The Rocket Flame

A Day in the Life of Mr. Bradley


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

Former JBMS Science teacher,  Mr. Thomas Bradley (Faculty) took the position of Assistant Principal of James Buchanan High School.  The transition from teacher to principal has been overwhelming but in a good way.

“The analogy I have been giving most people is that as a teacher I was able to control my day and now my day as an Assistant Principal is dictated by others,” said Bradley. “The part I enjoy the most is the interactions I get to have with all the different people.”

The hardest thing for Bradley was getting use to others commanding his time.  Now as Bradley fills his new role, no day is the same. As an Assistant Principal, Bradley communicates with parents, students, teachers, and administrators.

“Mr. Bradley is really nice,” said Brenden Wingate (10).“When I’m in trouble he’ll approach me and we will talk about it in a civilized way.”

Most people do not realize just how busy a day in the life of an Assistant Principal is, but in fact, it is jammed packed with meetings, phone calls, and many surprise incidents.  A typical day for Bradley is shown in the timeline below.

A Day in the Life of Life Skills: More Than Just A Class


Edward Leevy (10) smiling for a picture while unloading boxes

   Throughout the school day, your routine probably consists of doing the same things, but have you ever thought about how some other classes spend their day?

  The Life Skills Class routine ranges to something different every day. A couple days a week, a group of kids will go to Mercersburg Academy and help clean up the dining hall. If it is a work day, the students leave after the announcements and help at their assigned area for a couple of hours.

  Then, two days a week, the students go to Target and help there, too. Their duties change daily Some days they will unload trucks that come in, and other days they stock up the shelves with the items that are delivered.

  “It helps them with things they will need in their everyday lives and in a job,” said Mrs. Kristy Horst (Faculty).

  The students not only learn what it is like to have a job and a set routine, but also how to interact with people. Working at Target and the Academy gives them that chance.

  After the students come back from their duties, they will go and have lunch together during 8th period. When lunch is over, they then go to Art.

   “I think the most important part is that they’re just able to come in and unwind and be creative and whoever they wanna be,” said Maggie Strawoet (12). 


Gregory Murray (11) works on his art project with his classmates Kaitlyn Miller (9) and Justin Mellott (9)

For most of them, it is their favorite period of the day. They do different art projects together and on Fridays, Mrs. Kayla Chambers-Matulevich (Faculty) plays songs they suggest.

  Lastly, the students finish their day by helping out in the school. During 10th period, several students go and empty all the recycling bins in the classrooms. They then take it outside to the larger recycling bin. This gives the students an opportunity to clean and help out all the teachers.

  Now even though every day differs, this is what a typical day looks for this class. Through spending time together, all of the students have formed friendships with not only each other but with their peers throughout the school and community, and they certainly are a light in the school.


A Day in the Life of Mr. Strawoet

One thing that is really important within the athletic department is the scheduling of the games. Mr. Larry Strawoet (Faculty) deals with the “behind the scenes” of the sports played at James Buchanan High School.


6:30 a.m – 7:00 a.m. – Strawoet arrives at the office between 6:30 and 7:00. Before Strawoet starts his day, he looks at the schedule to see which sports have games and where. If there are away games for that day, he takes care of the transportation for those teams. Afterwards, he gets the early dismissals ready so that they can be announced in the morning for those specific athletes. He tries to make sure that all of the fields are ready and touches base with the maintenance staff that the fields are getting aligned.


7:30 a.m – 11:30 a.m –  During this time, the director’s office is normally empty. Mr. Strawoet is rarely at his desk because he is always on the move, always prioritizing with making sure that everything is moving smoothly.


11:35 a.m – 12:15 p.m. – During this time, Strawoet gets his lunch break when he is scheduled to do lunch duty during period 4/5. Sometimes, he does not have time to get lunch because he is doing something else, which can be rescheduling games or any number of responsibilities.


Strawoet deals with the cancellations of the different sports games. He has four different weather maps on his phone. If there is inclement weather happening at the locations of the games, there will be a discussion with the other school and coaches. If the games are home, then he will have to consult with maintenance.


