The Rocket Flame

New Experiences and Changing Lives

JBHS Ag Teacher, Ms. Brittany May, is changing lives with her appearance on the Today show


Ms. May outside of NBC studios.

She has been an inspiration to a school, a community, a state, and now to a nation.  Her life changing transformation has shown millions that it is possible to change the course of your life.  Ms. Brittany May (Faculty) had once weighed over 500 pounds, but after taking her life into her own hands, she has lost almost 300 pounds.  Her perseverance has been seen all over the nation through her appearance on the Today Show.


“It was such a surreal experience being able to share my experience on a national platform,” said May.


On May 3, 2018, May was a guest star on Megyn Kelly Today.  She was part of the “Mind and Body” special that morning.  May, along with her mother, discussed the

the dedication and determination that she has had to have to make it to the point she is at now.  Megyn Kelly, amazed at May’s courage, asked her questions about her life as a teen, the journey she has taken, and the plans for her future.

“I keep getting messages from people telling me how I have touched them,” May said, “My heart is beyond full.”

She has given many people the courage and determination that they have needed to change their lives.  As others change their life, May continues to change hers.

May said, “I joined a gym three weeks ago because its fun.”

Along with her healthy habits she has learned, she is trying new things.  May started off her journey being stubborn, but as she kept moving forward she realized that she could not be afraid to try new things.  She now has become a coach of her weight loss program, Optavia. May guides her clients through their journey by touching base every day for the first week and then weekly from there on out.  She continues to chat with her coach on a weekly basis about her healthy habits and things she can do to continue to improve her life.

“For the first time in my entire life, this summer I won’t be thinking about losing weight or being in the process of losing weight,” May said.

Her weight loss has allowed May to have more energy and do an increasing amount of hands on activities in the classroom.  She has been learning a lot from her experiences that she is able to bring back to the classroom to her give her students the best education she can.


May said, “I can’t wait to see what I will do and accomplish next year at this time.”


May plans to continue Optavia and be there to support her clients through their ups and downs.  She also plans to continue teaching using the knowledge that she continues to gain from her new experiences her transformation has allowed.

Coming to a Close


Twirling flags, beating drums, counting, and lights.  Practice, practice, practice is all the indoor program has done since day one in preparations for championships.  On April 7 and 8 the James Buchanan High School Indoor program attended championships in hopes that all their hard work and dedication during the season had paid off.


“We start out with a really good warm-up,” said Mrs. Sheryl Deike (Faculty), “We kinda chunk things along the way.”


Each rehearsal begins with a warm-up that can include anything from running, to rhythm exercises, to tossing flags.  To ensure the best possible outcome, each Indoor member must be fully loosened up and ready for each rehearsal.


Both indoor guard and percussion practice every day after school.  After their warm-up they move to the show. This year Indoor Percussion performed “The Noise Inside” and Indoor Guard performed “Evil Alice.”


This year’s Championships began with the Indoor members arriving at the school at 9 a.m.  They began to do run-throughs of both of their shows trying to perfect every detail. Shortly after their arrival. the Indoor program left bound for Chambersburg Area Senior High School.  


Once they got there they sat and relaxed before their performance at 1:30 p.m.  The pressure continued to build as the Indoor members guide took them to their practice spot.  Keeping the members updated on time, the guide, would periodically tell the members how much time they had left.  Each update brought on more nerves as the performance became closer and closer. Soon the time came for performance and the guide took the indoor members to a waiting spot before performing.


“We were excited, nervous, but confident,” said Deike.


The nerves between regular competitions and championships have grown more tense as the clock continues to tick towards the finale of the season.


“This is their moment to shine that each one of them has been given a gift and a talent and there is no one else that can take their spot on the floor, off the floor,” Deike said. “It is up to them now to go out and take everything that they have learned and just put it out on the floor.”


Guard took fifth place with a score of 80.980 and percussion took third place with a score of 84.20.  


Deike said,“There’s no next week, no next time, it is now, now is their time to shine.”


As championships came to an end so did the season.  Each group had a very successful season and look forward to having a successful season next year.

The Story of St. Patrick’s Day

How the Holiday began…

The color green, shamrocks, food, and music.  What do all these things have in common? The answer is St. Patrick’s Day.  March 17th is a day that has shaped many cultures and people in different aspects.  

St. Patrick’s Day has been, and continues to be, recognized for decades all over the world, but have you ever wondered where it all began?

