The Rocket Flame

Benches for the Community


Some students from the James Buchanan High School Art Club recently took on a new project to give people a colorful place to sit in the Mercersburg community. 

The Art Club was given the task by Dr. Elizabeth A. George, who is working alongside the The Mercersburg Area Council for Wellness and many others, to paint benches for a local trail in Mercersburg. The project includes four benches from James Buchanan, as well as four from the Mercersburg Academy. The benches were fabricated by Kyle Burdette of Burdette Ironworks in Mercersburg. Painting the benches allows the students to show their painting skills to a larger group of people other than just students at the school.

Kyla Shoemaker (11) a member of the Art Club, has taken on one of the benches by herself to benefit the community. 

“I’m painting a nature scene with local wildlife from the area, such as different types of trout and frogs” said Shoemaker. “I volunteered to paint the benches so that I could show my art and to give joy to the community.” 

Shoemaker spends a lot of her free time down in the art room working on the benches so that they will be done for the public by spring so that people can enjoy them when they start to go outside more.

“I’ve been working on the bench for almost six and a half hours already and I think it might take me up to eight by the time I am done with it,” Shoemaker said. 

There are a total of 13 students working in four groups on the benches. The project is entirely done by students like Shoemaker, with a little guidance from Mrs.Kayla Chambers-Matulevich (Faculty), the Art Club teacher and advisor at JBHS. The main goal was to illustrate local plants and animals.

“It’s mostly the students doing everything by themselves,” Chambers-Matulevich said. “The only thing I asked is that they do local wildlife to showcase local flora and fauna.”

Chambers-Matulevich, also thinks that the benches are a new and creative way for the students to demonstrate their talents to the community as a whole.

“When I was contacted, I thought it was a great project for the community,” said Chambers-Matulevich. “It’s a nice way to show the students’ talent and ability to people in the area.”

The students started painting the benches around the first week of February and are hoping to have them done by mid-March, so that everyone can enjoy them for the spring and summer months to come. The benches will be located at the Johnston’s Run trail on Oregon Street in Mercersburg once completed. The trail is open to anyone everyday of the week and is also handicap accessible.

Awards for the Keystone Kids


2020 started off right with the Pennsylvania Farm Show.  At the beginning of every year, people file into the Farm Show Complex to see all the attractions and events. Pennsylvania is proud to host the largest indoor agricultural exposition under one roof in the nation, but for certain students of the Conococheague FFA Chapter it is a great day of celebration.

 Members of the Conococheague FFA Chapter are able to get rewards to help their journeys in later agriculture paths. Two of the rewards you can get at the Farm Show are the Keystone Degrees and new members can get their FFA Jackets.

“It felt a lot like graduation,” said Faith Mitchell (12). “ We had to walk across the stage to get our awards.”

Eight members of the chapter earned awards, four receiving their Keystone Degrees and four got their jackets. The Keystone Degrees is the highest degree that can be bestowed on an FFA member at the state-level. The four recipients of the degree were Adrianna Durboraw (12), Rachel Martin (12), Faith Mitchell (12), and Colby Shingler (12). The first-year jacket recipients were Chloe Cook (9), Kristin Oberholtzer (9), Zane Ocker (10), and Connor Stine (9). 

“My initial reaction was excitement to getting my jacket,” said Zane Ocker (10).

When achieving these awards, a lot of work goes into them. The Keystone Degree recipient, must have demonstrated leadership abilities, as well as  earning or productively investing at least $1,000 or working at least 300 hours in a supervised agricultural experience program. When getting the FFA jackets, students  have to fill out an application on why they should get their jacket and how they are going to use it in their FFA journey. The significance of all of these awards are pushing students forward in your journey to success and never stop trying to get what you want. 

A Community of Sound


Every year there is a group of band students that assemble to participate in County Band, a music festival that encompasses the talent of students from a variety of schools in Franklin County. These students gather at a different school in the county each year to perform a variety of songs together. This year, this music festival was held at Central Fulton in McConnellsburg, PA. 

