are all great things, but aren’t quite the “merriment and Christmas traditions” most households have in mind.


In Japan, only about 1% of the entire population is Christian, so the practice had not been an established holiday for very long. According to Muza-chan, it was not until 1552 when Christmas was first practiced. At that point, Christmas was practiced very traditionally, but with slight alterations to the ornaments on their trees adapting to Japanese culture.


By 1635, Muza-chan notes, the practice had been banned by Japanese authority under the Sudoku Edict, a ban placed against all things Christian.


In 1875, Christmas time made a non-religious resurgence thanks to yuletide stories like Santakuro, which taught children of Santa Claus, and his jolly gift-giving nature. According to Muza-chan, other tales of Old Chris Cringle depicted him as a brave samurai and even the monk god of contentment, Hotei.


Over time, Hotei evolved into Hoteiosho, the Japanese Santa Claus. He is described as a jolly and round monk, who gives presents to children who have been good that year. It is also said that Hoteiosho has eyes on the back of his head, making him able to see if the children have been bad or good.


Now, Christmas in Japan is bigger than ever, although many of the traditions practiced in the U.S. don’t fly overseas.


To start, Christmas is seen as a couple’s holiday, much like Valentine’s Day, and is often celebrated by young partners and newlyweds as a day to appreciate having each other. Couples commonly give each other gifts and go on dates to celebrate the season of cheer.


As for children and parents, the holiday is more similar to Christmas in the U.S. than for couples. In Japan, the holiday is spent at home with family, everyone opens presents from under the tree. Often times friends and extended family will visit for Christmas dinner.


Christmas dinner in Japan does not include the traditional prime cuts of roasted ham, beef, goose, or turkey. There are no pies, plum puddings, or Christmas cookies, either. Instead, approximately 3.6 million people flock to KFC, according to Eric Barton’s article for the BBC. The rush is so great that many people order weeks in advance to avoid waiting in line for hours.


KFC for Christmas started off as a discount party barrel as well as Colonel Sanders dressed as Colonel Santa, but over time it changed into a family-sized package of fried chicken, wine, and cakes. For extra fees, the meal can be upgraded to a premium edition, with an entire roast chicken and sides.


Aside from Christmas dinner, many holiday-themed treats and collectibles are made just for the season of giving.


The most common treats are Christmas cakes; small sponge cakes decorated with candy scenes of Santa Claus. The cakes are decorated in a similar manner to gingerbread houses and are put on display like gingerbread houses like them as well.


Other Christmas treats include seasonal mochi: small rolls of semi-firm bean paste that are sweetened and powdered then decorated to look like Santa Claus and other mascots. Thematic bento boxes are organized meals that usually consist of sushi, sashimi, tempura, rice, and soy sauce. During the holidays, many bento boxes are made to look like Christmas trees as well as other symbols of the holidays.


There are also many practices taken to spread merriment, but the biggest of all are illuminations, massive light shows that are synchronized and worked on for months prior.


The largest of the illuminations is in the Tokyo Skytree Town, which has the tallest Christmas tree in the world. The illuminations last from Dec 1 to Dec 25.


From monks to light shows, Christmas in Japan is as unique and chaotic as Christmas in the US. Still yet, many people partake in the merriment and cheer of the season, in one way or another.

The New Shop in Town

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As you drive through Mercersburg you may have noticed there is a new shop in town. In the square there is a new coffee shop called One North. They haven’t been open very long, but have had a busy start. The grand opening was the night of the Christmas Tree Lighting and they entertained the customers with a musician performing live music.


Lena Eckstine is the owner of the shop, and has been working closely with the manager Audrey Birkhimer. Eckstine and Birkhimer met in person in September when Birkhimer told Eckstine she was on board to help her dream of starting a coffee shop.


Birkhimer was working at another shop at the time but said, “Things just kinda happened and fell into place.”  


Since then Birkhimer and Eckstine have been working hand-in-hand to get the shop up and running.


“I did the menu, I did the hiring, I did some of the work around here [the shop]” said Birkhimer.


Working in a coffee shop has been a dream of Birkhimer’s since she was in high school, so for her this was like a dream come true. Working in the shop hasn’t been as hard of a task for Birkhimer as one might think.


“It was nice to get into the rhythm again,” said Birkhimer. “I’ve been a barista before so it was nice.”


Although the barista side of things for her was easy, she had never been in complete control of the hiring process like she is at One North. Birkhimer went through all the applications and did all the hiring. One of our own students, Savanna Riley (11) was lucky enough to become a member of the staff.


