The Rocket Flame

Do You Drive?


Parking in the school parking lot, Sammie Mills (12) shows off skills learned through taking Driver’s Education and Driver’s Simulation

A person can start learning to drive at 16 years old, and, through Driver’s Education and Driver’s Simulation, which are offered at James Buchanan High School, students are learning to drive properly to be in control on the road.


Driver’s Education is a mandatory half-credit course offered to students in their sophomore year. The course goes through 10 modules that consist of a lesson and quiz. Throughout the 10 different modules, there are many topics covered, including emotional driving, driving under the influence, all the way to what is under the hood of a car and liability insurance.


After the modules are completed, students must take a final driving assessment to determine whether they will pass the course or not. If the student receives under a 75% on the final assessment, they have failed and must keep trying to complete the course in order to graduate. Unfortunately for students that fail, they must pay a fine of $50 every semester they take Driver’s Education.


At James Buchanan, Mr. Michael Mele (Faculty) is in charge of Driver’s Education. This means he informs all the students about the course and supervises students to keep them on track, especially for the final assessment.


“It is really important to get an understanding of the rules of the road,” Mele said. “I think what the exposure to Driver’s Ed does is it gets you making conscious, safe decisions on the road.”


James Buchanan also offers Driver’s Simulation directed by Mrs. Julie Eshleman (Faculty). Driver’s Stimulation is a course taken by students where they go through simulations at a wheel and even practice driving on the road with instructors. There are nine different simulations that the students go through which replicate different weather conditions. Each simulation is required to be taken twice.


Driver’s Simulation is an optional course, though, since students have to pay a fee to take it. Once a student completes the course, they are allowed to take their driver’s test through the school instead of through a DMV. There are also circumstances, depending on the type of insurance, where students will be given a discount off their insurance if they take the course.


“The leading cause of death for young people is automobile accidents,” Eshleman said, “So anything we can do to prevent that would be great.”

Driving is not something that people, especially teenagers, should take for granted. By offering Driver’s Education and Driver’s Simulation to students, James Buchanan aims to teach students road safety in hopes to minimize future accidents.

What on Earth are You Doing on Earth Day?


Surrounded by lush plants and flowers, a tree grows in the safety of old rubber boots

It’s April 22, 1970. Nobody seems to be noticing the increasing pollution in the air from cars and factories or the damage that oil spills can have like the one that occured a year prior in Santa Barbara, California. That is everyone except for a Wisconsin senator by the name of Gaylord Nelson. Using the zest and motivation from the students and people holding anti-war protests against the Vietnam War, Nelson decided to create a national day in honor of environmental awareness; this day is known as Earth Day.


When the first Earth Day occured in 1970, it was a huge hit. According to The History of Earth Day article, 20 million Americans took part in rallying and cleaning the Earth. Many schools would even hold demonstrations teaching people about the effects of pollution. From there, Earth Day became an annual event that is always celebrated on April 22.  


The next big celebration of Earth Day took place in 1990. On this year, Earth Day spread from only being honored in America, to being honored worldwide. The number people that celebrated Earth Day grew from 20 million to 200 million throughout 141 countries.


Today, Earth Day is celebrated by over a billion people all over the world. Within our school, there are several people who are planning on commemorating this day. For instance, the James Buchanan Student Council is planning a service event for Earth Day. One of the co-chairs of the Community Service Committee, Claire Kriner (10), hopes to clean waste around the school or even the town of Mercersburg during the weekend.


“Every month, the Community Service Committee co-chairs have to come together and scheduled an event or activity which the student council has to participate in,” Kriner said. “For April, we saw Earth Day as a perfect opportunity to give support to the environment and clean up trash.”


A teacher at James Buchanan, Mr. Michael Mele, is a huge advocate for the environment. Every year, Mele and his family always take time out of the day to recognize how important a clean and healthy environment is.


“Protecting the environment is one of the most important things we can do as people, not just for ourselves, but for our kids and then their kids and so on,” Mele said. “Every year, my wife and I recognize Earth Day and talk about it with our kids and tell them the importance of protecting the environment. Then we usually plant a tree every Earth Day.”


  Many people view the Earth’s environment and how important it is differently. However, Earth Day brings many people together to honor our one and only home, Earth.


The Secret Life of Shellie Viertz


At a championship swim meet, Shellie Viertz is in charge of coaching several swimmers.

Every day you see and meet new people. You watch people walk by you in the halls, glance at them while driving in your car, or hear about them through stories told by friends or showed in the news. You see their faces and what they wear, but what you are not aware of is their personality, interests, or stories. Shellie Viertz, a pool director at James Buchanan High School, is someone that many people around the school know; however, Viertz is more than just a pool director and lives a unique double life.


When Viertz was 10 years old, her grandma taught her how to sew. Viertz immediately fell in love with the hobby and started to fabricate her own clothes. She also sewed all of her dresses for her school dances and other events.


