The Rocket Flame

Godspeed Totem Pole

On May 20 schools from around the area gathered together for the Tony’s of high school musicals.


Sydney Jones

While getting her hair done by Claire Alfree (12), Kelsi Parson (11) ponders about Sunday’s performance.

Totem Pole Playhouse Awards were started back in 2014 and closely mimic the Tony Awards for Broadway shows.


“Out of three counties, the schools that want to participate in it can have judges come and watch their musicals,” Claire Alfree (12) stated. “Then they get judged based off of different awards, such as Best Actress and Best Ensemble Number.”


Five schools/people are nominated for each of these awards, ranging from Outstanding Actor/Actress in a Leading Role, to Outstanding Musical Chorus. James Buchanan High School’s show, Titanic, was nominated for nine of the awards.


“I got nominated for Best Leading Actress,” Alfree said. “Dean [King] got nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Jackie Wagaman and Logan [Williams] got nominated for Best Ensemble Male and Female. We got nominated for Best Ensemble Number, Best Chorus, Best Musical, and Best Duet.”


Titanic has big shoes to fill from the performance two years ago, Jekyll and Hyde.


“We won ten awards for Jekyll and Hyde,” Alfree stated.


Back in 2016, Alfree was awarded Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role, for her character Lucy Harris, the same award that she was nominated for this year, playing Kate McGowan.


“Honestly, I was really surprised,” Alfree said. “You’re up against seniors and I was only a sophomore at the time, so I was definitely in shock, but I’m proud, and I worked really hard for it.”

Alfree and the other castmates have high hopes for this year’s awards.


“I would love if we got every single award, but I don’t want to go in there saying we will,” Alfree said,  “No matter what though, we are going to come home with something, and we’re going to make our school proud.”


Dean King (10), who played Barrett in the show, was nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role and Best Male Solo. He won the award, for his performance of Barrett’s Song.


“I was super shocked. I honestly thought that Ben, who played Shrek, in Shrek the Musical [Waynesboro], was going to win because he has such a beautiful voice,” said King.  
“I was super excited when I won that award.”


James Buchanan also won two other awards Sunday evening.


“The Titanic musical as a whole also won the award for Best Ensemble, and then Abby Horst won the Jean Stapleton Award,” King said.


Even though they may be nice, the musical and Totem Pole are not all about the awards, but about the people.


“You get really close with all of the cast members and whenever the show’s over, that first two weeks, you start to miss it a lot,” Alfree stated. “Totem Pole is that one opportunity to have everyone back together again.”


The cast had a chance to do it all one last time and Totem Pole will be an experience for them to remember forever.

    April Snow Causes May Flowers to Not Grow

    The Reasoning Behind the Fluctuating Weather


    Sydney Jones

    An Example of the Relentless Snow in 2018.

    Typically the beginning of April brings Easter, rain, and warmer weather, followed by flowers blooming in May.


    But this year, Mother Nature had different plans.

    It began the week of February 18, when the weather went from 30 degrees up to 80, all in the span of a few days. Since then, there have been a majority of winter-esque days, with a few summer ones in the mix.


    This also included the snowstorm in March that brought 13 inches of snow and closed school for a few days.


    On the second day of April, the wavering temperatures still showed their true potential. The day after Easter, an inch of snow was present on the ground as people went off to work, but by the end of the day, there was not a trace of it in sight.


    Last week, Monday called for anywhere from 32 to 36 degrees, but on Friday and Saturday, the weather had a high of 80 degrees.


    Even though the weather may be confusing, have you ever wondered what has been causing it?


    Let’s dive into the controversial topic of global warming, or should we say, “global freezing.”


    It’s a common misconception that since we’re getting cold, brutal weather in Pennsylvania in the spring, that earth cannot be getting warmer. However, this could not be more inaccurate.


    It turns out that the growing warmth in the Arctic is causing colder winters up in the northeastern United States. According to Climate Central, multiple studies have come up with the conclusion that “abnormally warm Arctic temperatures make severe winters in the Northeast two to four times more likely.”


    The answer to this topic lies the in two important factors: jet stream and teleconnections.