According to, St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain, and began his life in a wealthy family.  At 16 years old he was kidnapped by a band of Irish raiders that were attacking his estate.  The Irish raiders took St. Patrick to Ireland to serve as a slave. During his years as a slave, he was forced to work as a shepherd, outside and alone.  As a result of his fear and loneliness, he came to faith and became a strong Christian. Six years after his kidnapping he was able to escape after he got a vision from the Lord telling him to leave Ireland.  After his escape, he traveled to Britain where he had yet another revelation. This revelation came in the dream where an angel told him to return back to Ireland and become a missionary in that area. As soon as he received this he began religious training, which lasted more than 15 years.  He then became an ordained priest and traveled to Ireland with two goals: minister to the current Christians in Ireland, and convert others to Christianity. Since he was held prisoner in Ireland, he already knew their culture and traditions which made his mission much easier. He began to use their traditional beliefs to bring them to Christianity.  Several years later historians believe that St. Patrick died on what March 17, 461.

The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration occurred in Ireland.  Families celebrated with church in the morning and parties in the afternoon.  Lenten probations, according to Catholic Online lenten prohibitions are Catholic Traditions set during the season of Lent (Ash Wednesday to Easter), were set aside for this day and the people of Ireland were allowed to partake as freely as they pleased while they danced and drank.  However, in 1845 the Great Potato Famine swept across Ireland causing people to migrate, due to starvation, to the U.S., taking their beliefs with them as they went.

On March 17, 1846, the migrated Irish citizens took to the streets to celebrate their first St. Patrick’s Day in the states.  A few days later those citizens saw printed in a newsp

aper that they were portrayed as being drunks and partiers. Offended the Irish set out to show to show the American people what and why this day is so special.

Today, over 1,500 years later, we still celebrate a man who had a large impact on history.  In the U.S. there are parades held in many different states, honoring St. Patrick. The people of Chicago celebrate by dyeing the Chicago River green once a year on this day only.  People also celebrate by having family gatherings, throwing parties, and going to church. This holiday has become commercialized as well with many decorative pieces for your home and things like Shamrock Shakes from McDonald’s.

This holiday has been through so much starting in Roman Britain and ending with celebrations that people all over the world can celebrate in unity with one another.  So don’t forget next time you think about St. Patrick’s Day, look past the green and Shamrock Shakes, to the true meaning, to the story of a boy who began just as normal as you.


Ready? Set? Race!

Who Will Cross the Finish Line First?


Sydney Jones

The teams race from the start line to see who will win the first event.

Ready? Set? Go!  Yells Ella Heckman (10) and the teams race off to tackle their first event.  The intensity increases as one teammate after the other races against the other teams to get a point on the board.  Ag Olympics hosted by the Ag department is a favorite for many students each year.  FFA Weeks builds the excitement for the finale on Friday for only one week out of the entire school year.

During FFA Week there are spirit days that lead up to the Olympics.  This year the spirit days consisted of: Camo Day, America Day, Farmer Day, Farm Animal Day, and Blue and Gold Day.  Each day had different criteria based off the theme.  Camo Day you were encouraged to wear any and all camo that you owed.  For America Day wearing an sort of red, white, or blue was fantastic.  Farmer Day you were to dress like a farmer.  For Farm Animal Day you were encouraged to dress like any farm.  Finally, for Blue and Gold Day you could wear any assortment of blue and gold.

“FFA chapters use National FFA Week to share agriculture with their fellow students as well as their communities,” said Adrianna Durboraw (11).

Living in a rural community makes FFA Week so much more important.  This is a way to keep our community together through something the community is good at, farming, and something that everyone loves, fun.  

“We do Ag Olympics to have fun and get the whole school involved.  Everybody in the school gets to watch as teams participate in activities,” said Adrianna Durboraw, “ FFA week is to inform people about agriculture and FFA knowledge.”

This year there were six teams.The teams were Yearbook: Rachel Kimmel, Kirstyn Black, Macey Keefer, and Megan Rummel; The Dream Team: Shane Coursey, Heath Hissong, Cody Saunders, and David Clopper; The 717: Evan Clopper, Logan Miller, Trysten Hensley, and Caleb Wise; The Thrasher: Delanie Black, Madison Hock, Lacy Nolan, and Shayla Plantz; Brothers From Differ

ent Mothers: Moses Goetz, Logan Weaver, Alex Letterman, and Trey Settings; and finally The Teachers: Ms. Fox, Mrs. Swailes, Mrs. Chambers, and Mrs. Miller.  Anyone from the school can make a team and enter into the Olympics.  There is a limit of four people per team and everyone must participate in almost every activity. This year the games consisted of: Hay Bale Tossing, Corn Shucking, Apple Bobbing, Penny in a Haystack, and a Pie Eating Contest.  Each of these activities helps students that don’t have a farming background appreciate the community they live in and the work that they do.

“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will, in the end, contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness,” said Adrianna Durboraw.