“When I was a junior and I had a boyfriend who was a senior, I made his tuxedo,” said Viertz. “Then after I made his tuxedo, I made my own dress which matched him. I had never bought a dress.”


Before leaving for the prom, Viertz and her prom date show off the dress and tuxedo Viertz had sewn herself.

After Viertz graduated from college, she worked for the Hagerstown YMCA being an instructor and coach of the swim team. Five years later, Viertz worked for the federal government for 13 years within the Department of Energy. Once Viertz married and had a child, she ended up in Mercersburg and took care of her son full-time.


During this time, Viertz began to bring sewing back into her life by selling teddy bears. Viertz made 50-80 teddy bears while she was taking care of her son. These were all made out of regular, fur fabric. After becoming skilled in making teddy bears, Viertz decided to take it to the next level.


Viertz purchased a half yard of a wool called mohair. Mohair is wool made from the hair of Angora goats. A half yard of mohair costs $250, which is enough to make only one teddy bear.


“I gave my first [mohair teddy bear] to my sister-in-law,” Viertz said, “but then someone saw it and requested for me to make them one. So I bought more mohair and made another one for them.”


Viertz has been the pool director, which manages pool rentals and other jobs needed done around the pool, at James Buchanan for six years and is planning on continuing her job for a while. She also stays after school every day in order to coach the swim team. Although Viertz doesn’t sew nearly as much as she used to, Viertz helps people with alterations or any other little jobs she is asked to do.

The Sun is Also a Star Book Review

The cover of The Sun is Also a Star

The cover of The Sun is Also a Star

The Sun is Also a Star (2016)

Author: Nicola Yoon


Synopsis: Natasha Kingsley is a Jamaican teenager who is about to get deported in less than 24 hours. As Natasha spends the day trying to get her family to stay in New York, she runs into Daniel Bae. Daniel is heading for an interview with Yale until his encounter with Natasha throws his day for a spin. Natasha and Daniel go on adventures around the city together, wasting the hours before Natasha may get deported.


What’s Hot

As Nicola Yoon’s first novel, Everything, Everything, turned out to be a popular hit that many enjoyed, Yoon succeeded herself with her second novel, The Sun is Also a Star. When the chapters changed, the narrator did, as well. This gave the reader different perspectives, not only from the main characters, but also from minor characters. The novel also hit the heart of many teenagers or adults that love a good romance. The differences between the two main characters’ beliefs, lives, and personalities made the novel’s love story more interesting and easy to get caught up in.


What’s Not

When reading through this novel, some might cringe or groan about all the cliche moments, which happen to make the book more unrealistic. There are also many coincidences that are, although cute to some people, can be repetitive and impractical. Another thing to note is that all of the moments the two main characters share and that bring the two together occur within the span of one day which is unique, but can also add another unrealistic factor onto the novel.  


Bottom Line

The Sun is Also a Star is an easy-going, romantic book that contains many unique factors that other novels lack. It is above satisfactory and I would definitely recommend this to others.   





What You Don’t Know About 3:15 Student Ministries


Standing at the door of 3:15 Student Ministries, Jacquelyn Wagaman (11), Dawson Thomas (11), and Harley Rife (11) welcome attendees and guests.

Sharing testimonies. Listening to guest speakers. Reading the Bible. Inviting and meeting new people. These are all things that happen every Monday morning during activity period the optional student club, 3:15 Student Ministries.


3:15 Student Ministries is a club managed and run by students. The president, Jaiden Hart (12), has been recently elected and is already on the move for improving the club from last year.


“We are trying to achieve better leadership this year,” Hart said. “We put in a lot of care and our attendance is growing.”


Within a usual Monday morning, the club assigns a member to speak about a topic relating to the Bible or to share their testimony, which is a story about how a person witnessed the Lord. At the end of the meeting, the club opens up into discussion where any member can share what they would like, such as how they encountered God throughout the week.


On special occasions, the club will invite guest speakers to preach for the morning. On October 23, a youth leader from Air Hill Brethren Church came in and spoke. This meeting had a very successful outcome, so the club is planning on bringing in more speakers for the future.

Flipping through pages in the Bible, Harley Rife (11), shows Kali Rotharmel (11) her favorite verse.

3:15 Student Ministries is also starting to prepare for a big fellowship event they are holding in April. The event is called Overflow and the club hopes to have the event run smoother and to have stronger attendance than the year before.


“Overflow is a fellowship event,” Hart said. “We bring in different speakers and different musicians. We’ll sing songs and hear people speak. There’s food and games. It turns out to be a really great time.”  


The overall goal for 3:15 Student Ministries is to grow and to bring more students to God. The club tries to make nobody feel unwelcome by greeting everyone at the door with handshakes and jokes.


