The Rocket Flame

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.

“Classical” Madness Takes Over the Rocket Band

JBHS Drum line, Noah Shank (12), Sarah Funk (12), Zach Slodysko (10), Jacob Troupe (10), Sean Martin (12), Olivia Harman (11), watch the drum majors to stay with tempo. Photo Credit: Dean King

During the 2017 JBHS Marching Band field show, you get to watch the insanity unravel throughout the band as they perform, “Classical Madness.” As the story unfolds, the students’ seemingly cohesive minds turn mad with pieces of music that mesh and intertwine together, and tunes that never finish.


“Classical Madness” is a combination of 40 different pieces of music, including pieces from famous composers Beethoven, Holst, and Copland. The song is arranged by composer John Fannin.


The band is under the direction of band director, Mrs. Sheryl Deike (Faculty), assistant band director Mrs. Christine Metcalf (Faculty), color guard instructor Rachel Deike (Staff), and drill writer and percussion instructor Michael Seville (Staff).

Mrs. Christine Metcalf (Faculty), Mrs. Sheryl Deike (Faculty), Rachel Deike (Staff), Michael Seville (Staff).

“It’s the hardest show, us as a band, has ever done,” said Abby Carbaugh (11). “It pushes us in a good way.”


Led onto the field by drum majors Claire Alfree (12) and Ashley Grove (11), the first song of the show exhibits sanity. With only limited bursts of red, the band builds up for the absurdity to come. The featured soloists for the first song are Jarrett Iverson (11) on trombone, Kirstyn Black (12) on clarinet, Emily Newman (11) on mellophone, and Noah Shank (12) on snare drum.


The second song features dancer Chelsea Wareham (11) as she tempts senior soloist Macey Keefer with a flute to entice her, as well as the rest of the band, to join the “madness.” As the song progresses, Wareham will start to win over others, bringing them to the side of musical insanity.


At the beginning of the show, the Color Guard members are dressed with dark purple vests with black lipstick to accentuate the “madness.” The Color Guard opens their show with limited pops of the color red.

Spinning with swing flags Gwenhvier Hunt (11) and Phylan Cooper (12) anticipate their next move. Photo Credit: Dean King

As the show progresses, the color red is presented more to the audience. With the final push of the last song, the Color Guard switches their ascots that were once white, to dark red, to show the audience the exact moment they have been consumed by the “madness.” It is also accompanied by red flags and scarves that are used to dance with in the “tango” part of the third song.


The band also displays this theme, because what the crowd doesn’t know is that every band member has a red scarf tucked away inside their uniform jacket. Then at the given time, the band members drape the scarf out of their jacket and the color red coats the field.


The JBHS Rocket Band doesn’t just perform half-time shows at football games; they also travel to competitions in the area. Being part of USBands, the band competes against other schools in the 3A Division, which is determined based on the numbers of participants.


On Sept. 17, the band traveled to a competition in Urbana, MD, where the Color Guard came in third out of five and the percussion took home second.


On Oct. 21, the band traveled to Westminster, MD where the whole band came in seventh out of nine competing bands.


The band will continue to prepare for the USBands championships that will be held on Nov. 5, in Allentown, PA.


With three-hour practices on Mondays, after-school practices on Wednesdays, and the all-day competitions that take place on some Saturdays, the band members always find ways to bond and create memories.


“Last year Emily Newman broke her glasses and we taped them with duct tape and she wore them the whole time,” Dawson Green (11) chuckled as he shared his favorite memory.


As the 2017 JBHS Marching Band season is quickly coming to an end, Indoor Guard and Percussion sign ups are posted outside the band room. No previous music background is required for this activity. An Indoor Meet and Greet will be held on Nov. 14 at 6 P.M. inside the Band room for anyone who is interested.


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