The Rocket Flame

Teachers Furthering Their Education


Most people believe that once you earn your degree from college, you are done with schooling. While this may be true for some jobs, teachers at James Buchanan are encouraged and even required to further their education.


“There’s a thing called ACT 48… school districts [in Pennsylvania] require you on top of that to get a Master’s or Master’s equivalent,” said Mrs. Kayla Chambers (Faculty).


Many teachers take classes to get either their Master’s degree or Master’s equivalent. A Master’s equivalent is when you take the number of credits for a Master’s degree, but do not actually have the degree. Act 48 requires that anyone who holds a Pennsylvania certification to continue their education requirements. They must do this every five years to helps ensure that teachers maintain their certificates in active status and keep up-to-date on the criteria.


“It helps me manage time… It also keeps me on task,” said Ms. Angi Johnson (Faculty).


The criteria taught helps teachers plan better and helps them with ideas on how to instruct students differently. It will also help keep teaching relevant to the things that are happening and changing within their major. Depending on how they apply their knowledge to their classroom, teachers can help lead their students towards greater success.


“It presents challenges, but challenges are good,” said Johnson.


Teachers are given the challenge to have a full-time job and teach throughout the work day, but also take classes to further their education. They must balance multiple duties at once to make sure that both they and their students are taught what they need to pass. If it presents difficulty, teachers are given the choice to take their classes over the summer instead of throughout the school year.


“I’m really excited [about taking more college courses] because it’s teaching, and I’m always excited to be a better teacher,” said Mrs. Breanna Grove (Faculty).


Teachers not only teach you, but they are also getting taught by someone else, who serves as a mentor. They are applying what they learned in their classes to their own classroom, helping to greater the success of them and their students. It also helps them make more money, making it even more of an incentive for them to take these courses.


The Benefits of AP Testing

The Benefits of AP Testing

As the school year comes to an end, most students are preparing for finals. Many students in Advanced Placement classes, though, are preparing to take one or more of the AP exams offered by the school. While taking advanced classes can be challenging, it has its benefits.


AP classes can be easily compared to introductory college classes. Princeton Magazine says,“They [AP classes] are fast-paced, cover more material than regular classes, and require independent work like research and analysis.”


By having high school courses comparable to introductory college courses, it can help students with the transition from high school to college work.


When colleges look at the AP courses you took in high school, they see that you have the ability to take college courses and that you have what it takes to be in an undergraduate setting.  


“When admissions officers see “AP” on your transcript, they know that what you experienced in a particular class has prepared you well for the challenges of college,” says “Work Toward College Success” by the College Board.


AP courses not only help your transition into college, but also can help you get college credit. Standing out in a college application can give you a better chance of getting accepted into that college, and also make you stand out more for academic scholarships. “Most colleges and universities nationwide offer college credit… for qualifying AP Exam scores,” says “Discover the Benefits of AP” by the College Board.


The AP test scores range from one to five, with five being the highest score; colleges will accept a minimum score for it to transfer to a college class. This means that if your college accepts your score, you can test out of a college class. College courses can cost thousands of dollars, not including books, but if you take and pass the AP test, you’re only spending $93, which saves money compared to the cost of college course credits.


While AP courses can seem very stressful, and include a lot of school and homework, taking AP courses offers a lot more to students than general courses can. They can test out of college courses, as well as better prepare them for their college workload.



Something new offered to James Buchanan last year by Mrs. Breanna Grove (Faculty) was the aspect of intramural sports. In these sports, students form their own teams and compete during Activity Period twice a week. They compete in “tournament-style” games where their team is placed in a bracket; the team who wins the most games wins the tournament.


The Intramural sports offered have been limited to dodgeball currently, but Grove plans to expand in the future.

Logan Knable (12) prepares to throw a dodgeball at the opposing team while team member, Junior Tomasello (10), tries to catch a thrown ball.

“Whenever I was getting interviewed for this position, I brought up the idea of intramurals, so we wanted to try it here,” said Grove.


When Grove was hired, she wanted every student in James Buchanan, no matter the athletic ability, to have the opportunity to participate in a school sport and be active. At the schools where she student-taught, they played intramurals there and she wanted to try something new at James Buchanan.


“They [intramurals] are more students who want to participate in sports, but not varsity sports,” said Grove.


Intramurals aren’t as much of a commitment as varsity sports are. As well as only being twice a week during school hours, they also are no-cut sports. By having no cuts, it relieves the students of stress they may have for trying out for the sports. Students don’t have to worry about making a team as they are already guaranteed to be a participant if they turn in their team form before the sport starts.


“I really like that we can form our own teams with friends and play against other students in our school,” said Lizzie Pittman (12).


