The Rocket Flame

A Covid Return To School

The year 2020 wasn’t what anyone expected and going back to school was one of the biggest challenges. When returning back to school we were not greeted by smiles because they were covered by masks and although we were back together we are still separated by a distance of six feet. We are also split up by the A and B schedule of one day online and the other day in school. Senior Kierra Griffith comments on the A and B schedule saying, “Everything is disorganized with the online days and some teachers add a lot more work to do than others and the work is on different platforms.” With this unknown year ahead of us there are concerns from many students about masks, sports, and dislikes of the new rules. 

A big thing for JB students is sports and their fans. Stands would be packed with fans cheering on our teams but now only those who have a ticket can get in to watch. Contact sports have to change so there would be little to no contact with the players. Senior soccer player Kadenn Martin commented, “We can’t touch each other when we play, which is hard because it is a contact sport.” Off the fields and courts masks are required and before players can even begin to play they must get their temperature taken and answer a series of questions.

Many students have mixed feelings about the rules we have to follow in order to have a safe school experience. In classrooms there is a smaller number of students in each class. More work is done on your own because you can not do a lot of partner work due to social distancing. During Kadenn Martin’s interview she explains how there are smaller class sizes and how everyone is spread out. Even though there are smaller classes and everyone is spaced out we still have to wear a mask the entire time. Junior Ashley Alfree says, “Mask breaks are greatly appreciated.” The only time we can take our masks off is during our ten minute mask breaks and at lunch while we are eating. Overall, a lot of students do not like wearing masks and having to be socially distanced from their friends. 

Despite all of the challenges students have been facing so far this school year we are still hoping for a great year. The teachers and principals have worked hard to still provide the students with a great year on a somewhat normal basis. On a positive outlook students are excited that we will be going back to school all together on November 5. 


Pinning to the Top


On Feb. 21 and 22, five of the James Buchanan wrestlers went on to compete in Districts at Susquenita High School. These wrestlers included Shaun Reed (12), Hunter Smith (11), Logan Miller (11), Nathan Brake (9), and Hayden Shirk (9). 

Then, on Feb. 28th and 29th, Hayden Shirk participated in the second round of Districts. Shirk previously won his two matches the weekend before, leading him to Regionals.

Sending five boys to compete in this tournament and then a freshman making it to the second round was a huge improvement upon last year.

Making the podium, Shirk places 5th overall.

“We’re used to having three or four boys on the team, and this year we were able to put 12 on the mat,” said Coach Derek Straley.

Shirk and the other wrestlers have been in the mat room every day after school, practicing and watching their weight as that is a key factor in their performance. Even after all the winter sports were over, the boys continued to work every day.

Wrestling at practice, Hayden Shirk (9) prepares for Districts.

Reed, Smith, Miller, and Brake all were defeated in the first rounds in their weight class. However, Shirk went 4-2 and is continuing onto Regionals.  A big accomplishment for him over the weekend, was beating a senior he lost to two weeks ago at sectionals. 

“The main thing is getting out on bottom and taking and finishing the shots as well,” said Shirk.

He worked on techniques and improving his tactics for Regionals. Even though the other four boys did not progress past the first round of Districts, all of them continued to go to practice to keep working and prepare for next season. 

Shirk lost both matches during Regionals. This ended his wrestling for the season, but it was a successful season.

“Districts and Regionals went well but next year I hope to go farther in the rounds,” said Shirk.

All boys and coaches will be working to put all the wrestlers in Districts. With having much more District-qualifiers this year, they’re aiming for some boys to also make it to states.


New Coaches, New Attitude


Usually, a new coach for a team, creates a new attitude and goals for the season, this year the entire basketball program created new attitudes and goals. 

With the retirement of both girls’ and boys’ coaches last year, this left an opening for two new head coaching position. Coach Rebecca Miller (Faculty) and Coach Matt Piper were chosen for the jobs, both previously being Assistant Varsity Coaches.

“It is very challenging being a head coach, because it isn’t just about coaching one team,” said Miller. “There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes that you do that isn’t just on the basketball court.”

Most people think being the head coach is being the coach to one single team, but there’s much more than that. Having the head coach position, that means you also have to be paying attention to the middle school teams and even the elementary kids. Also adjustments and goals have to be made to better the team.

“We’re talking more about building a family and a unit,” said Piper.

The main goal for the coaches, was to do more than win games, but it was to grow as a team and become a family. Both teams have done things on and off the court to become closer.

During a timeout, Coach Piper encourages the boys to finish the game with a win.

“Everybody needs to have fundamentals and if you make your players be good basketball players, then it doesn’t really matter what plays you run,” said Miller.

With changes in the program and teams, the attitude for the players should not. Changing plays and positions is helpful, but the main idea is to just have good fundamentals and be a good ball player. 

“This season we are going to play hard and play harder as a team,coming in every day and doing our best,” said Piper.

Both coaches remain hopeful to become higher in their league and better not only the teams, but they program. 

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.

A Jamboree to the End of the School Year.


