The Rocket Flame

Small Town Takes On Big World!


After hiking up to the waterfall at Rincon De La Vieja National park, the group poses for a picture in the middle of the rainforest.

Howler monkeys, exotic plants, hikes to a volcano, hot springs, and lots of mosquitoes are everything a group of 18 students endured while traveling on a nine-day journey to Costa Rica.


This is not the first time Mr. John Lum (Faculty) has traveled with students to Costa Rica; he took a trip there in 2015 and he liked it so much he wanted to go back. With sign-ups starting back in the fall of 2016, the students have been waiting two years for the chance to travel out of the country. On June 9 the students said goodbye to their parents for nine days as they gathered into a van that departed to catch their flight.


“I was so excited up until that moment when I realized I’ve never been gone that long away from anyone before,” Madison Shupp (12) said.


When traveling anywhere, you have to do your research on what the weather will be, what to pack, the environment, etc. A passport and vaccines were necessary for traveling. The centers for disease control and prevention said, “Although the risk of malaria is low in Costa Rica, you should avoid mosquito bites to prevent malaria. Some travelers to certain areas who are at higher risk for complications from malaria (such as pregnant women) may need to take extra precautions, like antimalarial medicine.”

“I had to pack a lot of sunscreen, bug repellent, and athletic clothes,” ”

— Makena Clayton (11).


Leaving early in the morning from Dulles International Airport, with a seven-hour flight to Panama City, Panama, the travelers had a six-hour layover until they had to catch their connecting flight to Costa Rica. With time to kill, students came up with some creative ways to make it go faster.


“I slept under the chairs in the airport, and then I went to look for food,” Shupp said.  


Once the six hours had passed, the group got onto the connecting flight and headed to Costa Rica. After about an hour flight, everyone went through customs and picked up their baggage. They were then picked up by the EF (Education First) tour bus and tour guide. Once loaded, they met up with the group from Kansas that they would also be traveling with. The group then headed to their first destination, Guanacaste. Starting off, the first day they traveled to Rincon De La Vieja National park to hike up the side of a volcano and see the numerous sulfur pools.


“It was a pretty long hike up to the volcano,” said Clayton


The park is one of the many national parks in the Guanacaste conservation. Go Visit Costa Rica says it has over 34,000 acres of land, two volcanoes, and 32 rivers and streams. There the students and chaperones were taken on a hike by the tour guide where they saw all kinds of plants and animals. The next day was filled with activity that didn’t require hiking shoes but swimsuits; snorkeling.


   “We got stung by jellyfish particles,” said Shupp. “Which left welts on my fingers.”


   Even with the welts and stings, the group also got to pet a baby octopus that was found by one of the tour guides. Moving along, the next day the group went to La Fortuna in the province of Alajuela. There, pairs were decided for each boats to go kayaking on Lake Arenal. Half way through the trip, everyone was then given the chance to carefully get out of his or her kayak and jump in the cold water. With wet clothes still on, the whole group then loaded back on the bus and went to their next location.


   “The waterfall was incredible and the view was amazing,” said Clayton. “At first, I was hesitant to get in the water because it was cold, but it was fun.”


   Taking about 15 minutes to walk down the steps to get to the waterfall, everyone was surprised to see gallons of water gush right in the middle of the jungle. Everyone was given the chance to swim in the strong current as it raced past the multiple rocks surrounding the falls. Whitewater rafting was next on the agenda for the next day.


“I was so excited to go whitewater rafting until the instructor started talking about the bad experiences,” said Shupp.


With only three people falling out of the raft, the whole group persevered through the fast rapids and high rocks. Halfway through, the rafts stopped for fresh pineapple and watermelon, which was then accompanied by cliff jumping into the river. After lunch, everyone was then taken ziplining which would allow you to be in the canopy of the jungle. With multiple shortstops, it was ended by a mile long ride across the river and back to where everyone started. Getting back on the bus, everyone then traveled to Tortuguero which could only be accessed by boat.


“My favorite animal in Tortuguero was definitely the monkeys because I have never seen wild ones before,” said Clayton.


Taking a boat to Tortuguero, multiple animals were seen sitting/resting along the river. The three types of monkeys (Howler, Spider, and Capuchin) were commonly seen in the trees and heard all throughout the day. The day was spent at the beach and exploring the city and taking in the culture. Taking the boat ride back, everyone then had to endure the rather long bus ride to the capital of Costa Rica San Jose.


“It was very different from the rest of Costa Rica,” said Shupp.


The capital is very much a city type atmosphere, very different from the jungle and dirt roads everyone was used to. With a population of about 400,000 people, commercial restaurants and stores that are around Mercersburg were seen. With the week coming to an end, everyone was ready for the flight out of San Jose back to Dulles International Airport.


With the warm embraces from parents and siblings, students and chaperones returned back to the high school after nine days of packed schedules and physical activity. With lots of souvenirs and pictures to go around, everyone will have stories and memories that will last a lifetime.


Behind the Throne


Under the Friday night lights of Rocket Stadium, the 2019 Homecoming King and Queen were crowned.

Shupp (12) and Cormac Houpt (12) accepted their crowns after a eventful week of participating in spirit days and games during the pep rally. But what is it really like to be Homecoming King and Queen? What goes on behind the scenes?


Candidates campaigned all week to try to get votes from the student body. Posters and banners were hung all around the building to grab the attention of students. Some candidates even passed out cupcakes and candy to persuade students.


“Campaigning was awesome! I know that Kayla Locke (12) and I had a fun time participating,” said Houpt.


Some friendly competition went on to see who could go all out with the school spirit to rack in the votes since court couples were running against each other.


“Campaigning was really fun!,” said Shupp. “It was a little intimidating for Scott and I when we saw how much Kayla and Cormac were participating in Spirit Week.”