The former band director of Southern Fulton is directing the challenging and fun pieces of music for County Band this year, and the students have a variety of musicality levels they will be performing in multiple pieces.

“They have some tough pieces. They have ‘Three Ayers’ and they have ‘Military Selection,’” Mrs. Sheryl Deike (Faculty) said. “That is a tough piece, but not as tough as it is fast. There are some tough pieces, but then they have some mellow ones. They have ‘Hymnsong that we played last year in our concert band and the kids really liked that one.”’

Only a few select kids from James Buchanan get to go to County Band, but these kids earn the privilege to be part of this festival. 

“15 students are going. The major determining factor for those participating in County Band are those who put forth the effort to audition and go out for District Band,” said Deike.

The band directors from the different schools feel honored and privileged to have talented kids that have the opportunity to go to a festival like this.

“I feel very proud. I am always excited to show off my kids,” said Deike.

The students are very excited to participate in this festival, and the band directors, as well as the students, look forward to this time of year when they get to play with a new group of students they don’t get to play with on a daily basis.

“I really enjoy these festivals. It is fun to kind of get away and take the kids away and enjoy the time together,” said Deike.  “Hearing the kids come together and the sound. When you put your best in and all of them come together and just knowing we are all a community.”

Deike loves hearing the music that comes together after hard work to participate in a festival like County Band, so she works with these kids daily to make them the best musicians they can be and enjoys the time she spends with her kids every day.

“The kids and making music with the kids are my favorite part of being the Band Director at James Buchanan High School,” says Dieke.


Concerns Regarding Montgomery Elementary

Concerns Regarding Montgomery Elementary

Within the rural area of Southern Pennsylvania, Tuscarora School District contains six schools: four elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. Each elementary school has zoning boundaries to assign where each student will attend elementary school  in the district, and one of these schools is not getting as many students compared to the other three schools.


Montgomery Elementary School is having a predicament with enrollment numbers within the community. In order to solve this problem, Superintendent Rodney Benedick and the TSD Board of Directors have been gathering data. 


“There was an enrollment study from March of 2018: our enrollment is shrinking substantially, and, from this study, it’s supposed to shrink for the next 10 years,” said Benedick.


Other than the enrollment of the school, some decisions were being processed from many board meetings, committee meetings,and also public meetings about this topic. 


“The decision process has been deferred. We could be a year or more from actual decisions deep into this point,” said Benedick.  “The Board feels like they haven’t had time or input to make a decision yet.”


With all of the discussions and meetings, the Board wanted to announce this topic to the public to see what people might think of this.


“We had five different public sessions about this topic, we did School Reaches and put it in the paper, and not a lot of people paid attention to the early part of it, until the option phases came out, that’s when people really got involved in it because it becomes real by that point,” Benedick said. 


Another thing that we had to talk about was the pros and cons about this decision. This was important because people can have a plan on what would happen if Montgomery were to shut down.


“The pros would be to even out class sizes in our elementary schools said Benedick. ”The cons are nobody likes change, no one likes to have schools close.”


It’s a controversial topic because it impacts the community and the education of students.


“It’s a combined effort of the Board and the community to make the recommendation for what is right for our kids,” Benedick said.

Puerto Rican Paradise


After two years of planning, a group of 16 students were ready to begin their six-day journey in Puerto Rico that included snorkeling, hiking, ziplining, touring the capitol, kayaking in a bioluminescent bay, and eating lots of beans.

This was the first trip Ms. Danielle Simchick (Faculty) organized and planned on her own with her students. Ms. Danielle Fox (Faculty) and Mrs. Marie Donahoe (Faculty) accompanied her. Sign-ups began in the Fall of 2017, where 16 students decided to participate in this experience. With two years of planning and fundraising, June 18, 2019 was the day the group of students and faculty would start their travels after saying goodbye to their families and boarding a bus to BWI. 