The community we live in is full of new agricultural opportunities.  Being able to bring them to school for students to learn while having fun is a rare opportunity.

Spreading the Christmas Cheer

Making the Difference


Olivia Harmon (11) is decorating her Appomattox student’s bag for Elf on the Shelf.

“Tis the season to be jolly.”  We hear that so much this time of year.  However, what does this season actually mean to you?  Does it mean presents, food, lights, and decorations?  


    To the James Buchanan High School Tri-M members it means something different.  To them this is the season to give back to the elementary school students.  They are able to do this through Elf on the Shelf with a kindergarten class at Appomattox Elementary School.  

Rebecca O’Brien, daughter of Deike, is the teacher of the class at Appomattox where Tri-M sends the letters and goodies.  Even though Deike and her family had everything under control she decided to hand the baton to another group.

“Our family took upon her [Rebecca O’Brien] class… so we wrote letters to the kids, we were in contact with them, we even followed them throughout the year a little bit,” said Band Director and Tri-M advisorMrs. Sheryl Deike (Faculty)

Deike said, “I presented it to Tri-M and we decided to take two classes.”


Tri-M is a National Honor Society for musically-inclined students.  This year the club has 27 students.  Each member had a specific student to whom they wrote and sent presents.

“She said that they just sat and cried because the way these kids just took to the letters that you guys wrote…” said Deike, “it was so cool because things that you, that the kids had written to their kids unbeknownst how fitting it was.”

Each year the letters are written in the perspective of their Elf, whose name was Chippy.  The letters contain words of encouragement to the children.  The notes are handwritten by the Tri-M students themselves and were sent December 12.  The goodie bags containing erasers, pencils, crayons, coloring books, and different kinds of snacks were sent out Dec. 15 to 22.  Each club member was in charge of bringing these items in for their student.  This year they were only given a few days to get these gifts for the children.

“We should get the names 

of the kids sooner so we have more time to work on it.” said Kierstyn Martin (12).

Martin, the president of Tri-M, hopes that next year the members will have more time to work on this so that the elementary students can have an even better Elf on the Shelf.  She enjoys being able to know that these elementary school children can get these gifts around Christmas time.  The Tri-M members don’t know the backgrounds of the students so they try to make this a fun, memorable event for the children.

Inspirational Individual

The tremendous results of taking your life into your own hands


Kirstyn Black

May proudly displays the outcome of new lifestyle.

A teacher at James Buchanan High School has a life-changing story to share.  Her weight loss has transformed her life.  She is now less than half the person she used to be.  

The agriculture teacher Ms. Brittany May (Faculty), has taken her life under control.  On June 27, 2016 she decided to make a change in her life.

“I had found my dream job.  I got to teach agriculture in a community that I know and I love, but I was the limiting factor for my students,” May said.

May wanted to give her students the best experience in the JB agriculture program as possible, but she felt that she couldn’t until she made some changes.  She was unable to participate in certain activities and had to cancel others.  

“They were suffering because I couldn’t give them my 100%,” May said, “That wasn’t ok with me.”

Now, nearly a year and a half later, she is able to give her best to her students. Through hard work, support, and dedication she has changed her life.

“My students are my biggest cheerleaders,” May said.  “I would have never expected to have that connection in the classroom.”

The people in her life help to encourage her when she needs support to continue her new lifestyle. Her life has had many changes, but it hasn’t been easy or fast.

“Small habit changes over the course of time because small changes, instead of a complete overhaul, that’s what’s sustainable,” said May, “Making sure I’m taking care of myself: things like drinking more water, getting more sleep, parking farther away, or using a basket instead of a shopping cart at the grocery store.”

These are just some of the many things that May has changed in her life.  May is part of a group called Optavia. Optavia provides her with many supporters and plays a very big role in her life.  

“The program is called Optavia [and] It’s four parts. I have a health coach, I have a community of people who are doing the exact same thing I’m doing; sometimes I’m their support, sometimes they’re my support,” May said, “I have the learning of the healthy habits along the way and then just the nutritional information.”

Through hard times and small victories May has changed her life in many ways.  She continues to share her story with others as she keeps working to make herself the person she wants to be.

    November Article Picture

    College Confusion Conquered

    Struggling with your college applications?


    Calling all seniors at JB!  If you have been confused about college and the application process, then this article is for you!  Ms. Amy Violante, College Advisor, and the College Ambassador team are an outgoing bunch  willing to assist in every way possible!

    College applications and essays can be very confusing at times.  Any little piece of information available to assist most high school seniors absorb right away.

    “Know your deadlines, do all of the optional pieces, demonstrate interest in colleges you would like to attend, apply to a balanced list of colleges and consider using the Common App,” Violante said about her top five tips for college.