Banners advertising “Vote for Madi & Scott” and “Kayla and Cormac for Hoco King/Queen” were posted in the front of the cafeteria. In addition, posters with catchphrases and funny pictures were posted on lockers, doors, and even in the gym locker rooms.


“It took us a while to come up with catchy sayings for our signs, but we pretty much made all of the signs during activity period and study halls,” said Shupp.


Other candidates used another way to easily spread the word to many people at just the touch of their fingertips by snapping a picture and posting it to Snapchat.


“We didn’t do many banners,” said Houpt. “Most of out advertising was social media.”


The candidates also dressed up and participated in the spirit days. This years’ spirit days were Lounge Day, Dynamic Duo Day, Monsters University Day, Kingdoms Day and JB Spirit Day.


“My favorite spirit day was the JB Spirit Day,” said Shupp. “It was nice to see everyone in green and white and excited for the football game.”

Each couple dressed to correspond with who they were running with. Each day involved a new outfit to catch the attention of their peers.

“Scott and I would talk each night to plan out what we were going to do for the following day,” said Shupp.


After a week full of school spirit and participating in the pep rally, the candidates lined up on the track during halftime of the football game and anxiously waited for the results.

“I was very excited when I was crowned king,” said Houpt. “I knew it would be close because there was so many good candidates.”


To future Homecoming candidates, many students have passed through and became king and queen and many will do it after. This years’ seniors have some advice for next years’ candidates.  


“Just have fun with it! It’s a blast and it will be a memory you won’t forget!” said Shupp.


Homecoming: Let Me See Your Green and White!

With Homecoming week, game, and dance quickly approaching, the JBHS students are ready to showcase their school spirit!


StuCO prepares for Homecoming with signs that explains the theme days of the week.

As the streamers are ready to be hung, the balloons being filled with air, the votes being counted for Homecoming king and queen, and the bitter October air, everyone knows that that means! The James Buchanan High School is preparing for the well known event, Homecoming.


“Homecoming is the first dance of the year, it is the freshman’s first dance and they get to see how different it is from middle school.” Said Gwenhvier Hunt, 11, a student who has been attending the Homecoming dances since freshman year.


Homecoming this year will be on Oct. 7 from 7-10 p.m. in the James Buchanan High School cafeteria. The Homecoming game and parade will be on Oct. 6. The parade consists of school groups who volunteer to showcase themselves as they walk down the track. The football game will be up against our competitors Frederick High School.


Performing at the football game, the JBHS Rocket Band will be showcasing their show, “Classical Madness.” The Rocket Band will also be saying goodbye to their many seniors as they walk down the track with their parents.


Also walking with their parents across the field, the seniors of both the football team and cheerleading squad get praised for their personal accomplishments throughout the year with lots of clapping and support from their peers


“It’s really fun to do all the dress ups, and to participate in the activities.” Hunt explained her thoughts on the Homecoming spirit days.



The JBHS Student Council puts on certain theme days of the week, and will ask the students to  get in on the spirited fun. Monday is Decade Day, where you dress up from your favorite decade of time. Tuesday is Twin Day, where two people dress alike to show school spirit. Wednesday people will show off their ball gowns and bling with a “Walk Down the Red Carpet.”  Thursday is a throw back to when you were a child. Friday dig out the black spirit wear so you can show school spirit with a total blackout at the game and pep rally.


The Student Council, as well as the Homecoming king and queen candidates work hard to go above and beyond to get the student body hyped by participating in all the spirit days and using this week to hopefully gain your vote.


The 2017 Homecoming candidates for the boys are: Jae-Lin Carmack, Jackson Ellis, Noah Shank, Austin Sheppard, and Hunter Sowers.  For the girls the candidates are:  Kirstyn Black, Megan Hoffeditz, Abby Mackling, Mackenzie Shughart, and Renee Sollenberger.


The student body will cast their votes the week of Homecoming. The votes will then be counted, and the winner will be announced at the Homecoming game on Friday. 


The Homecoming pep rally takes weeks of planning. “It takes a while to figure out what kind of games the candidates are gonna do and who all is going to perform and what is gonna happen in what order,” said StuCo Vice President Madison Shupp.


The pep rally that takes place on that Friday of homecoming week, is a chance to get students excited about the game and parade that night.


“The pep rally isn’t just thrown together at the last minute,””

— Madison Shupp


 In the 2017 Homecoming pep rally, you will see school spirit being represented by The JBHS Rocket Band, the JBHS cheerleaders, sports teams, and then will end the program with some fun and games with the candidates.


With the festivities ending on Friday, the part everyone looks forward to happens Saturday night as you “walk the red carpet” to the Homecoming dance.


“I like getting all dressed up and the preparation that comes with it….I can’t wait to make memories that I can make and take to college” Katlin Shatzer, 12, said about her last  homecoming dance.


According to Student Council, the dance is going to be like you are walking down the red carpet into a glamorous setting filled with Hollywood props, with colors of gold, silver and lots of glitter. Also the dance floor will be filled with well known music from a local DJ. The 2017 Homecoming dance is destined to be a memory that you will remember forever.


Navigate Left
  • Mamma Mia!


    Mamma Mia!

  • Dancing on Valentine


    Dancing on Valentine’s

  • A Recital To Remember


    A Recital To Remember

  • Valentines Day in One Word


    Valentines Day in One Word

  • New Years Resolution


    New Years Resolution

  • Almost, Maine


    Almost, Maine

  • Christmas in One Word


    Christmas in One Word

  • What


    What’s Your Number Mean?

  • Tuff Puff


    Tuff Puff

  • Black Friday flyers


    Black Friday

Navigate Right
The Student News Site of James Buchanan High School
Madison Shupp