“It is very hard to judge whether or not to cancel games due to weather,” Strawoet said. “But in the end, it is all about the health and safety of the kids. We want our athletes to be healthy and injury-free and if that means we have to cancel a game, then that is what we will do.”


12:20 a.m – 3:15 p.m – After lunch, he may go back to his office to take care of a couple of things before he leaves his office once again. Sometimes, he will check with the coaches to make sure of the game times so that they both are on the same page. Strawoet has to make sure that there are officials for the events and makes sure that he has paychecks for them.


After school until 8:00 p.m. – Strawoet prepares the menu for the concession stands for the home games. This means the beverages and the snacks in the stands are all prepared. Then he moves on to get the press box ready. He has to make sure that there is help at the home games to take tickets.


8:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. – At this time, Strawoet makes sure that the next day’s games are all organized. Then he goes to the fields and makes sure they are all cleaned up and ready to go for the next day before he leaves to go home.


9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. – Finally after sporting events held at the high school are over, Strawoet gets in his car to go home to his family. He gets as much sleep as possible in order to be ready for the next day.


“My day seems pretty hectic at times, but the nice part about my day is that every day is different,” Strawoet said.


Strawoet is the first one to arrive at the fields and the last to leave. His days can be somewhat chaotic when there are quite a number of tasks on his plate, but he likes what he does and he wishes to continue as long as he can. He cherishes his job and everyone he connects with.

I get to deal with exceptional young athletes and I get to have relationships with teachers, administrators, staff, opponents, teams, and many others and that’s the joy of this job. The relationships that I have had over the years I value the most.”

— Mr. Strawoet


A Day In the Life of Dr. Stokes

Many jobs go unnoticed but are essential to make a school district work. One of these jobs is that of our business director, Dr. Marcia Stokes. I was given the opportunity to shadow Stokes to find out just how much she does that goes unnoticed.


7:30 a.m.-8:50 a.m.- Stokes came into Central Office at 7:30 a.m. and started her day by replying to emails and making phone calls. This particular day, she introduced me to everyone in the office, so at 8 a.m., she began her emailing and calling. By half-past eight, she had made numerous phone calls about several topics such as the swimmers going to States, training staff, and volunteers.


In between phone calls and emails, Stokes explained how things worked around Central Office. There are many people that complete tons of jobs and tasks, such as Mrs. Loretta Miller, who is the administrative assistant to the Superintendent, but she also works on contracts, scholarships, and many other activities.


Even though all the members of Central Office have numerous jobs to complete throughout the day, they all work together to better our district.


“The more we improve, the better service we can provide our community, our teachers, and our students,” said Stokes.


8:50 a.m.- 10:11 a.m.- At this time, Stokes arrived at the high school to conduct an interview with a prospective head janitor, along with Mrs. Sharon Miller, Human Resources Director, and Mr. Stanley Morgan, Facilities Director.  After Stokes asked several interview questions, she then took the interviewee to an empty boys’ bathroom and classroom to inquire how he would clean the room. As the time wound down, she gave him a tour of some of the major areas of the school, such as the gymnasium, auditorium, and pool.

Stokes ensured that the candidate holds the same ideals that the rest of the district does, which she thinks is the most important quality we have.

“I think everybody’s heart is in the right place in this district,” said Stokes.“I think that they see the potential, they see the awesome kids, great teachers that we have, and everybody is just trying to figure out how they can contribute to the district.”

“I am in a position that I can make a difference,” Stokes said. “And in this district, I can make a difference to 2,500 kids every single day that I come in here, along with 165 teachers, hundreds of support staff, and thousands of community members.”  ”


10:11 a.m.- Once the interview was finished, Stokes headed back to Central Office to attend a meeting with MissionOne, a company that provides our district with staff to assist the students throughout their school day. In this meeting, Stokes and Miller listened to the company’s concerns and discussed how to make the system run more efficiently.