To prepare for this big trip, students made lots of packing lists and learned about all the places they would be visiting. It is crucial to know the background of all the places that they were visiting.

“It was a little nerve-racking at first, but then after the first day everybody got really comfortable,” said Simchick. 

After the group made it to the airport, they made their way to the plane for the four-hour flight straight to San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

“The flight was really fun,” said Colby Starr. “It was some of our first time on a plane together.”

After landing, they were picked up by their tour guide on a bus after claiming all their baggage. The students started to experience the hot and humid weather of Puerto Rico, so they stopped at a local beach near the airport and enjoyed a couple of hours in the water before heading to the hotel.

The first full day of Puerto Rico was mostly all on foot. The first stop of the day was zip

lining and hiking. The rest of the day consisted of the students touring San Juan with a tour guide. 

All of the faculty and students gather together for a picture in front of the La Fortaleza in San Juan.

Three more groups accompanied JB on this trip: groups from Kansas, Virgina, and Wisconsin, which made a full bus. Between sightseeing and other activities, the students spent a lot of time getting to know the other groups. 

“My favorite part about the trip was snorkeling,” said Starr (11).

The next day was dedicated to riding a boat out to a small island off the coast of Puerto Rico. Students spent their time swimming, paddleboarding, and eating lots of food. After some time, a tour guide took all the students out farther in the ocean to snorkel. Most students said was their favorite part was seeing the sea turtles, stingrays, and puffer fish. 

Later that night, on the way home the last stop of the night was to a bioluminescent bay in Vieques. A bioluminescent bay is a bay that has tiny organisms that will light up at night, causing the water to turn bright blue, and students were able to kayak through it.


While touring San Juan, the group takes a picture at one of the pit stops.

After all the water and hiking days, the rest of the trip was spent touring Puerto Rico in San Juan and Ponce. The last day was traveling to Ponce and staying in a new hotel for the night. 

“This experience taught the students how to travel, how to navigate through an airport, how to be on time, how to pack, how to speak and practice Spanish, and most importantly how to be flexible and go with the flow,” said Simchick. 

Even though there was a set schedule, the students learned how to be open to things changing, as well. 

Once the time came on the sixth day, everyone got up and did a little more touring before getting on the bus to head home. Their flight home was a layover, so their first stop was in Orlando for a couple hours before they would make it to BWI. By that time, the students were anxious to be back home and in Mercersburg. 

Late that night after making it to the airport and onto the bus home, the students arrived in the middle of the night with welcoming friends and families waiting upon their arrival. 

With lots of pictures and new friendships, the students will always remember this experience and all hope to do it again with Simchick next year.

Science Days


The ap chemistry class poses for a picture on the playground at St. Thomas Elementary. Carlee Jackson (11), Tanner Myers (11), Jordan Harbold (11), Alyssa Blair (12), Daniel Corcoran (12), Trenton Morgan (12), Amanda Sensinger (11), Dale MIller (12), Mackenzie Saunders (11), Alyssa Velasquez-Glant (12), Kayla Noll-Bader (12), Ella Jones (12), and Abby Carbaugh (12)

The ap chemistry class poses for a picture on the playground at St. Thomas Elementary. Carlee Jackson (11), Tanner Myers (11), Jordan Harbold (11), Alyssa Blair (12), Daniel Corcoran (12), Trenton Morgan (12), Amanda Sensinger (11), Dale Miller (12), Mackenzie Saunders (11), Alyssa Velasquez-Glant (12), Kayla Noll-Bader (12), Ella Jones (12), and Abby Carbaugh (12)

On May 16 and 17, The AP Chemistry class at James Buchanan High School went to TSD Elementary schools for a Science Days.  During Science Days, the Chem class walked the elementary students through two experiments to get them excited about science.  After the experiments JBHS students related what they did to a real-life problem and showed how scientists solve problems. On Thursday the students went to St. Thomas and Mt. View and on Friday they went to Mercersburg and Montgomery.  

