The Rocket Flame

A Louder Finale


If you went to James Buchanan Middle School, chances are you saw Mr. Gary Louder (Faculty) at least once. The 2018-2019 school year is the last year you’ll see Louder, though. After 35 years in the Tuscarora School District, Louder is retiring at the end of the school year.

As a graduate of Altoona Area High School, he stayed local for his first two years of college. He attended Penn State’s Altoona campus for his first two years, then transferred to the main campus to finish his studies. After graduating from Penn State with a Bachelor’s in Music Education, he first began teaching in Oneonta, New York before returning to his home state to teach for a couple years in Potter County, Pennsylvania.

“After starting my teaching career, I went back to Penn State during the summers and received my Master’s Degree in Music Education,” Louder said.

After leaving Potter County, Louder was interviewed for an opening at JBMS. The opening was for the seventh- and eighth-grade Band director, which he was then hired for. For the beginning of his career at the middle school, that was all that he taught, but as the years progressed, he took on more duties.

“For the past eleven years, I have directed the Middle School Orchestra,” said Louder, “and for the past nine years, the sixth-grade Band.”

Louder conducts the high school Band as they play “Liberty March.”

It’s not just the middle school that Louder teaches at, though. For the past two years, Louder has been teaching elementary band lessons. He also served at the assistant high school band director for seventeen years.

“The Mummer’s Parade and the Apple Blossom Parade are our two big trips for the year,” Louder said. “However, the band also marches at the Mercersburg Halloween Parade and the Mercersburg and St. Thomas Memorial Day Parades, as well as participating in the Homecoming Parade.”

With parades every year and thirty-five years in Tuscarora alone, many memories are made. Louder’s favorite memory with the JBMS Band is when they were selected as the Junior Royalty Parade Honor Band for the 2010 Buckhannon, West Virginia Strawberry Festival. They traveled by coach bus, spent Friday and Saturday marching in parades, and toured the West Virginia University football and basketball venues on the way back.

“Another memorable trip was when the band marched in a 4th of July parade in downtown Washington, D.C., representing Mercersburg as one of the birthplaces of an American president,” said Louder.

Louder has represented Mercersburg in surrounding states, but he’s also active in the musical community of Mercersburg.

“Out of school, I have been director of the Mercersburg Area Community Band for the last 14 years,” Louder said.

Louder speaks during his time on stage.

Once summer rolls around and Louder has officially retired, he will still be directing the Mercersburg Area Community Band. As Louder leaves the school, he offers advice to new teachers.

“Find a school district where you feel comfortable and determine what age group fits your personality and teaching talents,” said Louder.

Alongside his regular summer routine of directing, Louder plans to vacation at the seashore. He also looks forward to having free time to do what he wants, when he wants. However, he also still has duties at home.

“If this summer is anything like last year, I’ll spend the rest of the summer mowing my lawn,” said Louder.

With Louder’s 35 years in Tuscarora School District, plus more in other school districts, he has inspired hundreds of students to continue playing music after they’ve left him at the middle school.


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.


Singing, Dancing, and Vanilla Ice Cream – Oh My!

She Loves Me

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?


February is the time of love thanks to Valentine’s Day. There’s another type of love in the air at James Buchanan High School—the love of music.

Planning for the Rocket Band’s “I Love Music” concert starts as far back as November at the end of marching season. Students received a selection of music, which was narrowed down as the concert approached. Even though the Band works on the music every day from the end of marching season, the band director, Mrs. Sheryl Deike (Faculty), chose to fill the February concert with easy music because it runs the risk of being snowed out and cancelled.

“My February concert is different from my May concert,” said Deike. “My February concert, if it gets snowed out, you know, I don’t want to put a lot of time and effort into music that we don’t get to play.”

Carly Ashway (11), Ashley Grove (12), and Nathan Walls (12) hold out a low note during “The Pacific.”

The February 14, 2019 “I Love Music” concert had a total of four songs, all of which came from a movie, musical, or TV show. The concert opened with a medley of songs from The Lion King, including “Circle of Life,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” “Hakuna Matata,” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”

“I try to pick things that we kind of enjoy playing, nothing really heavy that’s fun and enjoyable for the crowd that comes out,” Deike said.

The crowd is something Deike always takes into account when choosing music. She doesn’t choose classical pieces that are so “off the wall” that the audience wouldn’t recognize them or enjoy it, hence the inclusion of The Lion King.

“I ask the seniors if there’s a song they would like to bring back,” said Deike, “or a couple songs that they would like to bring back, kind of like their finale.”

Jacob Troupe (11) and Dylan Parker (9) pause during a measure of rest.