11:12 a.m.-12:16 p.m.- Once the meeting was ended, Stokes headed back to her office and started looking over invoices and journal entries that another Central Office worker, Mrs. Ann Brindle, dropped off. Before signing off on the papers, if she saw something that did not make sense, she would inquire throughout the office to make sure the information was correct.


While constantly making sure our district is headed in the right direction, Stokes is in correspondence with many people, whether in or out of the office.


“I have always had pretty demanding jobs, so it wouldn’t be normal for my day to end at four o’clock, and I went home and didn’t have to think about work or do anything with work,” said Stokes. “Many of the jobs you are on call or responding to emails till 9 or ten o’clock at night.”


Stokes is a busy woman, but she likes to find ways to take her mind off of work to improve her work ethic.


“Anytime that I can, even if it is like getting away for a weekend or what not, I love to travel. My family and I got into RVing a few years ago,” said Stokes. “The one thing I like to do when I travel, especially when I go RVing, is I try and break away and focus on family and not focus on work, so when I come back I’m refreshed.”


12:16 p.m.-1:02 p.m.- At this point in time, Mr. Rick Burkett, Curriculum Director, came in to tell us it was lunchtime. On this day, the office staff was having a St. Patrick’s Day potluck. With a variety of food, everyone gathered into the meeting room to eat together around the table.


1:02 p.m.-1:36 p.m.- During this time, Stokes went back to her office to look over more documents. Morgan comes in with a survey for Stokes. Schools are asked to participate in these facility surveys in order to collect data from the buildings. This data can range from the number of custodians to how many A/C units there are. If the school participates, they get results from other schools to see where they need to improve their facilities.


1:36 p.m.-2:45 p.m.- A woman from the district’s insurance company came in to go over the renewed insurance package for the district. Some of the subjects that went over were coverage for drones, the district’s vehicles and the drivers, weapon holders, and non-weapon holders. At one point, Morgan made another reappearance to talk about inspections on elevators and wheelchair lifts. During this meeting, Mr. Larry Strawoet, Athletic Director, and Ms. Amanda Charron, Athletic Trainer, came in to meet with both the insurance company and Stokes.


2:45 p.m.-3:05 p.m.- After the insurance meeting, Stokes and I sat down for an interview.


3:05 p.m.- To finish up her day after I completed my interview, she settled back down at her desk continue with the invoices and other various paperwork.


Although her life is busy, Stokes makes the best out of it by continuing to learn. Even now, she is still taking college courses, but they are not the only way she learns. Hands-on experiences also help her gain knowledge.


“I’ve stripped and waxed floors in schools, simply because I wanted to work alongside custodians and wanted them to teach me what they do so I can better understand their job,” Stokes said. “I’m not afraid to YouTube something and figure out how to do it. It doesn’t matter what it is, I always kinda view it as ‘Why can’t I do it, too?”‘

“I always kind of feel like any new experience is going to add a little piece and a better-rounded person.””

What We Learned- After shadowing the school district’s business director, Dr. Marcia Stokes, we learned how much she does for the district. She spends her days in meetings, looking over important documents, and using past experiences to assure that our district is advancing.


A lot of jobs go unnoticed. Many people at the Central Office dedicate their day to making ours better. Dr. Stokes is one of these people, but she is not alone; all of these people do so much for the district, and for that, we are all thankful.

A Day In the Life of Mrs. Amsley

Have you ever wondered who is behind student scheduling, report cards and grades? I was able to follow Angie Amsley (Faculty) the principal’s secretary to find out just what she does in a day.


7:00 a.m. – Amsley is the first person to arrive she opens up the school and welcomes the staff as they roll in. She starts her mornings managing the front office as she checks to see if any of the teachers are going to be out. She then organizes and prepares coverages for the teachers and substitutes. Her daughter Grace Amsley (11) keeps her mother company as she waits for the bus to the Franklin County Career & Technology Center.


Amsley sits at the front office in the morning scheduling coverages for the day.