Playing some jenga, Sadie Garbinski (9), Ashley Alfree (9), Colby Starr (10), and Kaanan Hissong (10) work to not knock down the stack.

Boys’ and Girls’ Track & Field First Home Match of the Season


Julia Trei

Taking off, Broden Green (10) keeps his place in the lead.

















                                  Teachers Take on Bucket Lists


                                  Do you have a list of all the things you want to do in your life before a certain time? Bucket Lists are activities or goals you want to achieve before the end of a certain time. Many high school students make a bucket list with an abundance of activities.

                                  Someone who might have an opinion or advice on a bucket list could be teachers since they have had more experiences than the students. Some teachers create or still have bucket lists of their own.

                                  “I think it gives the students a goal, something to reach for. Maybe they will look to put themselves to get there one day and become goal-oriented,” said Mrs. Megan Swailes (Faculty).

                                  Morgan Shughart (10) works on her bucket list


                                  With bucket lists, students can think of many things and goals they want to achieve in the future. Bucket lists can be something students look forward to doing and completing.

                                  “It can be beneficial if they put time and effort into it,” said Mr. Robert Harvey (Faculty).

                                  Putting time and effort into a bucket list can teach you to do the same with other things. It is a way for students to learn how to strive and accomplish tasks.

                                  “It gives everyone a motive and something to look forward to doing while making goals,” said Caleb Wise (10)


                                  Holding up the bucket lists they created, Jacob Richard (10), Hunter Smith (10), Kaden Ramsey (10), and Lucas Richard (10) compare theirs.

                                  Bucket lists affect students giving them a passion for things. It gives them hope and accomplishments if you complete what you’re striving to do.


                                  Students are surrounded by teachers and faculty every day, so students should turn to the faculty for advice. Whether it be skydiving or spending a night in a hotel facing the Eiffel Tower, your teachers know what’s important and attainable for you. Don’t be afraid to ask someone on how to achieve the best version of your own bucket list, so that you can live your life to the fullest. 


                                  A Winter Wonderland


                                  On Saturday, Feb. 9 James Buchanan hosted their annual Winter Dance from 7 to 10 p.m. Student Council is the organization responsible for the event, they also organize and plan all the other dances throughout the year. This year, they combined the Winter Dance and the Valentine’s Day Dance with a theme of Winter Wonderland.

                                  “My favorite part about the dance is the theme,” said Taylor Piper (10).

                                  With the theme being Winter Wonderland, Student Council hung light decorations and backdrops with a Winter theme, They also incorporated Valentine’s Day into it as well, using roses and hearts decorations.

                                  “I think Student Council enjoys having fun and being together while they’re working together,” said Mrs. Ann Fitz (Faculty).

                                  Student Council starts preparing for the dance early that morning at 9 a.m. until the students start crowding in that night.

                                  With Student Council being responsible for the dance, it makes them accountable for things like the decorations, selling tickets, the DJ, and making sure there is student participation

                                  “It gives the student body a wholesome opportunity to be together and have fun outside of school hours,” says Fitz.

                                  SInging, Taylor Piper (10), Brianna Cole (10), and Breanna Dukehart (11) lead the crowd

                                  While the participation isn’t as teeming with students like Homecoming or Prom, it is a dance for students to come and enjoy the night together.

                                  The dance started at 7 p.m. and as the doors opened, students created a very prolonged line to enter the cafeteria, where the dance occurred. After a little while, all of the students in various grades were found dancing together in the middle of the floor.

                                  The DJ also included himself in the night with interacting with the students. He picked out a handful of kids and gave them props to play a little game while dancing with everyone. Continuously talking to the student body trying to get them more rowdied up.

                                  While dancing, students gather for a quick picture.

                                  Many students seemed to enjoy the dance and all the people in it. It was a night for everyone to get dressed up and come together for an event.

                                  Tip-Off to the Season


                                  With teeming bleachers and a roaring crowd, the full gym on a Friday night was anything but quiet. On Dec. 7, the Chambersburg Area Senior High School hosted the annual Tip-Off Tournament for James Buchanan, Greencastle-Antrim, and Waynesboro High School basketball teams for both the boys’ and girls’ to kick off the season. The games began Friday night and continued into Saturday night.

                                  This is a way to kick off the season and helps the teams out in the long run.

                                  “It gives us a good look at the teams we will be facing this season,” says McKayla Heinbaugh (9).

                                  Shooting for the basket, Carly Sollenberger (9) makes a final shot.

                                  The tournament started with the Waynesboro and Greencastle girls playing, which then lead to the Lady Rockets facing the Lady Trojans. With everyone sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the buzzer to go off, the Lady Rockets put up a fight, but the game resulted in a victory for Chambersburg. The students that came cheered them on the entire way. The final score was 59-55. 

                                  The tensions then rose when it was time for the Trojan boys to face the Rockets. With a feuding crowd and lots of energy, people waited to see the outcome of this game.

                                  “We put a lot of effort as a team out there on the court,” says Colton Hartman (10).