One North is open Monday through Saturday every week. So far the shop has not had an exact estimate on when their busiest times are, but when the Mercersburg Academy students have their free time, they like to come in and hang out in the shop. Their grand opening was held on a Saturday and that has been the most popular day.


“Throughout the week we get busier,” Birkhimer said. “So Mondays aren’t super busy then Tuesdays pick up, Wednesdays are busier and then it kinda leads up to Saturdays.”

The shop offers a variety of drinks on the menu, from lattes to smoothies to cappuccinos.


“Chai Lattes and London Fogs are super popular,” said Birkhimer. “But other than that, probably just a plain vanilla latte, people love those”.


A Chai Latte is two pumps of concentrated chai syrup and the rest is milk. A London Fog is a pump of vanilla syrup and earl gray tea and steamed milk.


In the words of Birkhimer these are “really yummy.”


The shop also does a specialty item of sticky buns on the weekends that seems to be very popular. As of now this is the only specialty item that they have, but there is a possibility for more things in the future.


One North has plans to hold different events in the shop to make it like a hang-out space for the community. So far they have had a musician come in and do live music and other things could be coming in the future.


“Poetry slams [and] live music is definitely on the list,” Birkhimer said. “Different things the community would be interested in we would want to host.”


Along with the baked goods and drinks, there is also a gift shop located inside of One North. There are different items you can peruse t and purchase while you are waiting for your order.


The shop also offers free Wi-Fi that customers can use while they are at the shop. A variety of people come to the shop for a drink or snack, but also some to work. Some people come to work on things because they work at home or they are allowed to work remotely. A lot of students come in to work on homework and connect to the shops Wi-Fi.


From couches and loveseats to tables and chairs there is a variety of comfortable options to sit at in the shop making a place where all people can feel welcome.


“We never want this to be an area of unrest or contention,” said Birkhimer.  “It’s for everyone in Mercersburg and beyond to come and just hang out.”

The gift shop located inside of One North Coffee and Bake Shop.

Traditions of Hanukkah

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A growing holiday in the United States is Hanukkah. This holiday lasts for eight days.  and has six key components. The holiday is centered around the lighting of a menorah, foods prepared in oil, special songs, games, and gift exchanges.


An article Better Homes and Gardens states “The centerpiece of the Hanukkah celebration is the hanukkiah, also known as the menorah.”


The menorah holds nine candles. The center one is lit first and then is used to light the other eight candles. The eight candles represent the number of days celebrated during Hanukkah. When lighting the menorah,  the candles are lit from the left to the right. After the menorah is lit, it is typically displayed in the window of the Jewish home for everyone to see. Before candles, the menorah used to be lit with olive oil.


“The miracle of the oil lasting eight days is not only celebrated through the lighting of the menorah, but also in the traditional foods that are eaten. The author Brynn Holland states two of the most popular dishes, latkes and sufganiyot


The two main foods prepared for the Jewish holiday are called latkes and sufganiyot, states the The latkes are basically a potato pancake which are made by grated potatoes with eggs to form a batter. It is then poured onto a skillet where it is fried in oil. The other dish sufganiyot are a lot like jelly doughnuts. This is made by baking dough and inserting jelly into it, and topping it off with powdered sugar.  


Hanukkah comes with its own set of carols that are sung within the household, to represent the meaning of their religion. Some songs include “On Chanukah, Sevivon,” “Mi Y’malel,” and one of the most famous, “I Have a Little Dreidel.” The carol “I Have a Little Dreidel” is so prominent because it is the song that is sung when playing the game dreidel.


The game dreidel is almost like a gambling game. First the dreidel has four sides and each side has a hebrew letter on it. Any number of people are able to play. Each player is required to have the same amount of game pieces, things that can be used as game pieces are coins, raisin, and chocolate. Then someone spins the dreidel and depending on which side the dreidel lands on then each player has to either give or take a piece. The player who has the all game pieces first wins.


The author Natasha Rosenstock states that Hanukkah gifts were not traditionally a part of the holiday, however it has become a huge tradition to get a gift each day.


Since Hanukkah consists of eight days, each day a present is given from the parents to the children. Presents include puzzles, games, clothing, candy, and coins. Presents are given to keep the tradition of Hanukkah going and  to spend time with the family.


Hanukkah has so many traditions from the lighting of the menorah, the food that is prepared, songs that are sung, games that are played, and the gifts that are exchanged.