“Our goal is to spread love and the amazing works of our Lord,” said the vice president, Harley Rife (11). “We want to bring joy to the students in our school and community.”

Goals of Recovery


One of the strikers of Girls’ Varsity Soccer, Addy Crouse (9), was a strong attribute to the team before becoming afflicted with a concussion during a game against Greencastle

Hitting your head with an opposing team member. Being cleated while trying to gain possession of the soccer ball. Aggressively pushing and shoving the competition. Twisting your ankle while running down the field. These are just a few examples of what could happen to any player while participating in the sport of soccer.

It was Saturday, September 30th, when the Girls’ Varsity Soccer goalkeeper Meredith Iverson, 9, was guarding the net. She sustained an injury after a girl, from the opposite team, hit her in the face around her left eye.


“It was the first half and there was three minutes left,” said Iverson. “The ball came at me and I went for it and the girl just kept running and kneed me in the head.”


Iverson was pulled off the field immediately and eventually taken to the hospital once they realized further medical attention would be needed.

After gaining possession of the soccer ball, Meredith Iverson (9), looks up the field for her teammates a few games previous to her injury.

“We went to the hospital” Iverson said. “I got a scan and they told me my orbital bone, which is a bone in my eye socket, had a fracture in it and that tissue was caught in the bone.”


Iverson is now not allowed to play soccer until the doctors decide if she needs surgery or not. If she does need surgery, Iverson guesses it will be another month until she is allowed to be active in sports again.


Iverson, however, was not the only girl to experience an injury this year on the Girls’ Varsity Soccer team. The team’s strikers, Addy Crouse, 9, and Kadenn Martin, 9, were also injured.

Crouse suffered a concussion during a game against Greencastle. Having hit her head twice in the game, Crouse didn’t realize something was wrong until afterward when she was feeling dizzy and her head hurt.


“The trainer for Greencastle came over to me and was checking me out,” Crouse said. “She just said to go home and rest, but then I was trying to walk to the bus and I couldn’t even stand up straight.”


Crouse was then taken to the hospital where she was told that she could not play for two weeks. To prevent concussions from happening again, Crouse is supposed to wear a headband while playing soccer so that impacts to her head will not be as severe.


One of the other strikers, Martin, had torn her ACL. About eight months ago, Martin said she had hyperextended the tendon and that is when it originally tore. However, Martin did not realize  she was injured until a Northern game a few weeks ago when it started bothering her. After playing a whole season being injured, Martin’s ACL is completely torn and she has to receive surgery.

Before tearing her ACL, Kadenn Martin (9), played as one of the Varsity strikers on the Girls’ Soccer teame she was injured until a Northern game a few weeks ago when it started bothering her. After playing a whole season being injured, Martin’s ACL is completely torn and she has to receive surgery.

“After that [surgery], it will take up to nine months to a year recovery,” Martin said.  “It [ACL] hurts all the time, but there’s nothing I can do about it until I get surgery.”


All three athletes had a huge role on the soccer team and their absence forced the team to shift their line-ups and strategy. The girls are on their way to recovery so they are hoping to be ready to play next year.

The Robotic Future of James Buchanan


Kiersten Siko, 11, displays James Buchanan’s drone in the Robotics club’s workshop.

Throughout the school year academics are praised, sport teams are highlighted, and every social event is brought to attention amongst the student body. However, lying behind the scenes is a small, yet upcoming club known as the Robotics club.

The Robotics club is a growing, high-tech club where a group of seven or eight students learn how to assemble and program different robots. The robot softwares used at James Buchanan are known as Vex and Boebots. The club also treasures their own drone, which is managed by the upperclassmen.


The drone is the biggest project the robotics club is currently working on. It is used to capture pictures or video footage of James Buchanan’s sports complexes or of the elementary schools. Students Whitney Deshong, 12, and Kiersten Siko, 11, describe how during a typical Robotics club session they either fly the drone or mess around with the drone’s software.


“Right now, it [the drone] is having software issues so we’re figuring that out,” Deshong said showing how problem-solving is an important characteristic of the club.  


The members of the Robotics club are also gearing up to enter competitions for the drone or for their other robots in the near future.

“We are learning how to program and build the robots in anticipation of entering several competitions across the state of Pennsylvania and Maryland,” said advisor Mr. Bill Brooks, Faculty.

The Robotics Club’s drone operated by the upperclassmen   

The members of the club are already preparing for these competitions, along with preparing for the Homecoming parade. They are planning on having their homecoming parade appearance have a movie theme to correspond with the Hollywood Homecoming theme. 


Although a lot of work and time is put into the robots, the members of the robotics club enjoy working with technology and learning more about it.


“It’s a fun experience. It’s really exciting when you see something you worked on for three weeks walk three inches,” Siko said.


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Sarah Kimmel