                                  The students had high energy supporting their team. The boys stayed strong and kept their heads high, but Chambersburg got the victory with a final score was 61-16.

                                  “The environment was really good and working together as a team was good too,” said Rylan Good (10).

                                  The tournament then continued into Saturday with the Lady Rockets facing off against the Waynesboro Indians. The girls were high in energy, ending up defeating the Indians with a score of 40-26. The Tournament concluded for the girls’ after the Lady Trojans faced the Lady Indians, which resulted in a win for the Indians.

                                  After the girls’ games were finished, the Rockets took the court to battle rival Greencastle. With a very tight and close game, Greencastle got the win with the final score of 37-34. 

                                  Watching the close game, the boys’ focus on their team and getting a win

                                  The tournament concluded with Chambersburg and Waynesboro boys’ played for the championship which resulted in the Waynesboro Indians winning for the boys.  Chambersburg and Greencastle faced off for the ladies and Greencastle came out victorious.

                                  “My favorite part about Tip-Off was being with my team, seeing the crowd, and how much the fans get into the game,” said Colton Hartman (10).

                                  With the first game of the season done and over with, the Rocket Basketball team will continue to work towards bettering their team as a whole, as well as their score.

                                  A Day in the Life of Life Skills: More Than Just A Class


                                  Edward Leevy (10) smiling for a picture while unloading boxes

                                     Throughout the school day, your routine probably consists of doing the same things, but have you ever thought about how some other classes spend their day?

                                    The Life Skills Class routine ranges to something different every day. A couple days a week, a group of kids will go to Mercersburg Academy and help clean up the dining hall. If it is a work day, the students leave after the announcements and help at their assigned area for a couple of hours.

                                    Then, two days a week, the students go to Target and help there, too. Their duties change daily Some days they will unload trucks that come in, and other days they stock up the shelves with the items that are delivered.

                                    “It helps them with things they will need in their everyday lives and in a job,” said Mrs. Kristy Horst (Faculty).

                                    The students not only learn what it is like to have a job and a set routine, but also how to interact with people. Working at Target and the Academy gives them that chance.

                                    After the students come back from their duties, they will go and have lunch together during 8th period. When lunch is over, they then go to Art.

                                     “I think the most important part is that they’re just able to come in and unwind and be creative and whoever they wanna be,” said Maggie Strawoet (12). 


                                  Gregory Murray (11) works on his art project with his classmates Kaitlyn Miller (9) and Justin Mellott (9)

                                  For most of them, it is their favorite period of the day. They do different art projects together and on Fridays, Mrs. Kayla Chambers-Matulevich (Faculty) plays songs they suggest.

                                    Lastly, the students finish their day by helping out in the school. During 10th period, several students go and empty all the recycling bins in the classrooms. They then take it outside to the larger recycling bin. This gives the students an opportunity to clean and help out all the teachers.

                                    Now even though every day differs, this is what a typical day looks for this class. Through spending time together, all of the students have formed friendships with not only each other but with their peers throughout the school and community, and they certainly are a light in the school.


                                  A Tough Kick Against Lancaster Catholic


                                  On Saturday, Oct. 27, The Lady Rockets accomplished more than just a win: for the first time ever, the Girls’ Varsity Soccer team made it to Districts, beating an undefeated team.

                                  “We applied everything we learned in practice,” said Bella Shupp (10).

                                  Kylee Long (11) with a throw-in

                                  To prepare for the big game, the girls practiced penalty kicks and shooting all week. Before the game, the girls got warmed up by dancing to music and doing a team prayer.

                                    With freezing weather, a feuding crowd, and many tough players, the Lady Rockets managed to beat Lancaster Catholic. After the long game, the girls then went into double overtime, which were each 15 minutes long, and then lead to penalty kicks.

                                  “My favorite memory was standing next to my team during the PK-shootout,” said Shupp.

                                  Everyone was cheering in the crowds, hoping the Lady Rockets could achieve this step. With everyone on the edge of their seats, Breanna Dukehart (12) started the first round of penalty kicks, making the first goal. After twelve long nerve-racking rounds, Jade Wolfe (10) made the last shot which lead them to victory.

                                  “It felt like having a piece of home along for the ride,”  said Addy Crouse (10). “It kind of gives us a boost of energy knowing we have their support.”

                                  A few of our students came all the way to support our Lady Rockets and cheered them on during the game, no matter how outnumbered they were to the Lancaster Catholic Student Section.

                                  “We were confident in each other and focused on putting everything together,” said Crouse.

                                  After Wolfe made the winning shot, the students and parents cheered as the girls piled on top of each other.

                                  The Lady Rockets celebrating their win

                                  “The adrenaline was high and everyone swarmed each other while celebrating,” says Crouse

                                  With tears running down their faces, they ran to their families and friends to celebrate the win they did not see coming.

                                  The Lady Rockets are now moving onto semi-finals, playing Eastern Lebanon County at Donegal High School on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

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                                  Julia Trei