The Rocket Flame

10 Ways To Make Your Christmas Season Sleigh

After all the turkey and stuffing is gone, and 95.1 immediately begins playing Christmas music, it’s time to get into the Christmas spirit. You can finally crank up “Jingle Bells” and decorate your tree with no judgment of celebrating “too early.” There are many little things you can do to make your Christmas season as festive as possible.


Hershey Sweet Lights in Hershey, PA is a 2-mile drive through about 600 different displays of animated Christmas lights. As you drive through the winding  path, you can tune your radio to the special station that corresponds to the dancing and twinkling lights.

Hershey’s Sweet Lights in Hershey, PA.

Another way to enjoy the Christmas season is to take advantage of the deals when it comes to holiday shopping. Many stores have special promotions going on for buying lots of gifts. Malls and stores are decorated for the season and luring shoppers in with their sales and festive music. Locally, many people go to the Valley Mall or the Hagerstown Premium Outlets to do their holiday shopping.


Immediately after Thanksgiving, the upbeat and happy Christmas music begins to play which makes it obvious that it’s time for the holidays and to celebrate. Listening to Christmas music is a central idea in the holiday season.


“Listening to Christmas songs makes me enjoy this season so much because it just warms my heart how happy everyone gets,” said Lizzie Pittman (12).


One prominent thing in the holidays is shopping for a Christmas tree. Picking out a live Christmas tree is a unique experience when it comes to just getting an artificial tree out of a box every year.


“Finding the perfect Christmas tree with my family really puts me in the holiday spirit,” said Nathan Walls (12).


Another idea is ice skating. Locally, you can go to the Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex and lace up a pair of ice skates. Admission is $5.00 and skate rental is $2.00.


“I really enjoyed going  ice skating my first time”, said Marlee Barry (12), “I liked it so much I actually once thought about taking lessons”.


Many locals in our area also spend time at Whitetail Ski Resort throughout the winter season, whether it’s time spent working, skiing, snowboarding or tubing. Whitetail has not yet opened for the season but will soon begin making snow for lots of skiers and snowboarders to enjoy.


Around this time is when many family members and friends give and receive gifts from one another. Many people participate in “Secret Santa” gift exchanges. Names are drawn out and you must get a gift for that person and keep it a secret until you exchange gifts.


“Secret Santa is a great way to celebrate the holiday because of the suspense and excitement it creates by not knowing who is surprising you”, said Emily Gipe (12).


Student Council also holds the annual Food Drive for the holiday season where students can bring in non-perishable canned goods to donate to families in need. The competition that takes place between the homerooms to win the prize gets lots of students participating.


There are also many other ways to donate back to the community during the holidays. Many “Toys for Tots” boxes and local shelters and organizations are in need of donations.


“We should all aspire to help others because helping other should be a part of your life,” said Mallory Peck (11). “Seeing someone else happy and know you were able to make that happen in some sort of way is one of the best feelings.”


Snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, and sugar cookies are another way add to the holiday season. Many people bake treats to share with friends and family as a miniature present and a way to enjoy each other.


“My family always has a cookie bake day where we all get together at my great aunt’s house to eat lunch, bake cut out cookies, make a craft, and just have a good time in everyone’s company,” said Elena McNulty (11).


Memories and traditions made this time of year become annual and a special part of many people’s Christmas.


“My favorite tradition is playing Hershey Kiss Oven Mitt Relay Race at my Nana’s house after dinner,” said Harley Rife (12). “We put on oven mitts and try to unwrap a Hershey Kiss. When everyone on your team unwraps their candy, they get to open gifts first and also receive a mystery gift.”


When it’s time to relax by the Christmas tree, make sure you include watching lots of Christmas movies. This time of year, many TV channels and apps like Netflix have a wide selection of Christmas movies to enjoy with your families. Some movies to watch on Netflix are How The Grinch Stole Christmas, A Princess Switch, The Christmas Chronicles, and A Christmas Prince.


“All my family watches Hallmark Christmas movies the entire day of Christmas Eve in our matching pj’s and then we make home made cookies for the younger ones to put out for Santa,” said Kali Rotharmel (12).


Many memories can be made and fun can be had while doing activities during Christmas. You can spend time enjoying the weather and seasonal activities, but always remember the real reason for the season and what it means to you.


Investigate the Specifics About Forensics


Just imagine, you are the first one being called to the crime scene, with nobody to tell you what actually happened, you have to figure it out for yourself. Examining the blood splatters, collecting fingerprints, assembling hair samples, and analyzing the fibers, it is up to you to put the pieces together. Forensic science is one of the vital tools used in finding the truth to any situation.


“Forensics is a hands-on class that uses different scientific lab techniques to investigate evidence found at a crime scene,” says James Buchanan Forensics teacher Mrs. Emily Poffenberger (Faculty).


Forensic science is a combination of all different kinds of science including: Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. There is a lot of Chemistry in forensics because you are looking into non-biological evidence found at a crime scene. An example of this would be drug toxicology. According to, a toxicology screen is put into place to test the approximate amount and type of legal or illegal drugs that the person/suspect has taken.  


Biology also shares an important part in forensics because it examines the smaller things like blood, saliva, and hair. This is important because it can determine the DNA structure of the suspect or even the DNA that is on other evidence.

Physics is included in Forensics in terms of gun ballistics, fluid dynamics, vehicle collisions, and finding out heights people fell from. Basically, this helps to figure out what happened to a victim.

“The most challenging part (about forensics) is that you have to be very detail-oriented and you have to be very patient with your observations,” said Evan West (11), who takes forensics. “In a few labs such as fingerprinting and blood analysis, you have to make sure you really pay attention and give the most accurate details you can.”

Details are essential when it comes to being a forensic scientist. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences  stresses “because the work of a forensic scientist is intended to be used in court and because scientific evidence can be very powerful, the forensic scientist must be accurate, methodical, detailed, and, above all, unbiased. The ability to keep detailed notes and to write clear, concise, and accurate reports is vital.”

Details and scientific evidence are what can make a court full of judges and the jury, go in favor, or go against the accused.


Some of the fields that one can get into using Forensics include, “Crime scene investigator, anyone in law enforcement, pathologist, or a psychologist,” ”

— Poffenberger

With getting a degree in Biology, Poffenberger took all the sciences required to teach general science. By passing her Praxis exam, it allowed her to teach any general science course. Poffenberger keeps up to date with all the new discoveries and technologies with updated textbooks and articles she reads online.

“After taking the class and learning about all the different types of forensic scientists, it helped me realize that this is a field I’m very interested in,” said Emily Gipe (11) about her future. “Out of the many types of careers in this field, I’m looking towards criminology, which is the study of what makes people commit the crimes they do and their motives for the crime. Basically, looking more into the mind of a criminal.”


The Forensics class mostly involves completing labs and discussing scenarios. One scenario that the class takes part in entails looking at a purse given by the teacher with evidence and clues of who committed the crime. It is then the students job to piece the evidence together, then analyze the suspects with certain information given. These types of projects allows the students to act like a real forensic scientist.


“Right now we are doing a lab about blood splatter,” said student Madison Hann (11). “We are dropping liquid at different heights by ten centimeters. We also read case studies about real crimes that have happened and we do a lot of questions to go with them.”


From the classroom to a crime scene, the Forensics class is learning how to do it all.


“I would especially suggest this class to anyone interested in forensic science in their future,” said Gipe. “It really allows you to actually experience what real forensic scientists do.”


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Emily Gipe