The day I followed only two teachers were out so coverages weren’t too difficult. John Lum (Faculty) was the first teacher to arrive coming in at a little after 7:00 a.m. and Mr. Rodney Benedick (Faculty) the principal of James Buchanan arrived at 7:20.


8:00 a.m. -Amsley makes her way back to her office and finishes the coverages. She organizes and gives Benedick all the papers he needs to sign, like trip forms and club approvals. Two additional teachers were now off, so it was Amsley’s responsibility to prepare their coverages. Mrs. Suzanne Palmerchuck (Faculty), is the In-Building Substitute, whose job is to be at the high school to cover any positions. If there is no position that needs to be covered she goes to the other schools in the district to help. That day Palmerchuck was covering a class at the Mercersburg Elementary


y and she was needed to cover the library. Amsley spent most of the morning making phone calls to try to see if Palmerchuck was still available for coverage. After some time Amsley decided to close the library since there was no coverage. She was then called into Benedick’s office to discuss the Christmas gifts for the administrative staff.


9:00 a.m. – Amsley checks over timesheets for extra staff such as lifeguards. She makes sure all the time sheets are signed and correct, then sends them to Central Office. She then continues making calls and sending emails to Central Office, teachers, parents and other people in the district, and working on anything Benedick gives her to do. While doing all this, school staff will continually come into her office asking questions and asking her about things they need done.

The day I followed, she also called down a lifeguard that needed to sign their time sheet. Amsley also talked with the other secretaries about how to count the time of tardies and early dismissals. The discussion resulted in Mrs. Mary Cristafano (Faculty) making a cheat sheet for timing absences.



10:00 a.m- 12:00 p.m. – Here Amsley takes care of a variety of things. Some days she might work on preparing a schedule for a new student, help prepare emergency drills, or fix any problems on the school portal. Every event that happens at the school is cleared and approved by Amsley; that includes pool rentals, music concerts, assemblies, etc. She finalizes the events by putting it on the calendar. Amsley knows everything that happens at the school.

Amsley makes copies of coverages to handout.

The day I followed, Amsley continued to work on the Christmas gifts that Benedick wanted. A student comes down asking for help to get onto their portal and Amsley quickly takes care of the problem.


12:45 p.m.- 1:00 p.m. – At this time Amsley goes home for lunch and while she’s there takes care of her two St. Bernards: Copper and Gus.


1:00 p.m. – Amsley continues emailing, calling and answering any questions that staff and students might have. Every day is a little different with different things happening.


The day I followed, Amsley went to help Athletic Director Mr. Larry Strawoet (Faculty) with technology difficulties. When back at her office, Amsley and Benedict determined what the Christmas gifts should look like. Over the hour a few people came asking questions about attendance and looking to talk to Mr. Benedick.


2:00 p.m.- 3:30 p.m. – Since each day is different, Amsley will work on anything that needs to be done. Once the bell rings for the students to leave, Amsley waits until all subs have clocked out and then she is able to pack up and leave for the day. At the beginning of the year, she deals a lot with schedule changes, like when students want drop classes or change lunches. She is also very involved with the food drive, communicating between the school and the families receiving the food. Amsley also prepares the rooms and proctors for all standardized tests in the school like the Keystones and PSATs. She makes sure every guideline is followed and correct. May is the busiest time of the year, with graduation, tests, and final grades all having to be completed.


The day I followed a package arrived with a new receiver for the announcement board at the end of the road. The old one had fallen off in a storm and was ruined by the rain. Amsley called up TechOps to let them know it arrived. She also made a new ID card for a student that lost him and sent the Honor Roll list to the newspaper.


What we learned-  From following the principal’s secretary, Mrs. Amsley, we learned that she knows everything that is happening and is a key component to running this school. She can help answer any problems that might arise, and every day for Amsley is a new day where she never knows what might happen.


The truth of the matter is: nothing in this school happens without the help of Mrs. Amsley, and for that, we are grateful for all her help.

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