    Scientific American states that the jet stream “[transports] air masses” as well as “[creates] clashing zones for storm formation.” Thus, jet stream is what directs our weather patterns.


    Teleconnections explains how the weather in a particular place can affect other continents. This is why harsh winters are being seen up here in the Tuscarora School District.


    On the bright(er) side, April will bring more days of slight warmth and with summer around the corner, being cold will be a thing of the past.

      From Classroom to Stardom

      The story behind the musical group whose name is nearly impossible to pronounce.

      Singing, dancing, and everything in between, Messa Voce (met-sä-ˈvō-chā) has been a musical group in the school for decades.


      “It started in about ‘79, Mr. Eshleman started it, and it was called ‘Show Choir,’” Mr. Eric Poe (Faculty) said.


      The organization practices countless hours throughout the week to ensure their music and choreography are to the best of their ability.


      “We have them [practices] second period, and also in the mornings on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:15 am,” Allison Collings (11) said.


      They perform a few concerts every year, some at the school, during Arts in Action, and their most recent concert held at the Mercersburg Academy.


      “They [the Academy] are doing a couple pieces, three or four, we’re doing four pieces, and we’re going to do three pieces together,” Poe said.


      It has been a while since the two groups have come together for a concert.


      “Before I got hired, Mr. Eshelman did a joint performance with the Mercersburg Academy,” Poe stated.


      Poe explained that he had planned to do another performance with the Academy when he started directing Messa Voce, but with the group’s busy schedule, it was put on the backburner until the beginning of this school year.


      “I was contacted by Jim Brinson, who is the organist over there,” Poe said. “He also plays the organ for baccalaureate, and in doing that has had a chance to hear Messa Voce the last few years.”


      After Brinson heard the group perform, he decided to reach out to Poe.


      “So he contacted me and was like, ‘Hey what do you think about doing a joint concert?’” said Poe. “‘I’ve heard your select group come and I think they’re excellent. It’d be really good for our students to sing with other students and kind of branch out, support things in the community, etc.’”


      Both singing groups have practiced their songs and will put them together March 23.


      “I’m really looking forward to it because it’s in the chapel, which has fantastic acoustics,” Poe said. “Mr. Brinson is going to play the piano for one of the joint pieces, and he’s a very fine accompanist.”


      There are countless songs they perform each year, each chosen by Poe.


      “They’re all my favorites, that’s why I picked them,” Poe said.


      The songs may be a part of the show, but to those involved Messa Voce is more than just the music.


      “Messa Voce kind of is my life,” Chelsea Wareham (11) said. “I’ve always wanted to join it since I was a little kid in elementary school, and when I finally came to high school, it gave me a chance to make friends with people that are just like me, and that’s kind of awesome.“


          From Student to Teacher

          Mrs. Breanna Grove’s Transition from College Life to Teaching High Schoolers


          Mrs. Breanna Grove

          Changes can be difficult, whether it’s a new house, or even a new job. One teacher in the district has endured a lot of changes in the past year, but has used them to her advantage.


          Mrs. Breanna Grove (Faculty) graduated from Lock Haven University not even a year ago. She is the current gym teacher here at James Buchanan High School, but, even in college, many changes had occurred in her life.


          “I originally went to Shippensburg for middle-level education, teaching math and science, but then I knew Lock Haven had physical education,” Grove said. “I never really thought of that as a career, until I heard of it and thought about it. So that’s whenever I went up to Lock Haven and pursued health and PE.”


          After moving to Lock Haven, she declared a new major and began classes.


          “[I took] your typical gen eds for the first year, and after that we had a lot of physical education classes.” Grove explained, “Which were specifically games, like tactical games: ultimate football, ultimate frisbee, and soccer, and then we also had net sports as another class, which is tennis, volleyball, pickleball, badminton.”


          She not only has a degree in physical education, but is certified to teach Health.


          “I also had a lot of health-related classes with my Health degree, so I’m technically certified to teach Health and Physical Education. I took Anatomy, Physiology, [and] Kinesiology,” Grove added.


          After graduation, Grove began to look for a job. The first job opening she found was here at James Buchanan.