“Selections from Phantom of the Opera” (dubbed “Phantom” for short by the band) is another piece loved by the Band. It was also the song that the graduating class of 2019 chose to bring back. It serves as a swan song of sorts, a callback to their time as sophomores, when they last performed it. The piece, like “Lion King” is a medley of songs from the musical, The Phantom of the Opera. It included the titular number and the famous scream when the Phantom removes his mask, this year performed by Zach Slodysko (11).

“It was exhilarating,” said Slodysko when asked what it was like doing the scream. “I felt like a little kid again.”

Bringing back childhood memories with medlies such as “The Lion King” and “How to Train Your Dragon,” as well as high school memories for upperclassmen with “Phantom,” the band gave a lovely performance at their February concert, despite being at a disadvantage due to two snow days prior to the performance.

A Royal Night


200 little princesses from four kingdoms—St. Thomas, Montgomery, Mountain View, and Mercersburg—arrived with their royal escorts to a ball held at James Buchanan High School. Little girls from the four elementary schools were accompanied by their fathers at the first daddy-daughter dance hosted by the Rocket Band.

On December 14, the James Buchanan High School band hosted a fundraising event in the form of a dance for girls in elementary school. The mastermind behind the night, band director Mrs. Sheryl Deike (Faculty) said she got the idea for a daddy-daughter dance from her daughter.

“My oldest daughter did it down in Appomattox, Virginia,” said Deike. “They didn’t do any pre-sales, they just advertised it, thinking maybe, you know, twenty or thirty [fathers and daughters would come]. They said the gym was filled.”

Deike did not expect to have the same large turnout as her daughter. By selling tickets ahead of time, Deike expected to have a few more fathers and daughters, but not enough to fill the cafeteria, where the dance was held.

“50, maybe 75 tops,” Deike said. “It came out to 200 hundred kids.”

Using the people at her disposal, Deike enlisted percussion instructor Michael Seville to D.J.

200 daughters meant 200 fathers, the only ones that had to pay for a ticket. The daughters got in free, and dads paid five dollars. In ticket sales alone, the band brought in $1,000, plus what they made from dads buying the snacks and carnations that were for sale. Aside from earning money for music programs, Deike wanted to bring the community together.

“I just wanted to do something sweet for the community,” said Deike. “I thought it was a nice idea.”

Along with having the dance for the community, Deike wanted everyone to see the Band.

“I guess it was a selfish thing, trying to get kids or people coming up to the high school to see us,” said Deike. “We’re not just about making music.”

Kennedy Saunders (9), Dawson Green (12), Sadie Garbinski (9), and Emily Horst (10) hand out punch and pretzels.

The dance was staffed entirely by Band students that volunteered to help out, as well as instructors. Band members ran games for the girls in the band room and played Frozen in the auditorium. Others ran snack tables in the lobby, giving out free punch and pretzels and selling bags of chips, cookies, and candy.

Deike already has plans to hold an event for mothers and sons in the spring. She also plans to hold another daddy-daughter dance next year. According to Deike, the daddy-daughter dance is the band’s “golden nugget.” It’s the special fundraiser they do that’s specific to them, but it also gives little princesses from Tuscarora School District’s four elementary schools a special evening with their fathers.


The History of the Armistice


You’ve probably heard someone say, “It’s 11:11, make a wish!” The number 11 is supposed to be lucky. To the soldiers fighting in World War I, it was.

World War I began in 1914 following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austria-Hungarian throne, according to Robert Green’s book, World War I. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia (where the assassins were from), and their allies were pulled into the fight. This began the Great War, initially only involving Eurasian countries.

The war raged on, involving more and more countries. The United States, under Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, chose to remain neutral for three years. They provided weapons, equipment, and other supplies to both sides of the war—the Allies and the Central Powers.

Following the sinking of a passenger ship, the RMS Lusitania, and the Zimmerman Telegram, citizens of the United States pushed Woodrow Wilson to join the war. He met with Congress to request a declaration of war. According to Stewart Ross’s book, World War I, Congress agreed on April 6, 1917. The United States was now involved in the war.

The United States joined the war opposing Austria-Hungary and Germany. The U.S. sided with the Allies, which included Great Britain, France, Serbia, Italy, and Russia (before they withdrew from the war).

A little over a year later, the Central Powers were starting to crumble. According to Green, the Austrians surrendered to the Italians, the Hungarians dissociated themselves from Austria, and the Allies moved in on Germany. The German army held strong, but Kaiser Wilhelm II didn’t.

On November 10, 1918, the last emperor of Germany fled to the Netherlands, according to Green. The remaining government of Germany met with the Allies the following day.

Ross, Stewart. World War I. World Almanac Library, 2005.

“At 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918, Germany and the Allies signed an armistice that brought all hostilities to an end,” Stewart Ross wrote in his book, World War I.

November 11 became known as Armistice Day and was celebrated as marking the end of the Great War. Peace conferences began in January of the following year, 1919. In these conferences, President Wilson proposed his Fourteen Points, which included an international peacekeeping organization, the League of Nations.