Intramural sports also takes away the competitive aspect that varsity sports have. They allow students to play amongst their peers and form their own teams, making the sports less competitive and makes it more enjoyable for all of the students.


“Even if you don’t want to play, we allow students to come in the gym and watch,” said Grove.

Hunter Dysinger (11) gets ready to to throw a dodgeball at opposing team member, Kolby Daley (11).

Anybody can come down and watch their peers play Intramurals. The students cheer and encourage the teams, making it more enjoyable for the players.


“When other schools do Intramurals they get a good response from them,” said Grove.


The Intramurals at James Buchanan have so far received a good response whether they be from the player or spectators. Grove hopes to continue doing more intramurals in the future as well as broadening the sports offered.


A Day In the Life Of Mr. Poe


When you think of your teachers, you probably think of them staying in one classroom, teaching the same class throughout the day, but that’s not the case for Mr. Eric Poe (Faculty).

For eleven years, Poe has been the James Buchanan High School’s Chorus teacher. Throughout his day he travels to three different schools, teaches five different classes, and instructs kids ranging from fifth to twelfth grade.

To be able to teach his students, Poe has to be “performing” at all times. He has to sing in his vocal classes to teach proper techniques and demonstrate how to sing the notes properly, as well as be able to play the trumpet and piano for his music theory and elementary band classes. Even when he’s not having a good day or not feeling well, he still has to perform and be at his best to be able to teach his students.

Starting out his day on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Poe reports with Messa Voce, a special choral group, to the high school at 7:15 AM. At this time, they rehearse chamber, more classical repertoire, and popular, or “pop” music. The popular music they put to choreography.

First period, Poe teaches high school Chorus. During this period, some students have band, so he and Mrs. Sheryl Deike (Faculty) have to trade the students off every other day, having a “full Band” one day, and “full Chorus” the next. Here, they practice music for their Chorus concerts.

Messa Voce returns to Poe second period. Most days, he mainly focuses on Messa Voce, but on Wednesday he rehearses with the Five-Point Band, Messa Voce’s music ensemble.

Everybody in Messa Voce is encouraged to try out for District Chorus, and most make it to County Chorus. Since these activities are at the beginning of the year, during that time they mainly focus on the music for that appropriate activity. When not working on that, they’re working on their concert music.

Third period, Poe teaches AP Music Theory. This class involves teaching students the mechanics of music. He teaches notation to his students, as well as ear training, to get them prepared for the AP test at the end of the year.

Period four, Poe not only has his lunch period, but also his planning period. While simultaneously eating his lunch, he also sends emails, writes his lesson plans, and completes anything else he needs to before 

he heads down to the middle school around 12:30 PM. By getting there early, he has to have enough time to prepare the auditorium and get organized before his students come.

“There’s a lot of different things happening during that period [middle school activity period], so it’s hard to get the students to our practice,” said Poe.

At the middle school, Poe teaches not only seventh and eighth grade Chorus, but also sixth grade Chorus. Like the high school, the middle school Chorus period also has Band that happens at the same time. In addition, this period serves as a free period for students to do make-up work and attend other clubs. Sometimes Chorus only gets to meet once a week, and with everybody asking to leave and signing out, it takes up around ten minutes of his period, making it go from forty to thirty minutes. At times, this period is one of the most stressful times of his day, according to Poe.

Around 2:15 PM, Poe heads either to Mountain View or St. Thomas Elementary schools to teach Beginners’ Band. He brings his trumpet along to show students how to play the different rhythms and what the notes should sound like. Many of his students ask how to play the notes and the correct finger positioning of them. At 3:15 PM, his students are picked up and he is able to go home.

Poe’s crazy schedule at times leaves him stressed and exhausted to a point where he does not have the time to help teachers out as much as he’d like

“I’m not complaining, I just want my colleagues to understand,” said Poe.

Although Poe has a crazy, busy day, he gets satisfaction from being able to teach so many kids and bringing music into their lives.


The Effect of Social Media Use on Teens

The Effect of Social Media Use on Teens

Social media allows us to share ideas and creations with others, network, and be able to show expressions of our personality. With the current popular platforms teens have been using, they are able to form new relationships with others, share pictures that they took, and update people on their lives. While in theory social media is great place to partake in all of these activities, teens that are active on these sites can be at a greater risk for anxiety and depression.


The number of hours of screen time you are active on social media can affect your mental health.


An article posted in Clinical Psychological Science took a nationally represented survey of children in grades 8 to 12 and national suicide statistics from ages 13 to 18, and they found that children who are more active on social media were more likely to report their mental health concerns.


The number of social media sites you are on can also set you at a greater risk.


A study was published in Computers in Human Behavior that found the use of various social media sites is strongly associated with depression. This study concluded that teens who are on seven or more social media sites had a three times more likely risk of getting depression, and kids that are on two or less sites had a lesser risk.