          “They [the Heckmans] told me about Beegle retiring, so even before the position was posted, I applied for it. This was the very first position I applied for,” she said. “After that, I applied for like 10 other positions, and I ended up getting the job of my very first application.”


          There was some slight competition, but in the end, Grove was hired.


          “They actually interviewed my husband for the same position. We were interviewed on the same day, but then I got a call back,” Grove said.


          She dealt with all the other logistics of getting hired, and was ready to start her new job, which consisted of the typical first day jitters.


          “Nervous, very, very, nervous,” were the words Grove used to describe her feelings.


          One of her major concerns was being accepted, but also respected.


          “Being a young person, you want everyone to like you, but you also need to be professional, and be assertive when necessary, or you’re just going to get pushed over,” Grove described. “That’s definitely been a fun learning experience.”


          Though she has been teaching for less than a semester, she already has goals for the future.


          “My hope is to never be the same. I think whenever you repeat things every year, people get bored with it, first of all,” she reported. “Secondly, society changes, so I believe what you teach in the classroom should change too.”


          Grove not only wants to make her class interesting, she also wants to create a bond with her students.


          “I think being a teacher [that] it’s important to build relationships with your students and have them be comfortable enough to come and talk to you,” she said. ”If you can’t build that respect and persona with your students, then you’re really not going to be able to reach them like you could if you were able to talk to them one-on-one.”


          She believes that changes are key to a successful class in today’s world.


          “Just in education specifically, in the past, traditional education was very much, you need to ‘teach, teach, teach,’” Grove informed. “Whereas 21st-century education, which is what they push now, is about building relationships, being able to relate to your students, and just know more about them, and not necessarily just teaching them all the time, but having them teach you.”


          The experiences Grove has gone through over the past few years are what shaped her into the person she is today, and shows that change is inevitable.


          On Friday, Nov. 17, the James Buchanan Drama Club members switched places in their Miscast Cabaret.


          Sydney Jones

          Her dress sparkling under the stage lights, Olivia Harmon (11) performs “Stars” from Les Miserables.

          Cabaret is a tradition started by Mr. Luke Spurgeon (Staff) and Mrs. Kristin Zimmerman (Faculty), where the Drama Club performs different pieces from musicals and plays.


          “The first Cabaret was this time of year, in November 2015. It was the same year as Jekyll and Hyde,” Spurgeon said.


          Their theme this year was Miscast, which is where the boys are to sing songs originally performed by girls, and vice versa.


          “There’s a whole bunch of awesome songs that are written for girls on Broadway that guys never get to sing and a whole bunch of awesome songs that are written for guys on Broadway that girls never get to sing, so, we’re switching them,” Spurgeon said.


          Opening the show was Kierstyn Martin (12) and Sean Martin (12) as the hosts who performed “Anything You Can Dofrom Annie Get Your Gun.


          “Cabaret is kind of like old-fashioned karaoke,” explained drama director Mr. Luke Spurgeon, “It’s just a night of informal singing songs that you like.”


          With this thought in mind, Cabaret was born, and gave some students the performance of their high school career.  


          “Cabaret is a chance to give some students who don’t get a lot of solo time on stage the opportunity to get in front of a crowd and sing a solo, to perform, to get used to being on stage before they have to jump into the musical or a play or something,” Spurgeon commented. “It’s kind of like the training ground for performing.”


          Those who participate enjoy the freedom involved with Cabaret.


          “You can basically perform whatever song you want and have fun with it,” said Korina Williams (12). “You get to dress up, and it’s all about you.”


          There were sixteen students and 2 faculty members that performed on Friday, and about fifty people attended the show. Songs from Les Miserables, Oliver!, Dear Evan Hanson, and many more were showcased. Williams was supposed to sing “Music of the Night” from the classic Phantom of the Opera, but was unable to sing due to sickness.


          Though some were under the weather, the show must go on! The performance was brought to a close by Emily Palmerchuck (11) singing “Cabaret” from the musical Cabaret. It helped conclude the show by sticking with its theme of switching things up.  

            Foreign Exchange(d) Club

            Why the Gap Year for the Club Came to be


            Everything has been the same in the James Buchanan district. Everything, except the disappearance of an organization and the new faces we receive every year.