The project was first introduced by the high schools Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Rebecca Miller (Faculty).  She has been taking her AP Chemistry classes to the elementary schools for a little over ten years.

“I think we had a very successful day,”  said Noah Wise (12). “My favorite part was how excited all the little kids got when learning about science.”

Miller got the experiment ideas this year from the teacher’s science convention. During the Toothpaste Challenge, the students had to empty out a bottle of toothpaste and used their problem solving skills to see how much they could get back into the bottle.  

Hunter Gayman (2) and Chloe Shew (2) work together to get toothpaste back into the bottle during Elementary Science Day.

“The toothpaste lab was my favorite to do with the children because it was fun to see them use their imagination to come up with different ideas to get the toothpaste back into the bottle,” said Daniel Corcoran (12).

This was supposed to replicate when scientists have to quickly clean-up spills that can be harmful to the earth, people, or animals.  

The Copycat Challenge was used to show students how scientist are copycats sometimes when it comes to making new inventions.  An example given to the kids was how scientists got the idea of airplanes from animals like birds, butterflies, and bees.

“The copycat lab was my favorite to do with the kids because we had to remember the color wheel and experiment which colors would  show a desired color,” said Owen Stoner (12).

The challenge consisted of the children mixing different food coloring colors to mimic the color of soda.

Colton Pine (2) and Trey Shandle (2) work together to complete the Copycat Challenge on Elementary Science Day.

After the experiments were complete, the students had time to discuss how they were related to science.  They also had the opportunity to ask the high school students any questions they had about high school.

“It was really fun when the students asked us about high school,” said Corcoran. “We were asked questions from “ Is the lunch at the high school good?” to “ What are your plans after high school?”

In the future, Miller has hopes of expanding and continuing the project. Whether it be going to more grade levels or going to the middle school too.  The elementary science days have an impact on the younger kids and can be very memorable throughout the kids educational career.

Spring Has Sprung At One North Coffee Shop


Spring has sprung! One North Coffee Shop in Mercersburg, PA welcomes spring with a pop-up shop of decadent treats ranging from cupcakes to brownies to cakes. Flowers galore of all colors were present, as well as jewelry to spruce up colorful outfits to welcome the warm weather. The spring atmosphere was alive and well at One North Coffee Shop.

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, I’d Like To Go To Prom With You


What do marriages and proms have in common? Proposals! Or rather, “promposals” for high school juniors and seniors.

Writing out your ideas can help you eliminate ones you don’t like as much.

Couples and friends use promposals to ask each other to prom. If you don’t have your prom date yet, here are a few tips from students that have already “promposed” to their dates.

“To plan my promposal, I just sort of talked to my friends,” said Dylan Poffenberger (11). “I asked them what they thought I should do.”

Dylan Poffenberger (11) uses a letter to ask Allison Collings (12) to prom.

It doesn’t have to be just up to you. Use other friends as a resource to help come up with ideas. When brainstorming a way to ask his date to prom, Poffenberger and his friends came up with a promposal using the song “Please, Mr. Postman” by the Marvelettes.

“I used a satchel,” Poffenberger said, acting as the postman who brought a letter that asked his date to prom. “I had to borrow it from one of my friends.”

In addition to asking friends for ideas, it pays to ask friends to help with the promposal itself. Poffenberger borrowed a mail satchel from a friend, and Jackie Wagaman (12) got some help from the clarinet section when she asked Michael Newman (12) to prom.

“Michael hinted that we should go to prom together, but the elephant in the room was the promposal,” said Wagaman. “So, being the non-traditional lady that I am, I promposed to him, because I’m a giving person and I like planning things like that for my friends.”

Wagaman gifted Newman a bag of coffee in the promposal, as she knew that Newman liked to drink coffee. Poffenberger knew that his date, Allison Collings (12), also liked cuties oranges, so he got her a bag to go along with his promposal.