On Friday, Nov. 17, the James Buchanan Drama Club members switched places in their Miscast Cabaret.

Her dress sparkling under the stage lights, Olivia Harmon (11) performs “Stars” from Les Miserables.

Her dress sparkling under the stage lights, Olivia Harmon (11) performs “Stars” from Les Miserables.

Sydney Jones

Sydney Jones

Her dress sparkling under the stage lights, Olivia Harmon (11) performs “Stars” from Les Miserables.

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Cabaret is a tradition started by Mr. Luke Spurgeon (Staff) and Mrs. Kristin Zimmerman (Faculty), where the Drama Club performs different pieces from musicals and plays.


“The first Cabaret was this time of year, in November 2015. It was the same year as Jekyll and Hyde,” Spurgeon said.


Their theme this year was Miscast, which is where the boys are to sing songs originally performed by girls, and vice versa.


“There’s a whole bunch of awesome songs that are written for girls on Broadway that guys never get to sing and a whole bunch of awesome songs that are written for guys on Broadway that girls never get to sing, so, we’re switching them,” Spurgeon said.


Opening the show was Kierstyn Martin (12) and Sean Martin (12) as the hosts who performed “Anything You Can Dofrom Annie Get Your Gun.


“Cabaret is kind of like old-fashioned karaoke,” explained drama director Mr. Luke Spurgeon, “It’s just a night of informal singing songs that you like.”


With this thought in mind, Cabaret was born, and gave some students the performance of their high school career.  


“Cabaret is a chance to give some students who don’t get a lot of solo time on stage the opportunity to get in front of a crowd and sing a solo, to perform, to get used to being on stage before they have to jump into the musical or a play or something,” Spurgeon commented. “It’s kind of like the training ground for performing.”


Those who participate enjoy the freedom involved with Cabaret.


“You can basically perform whatever song you want and have fun with it,” said Korina Williams (12). “You get to dress up, and it’s all about you.”


There were sixteen students and 2 faculty members that performed on Friday, and about fifty people attended the show. Songs from Les Miserables, Oliver!, Dear Evan Hanson, and many more were showcased. Williams was supposed to sing “Music of the Night” from the classic Phantom of the Opera, but was unable to sing due to sickness.


Though some were under the weather, the show must go on! The performance was brought to a close by Emily Palmerchuck (11) singing “Cabaret” from the musical Cabaret. It helped conclude the show by sticking with its theme of switching things up.  

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Giving Thanks Around the Globe

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Almost everyone in America has heard of Thanksgiving day, and can often times remember their favorite meals, desserts, and pastimes on this day when we show our gratitude. What of other countries, though? How do they give thanks to those they hold dear? The answer isn’t as far from American Thanksgiving, but with a bit of every culture’s own twist.


Every different culture gives thanks, usually to coincide a great harvest. Though they always have large celebrations that bring the family together and warm the hearts of many on their special day.


1. Erntedankfest (Germany, Switzerland, Austria):

Information Provided By:


Erntedankfest, translating to “Harvest Thanksgiving Festival,” is a day to gives thanks for a plentiful harvest and to spend time with family. Though, it lacks an official date and time, it is commonly celebrated on the first Sunday in October or the first Sunday after Michaelmas. Another time common time of celebration is in November as to co-celebrate the Wine Harvest.


There are also many ways that one can celebrate the day including dancing, singing, and, of course, food. Along with the popular practice of coronating a “Harvest Queen,” called the Erntekönigin.

The dinner that is eaten is very similar to an American Thanksgiving feast, with turkey, goose and may of the crops from the harvest. The food is eaten by family and friends alike and what is left over is given to needy families.


The evening that follows is another festival, known as Laternenumzug where towns will light fireworks, torches, and lanterns throughout the night to commemorate the great harvest, and hope for another next year.

2. The Moon Festival (China):

Information Provided By:


Starting in the Zhou Dynasty, the custom originated from worshipping the moon goddess by offering her food and crops during Mid-Autumn.


During the Tang Dynasty, the custom became very popular among high-class merchants and political officials. Often times they would throw parties and drink to commemorate the harvest.


In the Yuan Dynasty, the Moon festival was created on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. Eating mooncakes was a common way to celebrate the holiday, it also became a secret messaging system for the Chinese rebel alliances planning to overthrow the Mongols.


In both the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the festival reached its peak popularity and the day was celebrated with fireworks, burning of pagodas, and dragons dances.