When scrolling through social media, it causes teens to see “perfect” images that others post, causing them the pressure of wanting and feeling like they have to be like them. They feel pressure to have perfect photos and well-written posts like the posts they see, which can cause a great deal of anxiety. Girls are mainly susceptible to this due to them wanting to compare themselves to others to develop their identities.


A survey conducted in the UK in the Royal Society for Public Health asked kids ages 14-24 how social media platforms affected their mental health. The study concluded that social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram all led to increased feelings of depression, poor body image, and loneliness.


Whenever kids make friendships over social media, they can become too emotionally invested in them, and never get a chance to recollect themselves. Without a break you can get emotionally depleted, causing anxiety to appear more easily.


“Whatever we think of the ‘relationships’ maintained and in some cases initiated on social media, kids never get a break from them,” says Dr. Wick in the article How Using Social Media Affects Teenagers by Rachel Ehmke. Dr. Wick continues to say, “These days he might just disappear from your screen, and you never get to have the ‘What did I do?’ conversation.”


Due to being ignored, the “what did I do thought” will remain in their head, causing anxiety. This can lead to them thinking the worst about themselves which puts them at a greater risk for depression.


Social media not only can affect the way we think but can also affect the way we sleep.


Another study conducted in the UK published in the Journal of Youth Studies took 900 kids around 12-15 years old and surveyed them about their social media use. What they found was that one-fifth of the teens said they “almost always” wake up during the night and log in to social media. Kids need more sleep than adults, and with them waking up in the middle of the night to check their social media causes them to not get the sleep they need. This can be detrimental to their health, mentally and physically. The lack of sleep can make them more irritable, as well as lower their immune system causing them to be more susceptible to illness.


The human brain develops so much during the teenage years, and if you are constantly on social media, it can impact that growth. Being on these sites often can cause poor communication skills, lower your self esteem, and in the end, raise your stakes for being at risk for mental health concerns.


“Offline, the gold standard advice for helping kids build healthy self-esteem is to get them involved in something that they’re interested in,” says Sherri Gordon in the article, 5 Ways Social Media Affects Teen Mental Health.

If you get yourself involved in something you are interested in, it will boost your self esteem.

Sherri Gordon then continues to state, “When kids learn to feel good about what they can do instead of how they look and what they own, they’re happier and better prepared for success in real life.” This will help reduce their risk of feelings of anxiety and depression.

One Last Run


Being involved in many activities inside and outside of school can be difficult to manage, but that does not keep Jarrett Iverson (12) from making time to better his performance in running. Not only does he run for Cross Country, but also is a part of the school’s marching band and his church’s worship team. Having done this for all four years of his high school career, Iverson has learned a lot about responsibility, and his experience helps him motivate his teammates.


“When I played football in middle school, I realized I wasn’t really good at the football part but was good at the running part,” said Iverson.


Iverson first joined the James Buchanan Cross Country team his freshman year. Having never run that much before, his body wasn’t used to that kind of physical activity. He was barely able to keep up with his team members in summer training and the first few weeks of the season until his body fully adjusted.


“This year was kind of a rebuilding year for us. We lost a lot of seniors […] and also a good coach last year. So with a new coach, Mrs. Grove, and with a lot of new members, it was certainly a building year this year,” said Iverson.


Having a new coach and new members there was a need for more extra motivation and teaching. During his four years of running, Iverson had to face obstacles such as learning proper form and breathing technique. As team members would face these kinds of obstacles, he would use his prior experience to teach the team how to face and overcome them.

In the midst of running the Clear Spring Invitational, Jarrett Iverson (12) pushes on to try and pass his opponent.

“Leadership-wise I think I have a sense of moral responsibility during the cross country season to keep my grades up and motivate my team in and out of school,” said Iverson.

Iverson has not only improved his running technique and form over his high-school career, but also has improved his leadership abilities, responsibility, and mental fortitude. Having to balance all of his activities on top of school work was a large obstacle, but helped him in gaining these skills. Iverson wants his team to improve in these areas as well.


“Running is 10% physical and 90% mental, so if you’re trying to run better, yes you should focus on your diet and form and running and everything, but more than that, you need to focus on perseverance and staying mentally strong,” said Iverson.


Iverson believes that his success is due to his mental perseverance and fortitude, not just his running ability. Anybody can run, but the hard part is telling yourself that you can run for that long without stopping.


“…I can only see [the team] improving next year with Coach Stan and Mrs. Grove getting more experience and all the underclassmen knowing how the sport works now,” said Iverson.


Nearing the end of his 2018 season, Iverson was one of five to make districts. He has high hopes for the team next year and believes that they can only improve from where they are now.

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Abby Carbaugh