Ashley Alfree (9), Kennedy Sauders (9), Sadie Garbinski (9), and Hailey Embree (10) spell out “Prom” for Jackie Wagaman (12) as she asks Michael Newman (12) to prom.

“Make sure that [your promposal] is cute and the person that you’re asking will like it,” Poffenberger said.

Making sure that your date will like their promposal is one of the most important parts, as well as making sure that it’s sincere. Poffenberger also advised having the promposal be something that’s special to the person that you’re asking. The promposal doesn’t have to be one that’s in the middle of the cafeteria during lunch, with balloons and posters. It can be simple and straightforward, as simple as just writing “prom?” on a cup of coffee.

“Sometimes, less is best,” Wagaman said. “Focus on the moment and the person.”

Wagaman also said that by making the moment special and memorable for your date, it will make it memorable for you in turn.

Nick Alfree (11) utilizes a flag to ask his date to prom at the Indoor Color Guard championships.

“I would say just make sure you think about it, but don’t think about it too much,” said Poffenberger.

The basic tips of planning a promposal? Brainstorm with your friends; put your heads together because you’ll be bound to get an idea that works. Make sure that it’s special and memorable for the person you want to ask, and then it’ll be special for you as well. Prompose to them in a way that they’ll appreciate. You don’t want to embarrass them by having a large, public promposal planned if they’d rather have something small and quiet. Finally, don’t stress if it doesn’t turn out perfect; it’s the little quirks and flaws that make moments memorable.


Helping The Community Around Them


  On Thursday April 11, the James Buchanan National Honor Society (NHS took a trip to Cove Valley Christian Camp to help spruce up their camp to get it ready for the upcoming summer.  The work day at Cove Valley marked the first time that the new inductees worked alongside the old inductees to accomplish a clean-up day for the camp.

The shed needing a new coat of paint, Cassidy Martin (12) and new inductee, Cierra Hartman (11) take on the daring task.

  Throughout the day NHS members had several different tasks to accomplish around the camp. A second-year member of the club, Emily Palmerchuck (12), volunteered to help her fellow members split and stack wood for the camp. This was her last time volunteering for NHS.

  “It’s really fulfilling I would say, but it’s also really sad because we were working with a lot of the same students from last year, and we’re just getting to know the new recruits”said Emily Palmerchuck. “It’s really sad that we’re not gonna be able to work with them anymore.”

  The veteran members of the club will be stepping down to graduate on May 31, 2019  and the new members will step up to take the place of the seniors to guide the club into the future.

  “I think they have really started to step up quickly,” said Emily Palmerchuck. “I know some groups in the past have just been a part of it, these new inductees are really putting forth the effort, and you can tell they care about the organization.”

  By shedding some light onto what it’s like to help the community around them, the junior members demonstrate leadership qualities.

  Claire Kriner (11) , a new inductee, volunteered her time at Cove Valley to pick up logs that have been split for firewood.

  “It felt really good,” said Kriner. “It’s hard to believe if we didn’t come today, all the people that were there that helped out at the camp would have had to do it, and that was a lot of work.”

Helping pick up logs to be split into firewood is Kristen Louder (12) helping along are her teammates.

  Splitting and stacking wood, painting the shed, picking up sticks, and raking the flower bed were the tasks for the members. The clean up was all possible with the help of the Cove Valley Christian Camp volunteers that guided them along throughout the day. As the senior members will graduate in May, the new inductees will continue this journey into their senior year by advancing their hours from their junior year to volunteer more around the community, as well as trying to make an impact within the school district.

Eliminating Fear With Steps of Hope


In a small community, a large number of people are impacted by cancer. Whether it is themselves who are affected or the people around them, many lives are changed by the disease. To support the many people in our small town who have been challenged by the trials of cancer, the community gathered at the Mercersburg Academy on Feb. 17, 2019, from 1-7 P.M. to participate in the Relay for Life.