Lantern making is a very popular means of celebration among children. The lanterns are hung in parks and on roofs as well as floated down rivers, and some, called Kongming Lanterns, are floated into the sky after children write their wishes in them.


3. The Harvest Festival (UK):

Information Provided By:

Pre-dating Christianity, the harvest festival is one holiday that has been around for some time. The name is derived the middle English term “Haerfest” which means Autumn.


There are many different parts to the celebration of this holiday, starting with Lammas day, a day where a loaf of bread is brought to church mass to celebrate the reaping of the crops.


On Sept. 9, Saint Michael’s Mass is celebrated with a huge feast of harvest crops like corn, squash, and pumpkins and roast geese. Later there are fairs and market stalls as well as church decorating and corn doll making. The corn dolls represent a good harvest and the goddess of grain they are also a sacrifice to the hare.


4. Têt Trung Thu (Vietnam):

Information Provided By:


Têt Trung Thu is a holiday that is very similar to the Chinese Moon Festival, even falling on the same day. The name translates to “the Mid-Autumn Festival” and its main focus, despite the name, is the youth. The original purpose of the holiday was so that parents could catch up on the lives of their children.


Banh Trung Thu, translated to “mooncakes”, are very similar to the Chinese mooncake. Although the mooncakes are a part of the celebration (and are often thrown away like Christmas fruitcake), the main attraction of the holiday is Lion Dancing.


Lion Dancing is a practice in which many children dress up in paper and cast lions and dance from door to door, bringing good luck to those who will accept their dances. In return, the children receive good luck money and thank the provider before continuing on.


In the end, at nightfall, lanterns fill the waters remembering loved ones last and being thankful for the memories of them.


With many countries come the many ways to appreciate life, though they’re all quite different, they all give thanks to family, friends, and years to come. Something that isn’t as far off as it would seem from American Thanksgiving.


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Stoner’s Haunted Corn Maze is All the Craze

During the Haunted Hayride at Stoner’s Dairy Farm, one of the volunteers roams and creates fear amongst visitors. “There are a good amount of scares,” says Owen Stoner (11), “We have a lot of people in the maze.”

During the Haunted Hayride at Stoner’s Dairy Farm, one of the volunteers roams and creates fear amongst visitors. “There are a good amount of scares,” says Owen Stoner (11), “We have a lot of people in the maze.”

During the Haunted Hayride at Stoner’s Dairy Farm, one of the volunteers roams and creates fear amongst visitors. “There are a good amount of scares,” says Owen Stoner (11), “We have a lot of people in the maze.”

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During the Haunted Hayride at Stoner’s Dairy Farm, one of the volunteers roams and creates fear amongst visitors. “There are a good amount of scares,” says Owen Stoner (11), “We have a lot of people in the maze.”

Picture yourself with your jacket zipped up, hands in your pockets, and a hat on your head. It is dark out, and you can hear the corn rattle as the evening wind whistles by. The weather is chilly, but tolerable. You are warm, with beads of sweat forming on your brow as your body gets warmer and warmer with anticipation; the anticipation that has been building up as you hear the screams of people, just like you, who you cannot see because they are hidden behind the many rows of corn. Will you be the next person to scream?


Local business, Stoner’s Dairy Farm, hosts a fun fall activity for anybody looking to have a good time. The Stoner’s Corn Maze is a weekend pleasure, which also offers a Haunted Corn Maze. There is also several other add-ons besides the haunted maze, which is only available on particular nights, the next one being Nov. 3.


The Stoner’s Haunted Maze is a fairly new addition to the fall attractions, such as their regular and flashlight maze nights, available at the Stoner’s Dairy Farm.


“The haunted corn maze is more exclusive, and has been going on for more like five years now,” said Owen Stoner (11), who is part of the family business.


Stoner himself admits that he enjoys helping out, but he also takes out time to be a victim of the maze.


“Sometimes I dress up and help scare in the maze because that is pretty fun for me,” said Stoner. “I also like just walking through just for the thrill.”


As the years have gone by, the maze has continued to pull in frequent visitors to the haunted attraction.


“I was there last year,” said Maggie Strawoet (11), “I thought this year was a lot better than last year, and I thought there were a lot more people in it that were scarers.”


As the amount of actors has increased, the maze itself has continued to get more frightening.  

While waiting in line to enter the Haunted Corn Maze at Stoner’s Dairy Farm, Maggie Strawoet (11) and Drew Devotie (11), laugh off an unexpected scare from one of the actors.

“I was scared when you were walking through the maze awhile, and then somebody would pop out of nowhere,” said Strawoet.