            The James Buchanan Foreign Exchange Club has been a way for the students and staff to experience diverse cultures and people from around the world. Each year, the school typically receives a few exchange students who come from all over the globe to attend school and live in the small town of Mercersburg.


            But when students walked in the doors this semester, they noticed the absence of these faces.


            “The Foreign Exchange Club is not going to be active this year due to the lack of exchange students in our district,” Ms. Danielle Simchick, (Faculty), the advisor to the club, originally stated.


            Simchick had plans to continue the club, even without the exchange students, but that plan had fallen through.

            “We initially were going to work with a former exchange student, Marianna Davidova, this year,” Simchick said.  “Marianna is an Armenian exchange student who attended James Buchanan in 2015-2016, who is now attending Wilson College for four years.”

            Davidova was unable to fulfill the duties required to participate in the club, so Simchick decided it would be best to make the club inactive. This was the plan until Mid-October when the school got news that there would be a new foreign exchange student.

            “His name is Fernando, and he comes from Mexico,” Sarah Hoffeditz (12), President, informed.


            Hoffeditz did not want the club to take the gap year and had her own intentions for the exchange students.


            “I was disappointed because I was looking forward to meeting new exchange students,” Hoffeditz states, “My plans were to show the exchange students the way of America and go on trips with them.”


            She then found out the Club was reinstated around the same time other students began to.


            “It was the very beginning of this week. Simchick sent out a text telling us about the new exchange student,” Hoffeditz said. “It was a nice surprise to add to my senior year.”


            As the Club regains its footing, Hoffeditz recommends students should meet the foreign exchange student and be a part of the club.


            “Do it. You get to meet amazing people, whether they are the exchange students or people within the club,” Hoffeditz said, “You get to be apart of their lives, and they will really cherish that. You get a friend and a new adventure by being apart of the club. “

            The Club has been selling water bottles in room 117 and is making monthly deposits to raise money for Club expenses while hoping to boost their participation for the year.

              Get Ready to be at the Courts Around Tennish!

              A Successful Season for Amber Clark and the JBHS Tennis Team


              Sydney Jones

              Amber Clark prepares to hit the tennis ball to win the point.

              The tennis season is short, and the girls have been trying to make the best out of the time that they have together.

              James Buchanan’s girls’ tennis team has been enduring a season filled with ups and downs. They have a record of eight wins and seven losses for this fall.


              This year, the team has 14 girls, but only seven play Varsity. In high school tennis, there are five matches that are played each game, three singles players and two doubles teams, making up seven players that contribute to the points that the team acquires.

              James Buchanan Girl’s Tennis Statistics

              Out of these seven players, one has stood out amongst the rest.


              Amber Clark, 11, has persevered, only losing one match throughout the entire season. She plays number three singles, and has been climbing her way to the top of the team since she was a freshman.


              “I feel like I’m a lot more focused with Tennis than I used to be,” Clark states.


              This increase in concentration has resulted in improvement, which has been a reoccurring theme in her tennis career. Going from junior varsity in ninth grade, to number two doubles her sophomore year, and she continues to prove her drive as number three singles.


              In regards to comparing singles and doubles, Clark explains, “Obviously when you’re playing singles, everything’s on you, to get everything right. There is a little more pressure with not having someone there to help me. I kind of like the freedom a little bit more, being by myself, and being able to play the way I want to.”


              The independence has given Clark a better year than she could have imagined.


              No one was more surprised about Clark’s essentially undefeated season than her, “I really didn’t expect it. I thought getting into singles it would be a lot tougher than doubles, and it is, but I didn’t think I’d be more successful at singles than I was at doubles.”


              Tennis has been a memorable experience for her, and she is very grateful for it.

              Pullquote Photo

              “I feel blessed to have the season that I’m having, and to have the teammates that I have, and the coach that I have. It’s been a great experience,”

              — Amber Clark

              Even though the season may be over, Clark and the other top seven are gearing up for Mid-Penn’s, which are quickly approaching. They will be Oct. 5, 6, and 9, and the girls will be facing off against other teams in their division, hoping to be the best.

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                Sydney Jones