    Stressing these points are very important.  Her own college application experience was enjoyable, however she feels that if she would have known everything she does now, she could have found a better financial fit for her.  A great opportunity to fill out college applications is coming up on Nov. 6.  This is a day where any senior can have some time fill out applications.  If there are any questions you can ask Violante or the College Ambassador team.

    “Had I applied to or been accepted to more colleges, I may have had another great college option that would have been a better financial fit,” said Violante.

    Keeping this in mind, senior Maddie Hissong, College Ambassador,  recommends that seniors to apply to many different colleges.


    “It’s good to apply to five or more colleges,” Hissong says.

    Having more options are always better.  Everyone needs three types of schools: reach, likely, and safety.  A reach school is the school that may accept you, but is not guaranteed.  Likely schools are the schools that you will get accepted to, but may not be the ones that are the best for your major.  A safety school is a school that will accept you and that is good for your major.  These schools are the ones that are your safety net in case there aren’t any other schools that you can get into.

    Along with applying to college comes financial aid.

    “The most important part of applying for college might be applying for financial aid,” Violante said.

    Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial part of applying for college.  There are different deadlines for each school; everyone needs to fill out the FAFSA, even if it is believed none will be received.  

    “Fill out your FAFSA,” Hissong said.

    There are many important factors about college, some hidden some not.  Violante and the group of college ambassadors are always willing to help.

      Want to Know How to Save a Life?

      One donation saves three lives.


      Kirstyn Black

      Michael Newman has his arm in the air awaiting the final steps of the blood donation process.

      It’s the morning of the first day you donate.  The doors open and a cold draft runs over your body and nerves take over.  As you scan the room you see students and teachers waiting in line to get blood drawn.  Friends lay on the Red Cross tables with arms in the air, while others wait for the process to begin.  Familiar voices fill the air as some have friends with them for support as the volunteers begin.

      Possibly the scariest, but most rewarding donation to give.  Your blood.  Needles, tubes, bags, and

      iodine in abundance on the stage of the James Buchanan High School on Thursday, Sept. 21 as a Red Cross blood drive was hosted by the JB FFA chapter in the auditorium last week.

      The FFA motto seems to stand for many of the students and staff at the high school. “Learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live, living to serve,” said Ella Heckman, 10, FFA Reporter.

      The exceptional turnout, yet again this year, has proven the servant-hearted community that surrounds the school.

      When asked the question if Ms. Brittany May donated blood she said, “I give blood as often as I can. Thursday was actually my 15th donation!”

      Items that are a must have to donate blood.

      Each donation saves three lives.  Together the community helped save 69 lives on Thursday during the FFA’s first blood drive of three to be held this year.  The next blood drives will be in the winter and the spring.  

      “It is quite rewarding to see students and teachers take time out of their busy schedules to help others in need,” said May.

      The blood drive serves more than just one purpose.  There is a scholarship that the relies on the success of the blood drive.

      “The scholarship is based on the number of units donated throughout the year,” says May, “We are already about halfway to our goal of units donated this year to reach the first tier of scholarships.”

      If there are more than enough units donated for the first scholarship, there could potentially be two.  This scholarship is offered to any senior that is currently active in the Community Service Committee, which is the committee that offers the scholarship.

      “FFA is full of amazing opportunities to help people. The blood drive is so easy and rewarding because all it takes is a pint of blood to save somebody’s life!” said Heckman.

      The James Buchanan High School FFA chapter prides themselves as being community based and willing to serve.  The annual blood drive is a great way to keep that reputation alive.

        Navigate Left
        • Features

          A Covid Return To School

        • Features

          JBHS Graduation 2020

        • Kylee Long puts on her swim cap before her first race.


          The Setbacks Make for a Better Comeback

        • A Day in the Life of an AP Student

          A Day in the Life

          A Day in the Life of an AP Student

        • On his last day at JBHS, Mr. Colby Sites (Faculty) shows off his crazy taco socks.


          ExSITESment Awaits For JB Alumni

        • A Day In the Life of Mrs.Czuprynski

          A Day in the Life

          A Day In the Life of Mrs.Czuprynski

        • A Day in the Life of the Cafeteria Staff

          A Day in the Life

          A Day in the Life of the Cafeteria Staff

        • Mr. Thomas Bradley (Faculty) smiles for a photo at his desk.

          A Day in the Life

          A Day in the Life of Mr. Bradley

        • A Day In the Life Of Mr. Poe

          A Day in the Life

          A Day In the Life Of Mr. Poe

        • Ms. Angi Johnson (Faculty) smiles on the pool deck at James Buchanan High School.


          Diving In At James Buchanan

        Navigate Right
        Activate Search
        The Student News Site of James Buchanan High School
        Kirstyn Black