There is more to the ticket than just the corn maze, though. Stoner’s also includes another frightening experience: a haunted hayride.


“Personally, my favorite part is the haunted hayride.The corn maze is pretty scary itself, but the hayride, after you go in, kind of adds to the whole entire experience,” said Stoner.


The hayride is filled with actors prepared to scare just like the corn maze.

Along with the Haunted Corn Maze at Stoner’s Dairy Farm, there is a selection of other activities. “There is the hayride, a petting zoo, a bunch of food, hot chocolate, milkshakes,” says Owen Stoner (11).

“The scarers still come out, but it is pretty freaky whenever you are on the ride,” said Stoner.


If you are not really into the scare, and you just come along to hangout with your friends, you do not have to worry, there is more to do!


“There was the haunted hayride, which was pretty fun, too, where there was people who would like walk around the hayride, like the little cart in the back, and scare you,” said Strawoet, “There was a campfire, a petting zoo, and stuff like that.”


Don’t forget, the cult classic throughout Mercersburg during Halloween time will be available on Friday, Nov. 3 , for its last debut during the fall of 2017! Tickets are seven dollars, for the haunted corn maze, haunted hayride, and all the amenities that come along with it.

Campfire History: The Soul of Halloween

From Samhuin to Halloween and Everything Inbetween

Photo by: Aaron Stone

Photo by: Aaron Stone

Photo by: Aaron Stone

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Halloween is a holiday like none other, it’s the one day out of the year where everyone dresses up, face their fears, and go bother all the neighbors into giving enough candy to last until the next Halloween. Many wonder where this destructively- delightful day came from.


The history of Halloween began over 2000 years ago from a ritual of the Celtic people, according to a article entitled “History of Halloween.” Long ago, in what is now Ireland, the Celtic people believed that nature guided and allowed them to flourish. In turn, the Celts had many holidays devoted to thanking nature and celebrating its beauty. Although one holiday did not celebrate such things; that day was called Samhain (sah-win).


Samhain was celebrated on the evening of Oct. 31, their New Year’s Eve. The celebration focused on the ending of summer, it’s harvests, and preparing for the cold and dark winter ahead.


To the Celtics, winter was associated with death and during Samhain it was believed that the spirits, both good and bad, returned. They believed that if they did not ward off the evil spirits, their harvest would be destroyed by the ghosts.


In 43 AD the Roman Empire overtook the Celtic territories and adopted some of their beliefs, one of which was Samhain.


The Romans had a holiday like Samhain at the end of October, called Feralia. A day that honored the passing of the dead, and a day which honored Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees. This is the believed beginning of apple bobbing since Pomona’s symbol was the apple.


During the 9th century, the Celtic and Christian beliefs began to diffuse as the Christians moved to Celtic territories. Come 1000 AD, the church created another holiday that was similar to All Saint’s Day called “All Souls’ Day” taking place on Nov. 2. All Souls’ Day practiced most of the same things as Samhain, but the costumes were of saints, angels, and devils instead of animals. All Saint’s Day also began to be called All-hallows or All-hallowmas “From Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day,” according to So the name and practices of the day continued to change, traditionally Samhain to the Celts, now called All-hallows Eve, and eventually Halloween.


When the American colonies began Halloween, it was not commonly practiced in the northern states, due to the heavy Protestant system. The southern states were the first to partake in such celebrations called “Play Parties”. This consisted of different American Indian and colonial people -of all kinds beliefs and ethnicities- celebrating the harvest and telling ghost stories, foreseeing futures, singing, and dancing.

About 50 years later, thanks to the large amounts of immigration mainly from Ireland, Halloween hit America along with the idea of trick-or-treating, being called “going a-souling”. When “going a-souling,” kids dress up in ghoulish costumes (outfits with masks 

and torn clothes that made them look like ragged and wandering spirits or monsters) so they weren’t recognized by creatures of the night. Then they would go to their neighbor’s houses to ask for soul cakes (small cakes made to commemorate the dead) and other goods.


As stated, it wasn’t until the 1940s’ and 1950s’ that a new way to inexpensively practice Halloween needed to be adopted because of the baby-boom. Thus, the concept of going a-souling was revived under the new name of “Trick-or-Treating”.


Since then many films, songs and games have been made about Halloween, and the holiday is more endorsed than ever, with over $6 billion being spent on candy each year in the U.S. alone, according to This is a frightening amount, showing us just how far an idea from over 2000 years ago can go.

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