The Relay for Life is a fundraiser done in communities to benefit the American Cancer Society. The event should last

To start off Relay for Life, survivors and current fighters of cancer walked the first lap.

from 6-24 hours, and everyone is asked to walk laps around the track the whole time, signifying how cancer never sleeps.


Many people relay for personal reasons. The event allows them to have a time where they can share their experiences with people who have similar experiences.


“I relay for my grandma who is currently battling ovarian cancer and is hopefully in remission; my mom who had cervical cancer, and my brother’s dad who died from leukemia,” said Shaelyn Kaiser (12).


For other students, instead of walking, they preferred a behind the scenes approach with setting up relay.


“Our motivation was that most of our friends and family members were affected by cancer,” said Alexis Keith (12). “We just thought it was a good idea to raise money for them.”


Throughout Relay, there were many events that took place. Many of them were light-hearted, such as Zumba, Minute-

At Relay for Life, there were many activities throughout the event. During one lap, Seniors Shaelyn Kaiser, Olivia Harmon, Lindsay Ambrisco, Cass Martin, and Maggie Strawoet did Zumba.

to-Win-It, sending people to jail, and rounds were people born in each decade would take a lap. While there were fun events, there were also serious ones that led the focus to the real reason everyone was there: eliminating cancer.


The event opened with Mr. Doug Hoffman telling the crowd about his past experience with cancer, and his current experience. As the event continued, many people bought luminaries for their loved ones who have suffered or fallen to cancer. In the middle of the event, the Luminaria Ceremony began.


As the crowd stood in the dark, the speaker read a poem about cancer being like a birthday cake with twelve candles, each one representing a month that was spent without their loved one. As each month was read, a luminaria was lit. At the end of the speech, everyone was encouraged to go light their loved ones luminaria. After the room was lit up by the array of luminaries, the attendees took silent laps around the track in honor of all of the people afflicted by the deadly disease.


Relay inspired hope, but one of its purposes was to raise money to donate to cancer research. James Buchanan High School decided to raise money through a Mr. Relay Pageant, where the school’s boys went through comical pageant events.


“The pageant was our way to raise the money. We ended [up] raising a lot more than we expected to,” said Keith.


At the end of the Relay week, the pageant raised approximately $800 and the actual Relay for Life over $28,000, with donations still coming in, that was given to the American Cancer Society.


With many people being diagnosed and affected by cancer every day, our community took Relay for Life by the reigns and raised money to abolish the disease for once and for all.

$10, 621,683.76 Raised


The 6th Annual “Festival Of Lights”

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  • Awards for the Keystone Kids

    Off Campus

    Awards for the Keystone Kids

  • A Community of Sound

    Off Campus

    A Community of Sound

  • Concerns Regarding Montgomery Elementary

    Off Campus

    Concerns Regarding Montgomery Elementary

  • Puerto Rican Paradise


    Puerto Rican Paradise

  • The ap chemistry class poses for a picture on the playground at St. Thomas Elementary. Carlee Jackson (11), Tanner Myers (11), Jordan Harbold (11), Alyssa Blair (12), Daniel Corcoran (12), Trenton Morgan (12), Amanda Sensinger (11), Dale MIller (12), Mackenzie Saunders (11), Alyssa Velasquez-Glant (12), Kayla Noll-Bader (12), Ella Jones (12), and Abby Carbaugh (12)

    Off Campus

    Science Days

  • Spring Has Sprung At One North Coffee Shop

    Off Campus

    Spring Has Sprung At One North Coffee Shop

  • Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Id Like To Go To Prom With You


    Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, I’d Like To Go To Prom With You

  • Helping The Community Around Them

    Off Campus

    Helping The Community Around Them

  • Eliminating Fear With Steps of Hope


    Eliminating Fear With Steps of Hope

  • $10, 621,683.76 Raised

    Off Campus

    $10, 621,683.76 Raised

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