The Rocket Flame

Godspeed Totem Pole

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

While+getting+her+hair+done+by+Claire+Alfree+%2812%29%2C+Kelsi+Parson+%2811%29+ponders+about+Sunday%E2%80%99s+performance.

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.

To Sail or Sink?

Though the Titanic may have sunk over 100 years ago, it will be sailing once more at James Buchanan High School.

To+Sail+or+Sink%3F

The school’s Drama Club will be performing the musical, Titanic that originally debuted on Broadway in 1997. The Broadway performance was nominated and then later came to win five Tony Awards, including “Best Musical” and “Best Score”.

 

“This is not the movie Titanic’. The musical Titanic is not going to feature a Jack or Rose,” Logan Williams (11) said. “It is going to be a more about the historical values of the Titanic. We are going to be portraying real characters that lived on the Titanic and have died.”

Nearly everyone in the cast is named and is based on a real person who sailed on the Titanic.

 

“I play Harold bride, wireless operator with Marconi International Marine Signal Communication Company, Limited,” Williams said.

 

Though knowing who their character really is may help, there can be some difficulties.

 

“The most challenging part of performing is trying to be this character that you’re not,” Williams said. “You have to set aside yourself and you have to put on this disguise, this facade, of someone else, and you have to be that person on stage.”

 

Sydney Jones
Thrilled to be on board, Logan Williams (11) and Allison Collings (11) point out seagulls on the RMS Titanic.

 

The Drama Club has changed course in the past couple of years.

 

“In the past with James Buchanan High School Drama Club, I’ve been in Is He Dead, ‘Jekyll and Hyde, and a couple of Cabarets,” Williams said.

 

This change in direction can be correlated with the change in directors. Mr. Luke Surgeon and Mrs. Kristin Zimmerman became the directors of the Drama Club in 2015.

 

“He [Luke] was actually in charge the year before that for Little Women that would have been three productions ago, four years ago,” Zimmerman said. “But then the year after that, I had the opportunity to be able to do this. I said, ‘How would you like an assistant?‘ He said, ‘I think that’ll work,’ and the rest is history.”

 

They have worked on two productions together, and have hosted some Cabarets as a fundraiser for the Drama Club, but haven’t attempted anything like this.

 

“The story is such an epic, tragic story that just is really interesting to a lot of people, so that should be at the big draw for us, which is good,” Zimmerman said.

 

The students have put in nearly as many hours a week as sports teams in the school.

 

“We get nine hours of practice a week, which is crazy for something like this,” Zimmerman said. “But I think a lot of prep work goes in on students behalf outside of rehearsal too. Clearly, people work on lines and songs, not in here, or else it would not work. So it’s important that people are prepared before they come in.”

 

The dedication needed for the cast and crew is what makes the show come together.

 

“It’s definitely an undertaking for three nights, and then it’s just over,” Zimmerman said.

 

Not only are emotions high for the ending of the performance, but remembering the tragedy they are performing is another dismal feature.

 

“Once you remember that these were real people, and that this really happened to these people, that’s like a whole other aspect of it to me,” Zimmerman said. “So it’s neat to act through something that’s real, which is new for us.”

 

The Titanic sets sail March 16, 17, and 18 at James Buchanan High School, with Williams, Zimmerman, and the rest of the cast and crew.

MisCabaret

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

Her+dress+sparkling+under+the+stage+lights%2C+Olivia+Harmon+%2811%29+performs+%E2%80%9CStars%E2%80%9D+from+Les+Miserables.

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

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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.

The Robotic Future of James Buchanan

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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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