The terms of the Treaty of Versailles and other treaties signed following the end of World War I were humiliating for the losing side, according to Ross. These humiliating terms led to World War II twenty years later, where the United States was pulled into the war again once it was in full swing.

Wars that followed World War I included the second World War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, among others. Within these wars, many lives were lost. This is why Armistice Day would eventually become known as Veterans’ Day. It still falls on November 11, but now it serves as a day to remember soldiers that lost their lives in the wars, as well as men and women currently serving.

November 11, 2018 marks a hundred years since the signing of the armistice. Around the world, countries held events to honor the end of World War I and those that died fighting in it. In Washington D.C., there was a parade celebrating the hundred years that have passed since the Great War ended.

The signing of the armistice meant an end to bloody battles, where soldiers risked their lives living in muddy trenches. At 11 a.m. on November 11, the bloody battles ceased. The soldiers could leave the war behind, returning to being civilians instead. Maybe the end to the war was their 11:11 wish.


She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not


For years, the James Buchanan Drama Club has followed the same pattern in terms of what type of show they put on in the spring: musical, play, musical, play, musical, musical. Wait, two musicals in a row?

This year, the JBHS Drama Club is trying something new: two musicals in two years, back to back. Last year, a titanic-sized cast brought the historical tragedy to life on stage with Titanic; but the drama department decided to do the exact opposite this year. In the spring of 2019, students will be performing a romantic comedy with a small cast entitled She Loves Me.

“I choose shows that people have likely never seen or even heard about,” said Mr. Luke Spurgeon (Faculty), the director of the drama department. “They come in with no expectations, nothing to compare us to, and we get to be the best they have ever seen! She Loves Me is one of those shows!”

Spurgeon tries to change up the genre each year, challenging the cast to “be multi-talented” by having them act in a myriad of different scenarios, from drama to suspense to comedy, and finally, romance. Once the show was decided upon and announced, the audition date was set. Auditions took place over two days, Sept. 24 and 25, with the cast list coming out the following day. Those that auditioned crowded around Spurgeon as he posted the list to the door of the chorus room.

“I am so honored,” said Emily Palmerchuck (12), who was cast as the female lead, Amalia Balash. “I am so excited to start working ‘cause it’s a great show.”

Once the cast list was out and the leads were announced, it was time for the table read, where the cast got together for the first time and read through the script. The table read was kicked off by Palmerchuck bringing vanilla ice cream for the cast in honor of the song “Vanilla Ice Cream.” Palmerchuck said that her favorite part of the table read was seeing the choices made by the other actors for how they portray their characters.

“I think just hearing how each actor interpreted their lines because we all had our own way of looking at them and how we would say them,” said Palmerchuck.

Ella Heckman (11) and Rose Runyan (12) are always ready to bust some moves.

The cast learned the same lines and the same songs to audition, so everyone had their own interpretation of scenes going into auditions and the table read. Spurgeon played the soundtrack when the script called for musical numbers, but many of the cast already knew some of the songs, singing along to a recording. After making it through the table read, the She Loves Me cast has music practices in November and December.

Palmerchuck said, “Then, we get into the full swing of things starting in January.”

Starting in January, the cast will have practices every week to learn the show. They memorize their lines and begin to work out how they perform the scene on stage. Palmerchuck looks forward to staging scenes between her character, Amalia, and the other lead, Georg Nowack, who is portrayed by Jacob Troupe (11).

“I think I’m most looking forward to staging the scene in the shop where Kodaly sings “Illona,”” said Spurgeon.

Kodaly, who is portrayed by Dean King (11), tries to win back his girlfriend, Illona (Allison Collings (12)), after she gets mad at him. Most of the cast already know each other from being in previous productions of the drama department.

“A lot of us know each other already,” said Palmerchuck, “and we’re all very passionate about the show, which is, of course, part of the reason we got the roles we did. I just think it’s going to be a good time, everyone’s going to put in the work, everyone’s going to support each other.”

All of that work will pay of in mid-March, when the musical will be performed. Spurgeon predicts that the audience will leave the show with any of the songs stuck in their heads, but he would like to hear people humming the opening number when they leave.

“[Kodaly] sings the song trying to woo her back…” – Mr. Luke Spurgeon.

“I really want people to leave singing the ‘She Loves Me’ song because it’s the namesake,” said Palmerchuck. “It’s such a big song, it’s such a good song.”

Palmerchuck also thinks that the audience will leave the show “singing the goodbye song as people are leaving the shop,” as it is sung multiple times throughout the musical. With auditions over and the table read completed, it won’t be long until the show is staged and ready to be performed. Grab your vanilla ice cream and a dear friend and come see She Loves Me, as performed by the JBHS Drama Club, in March of 2019.

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