The Rocket Flame

The Secret Life of Shellie Viertz


At a championship swim meet, Shellie Viertz is in charge of coaching several swimmers.

Every day you see and meet new people. You watch people walk by you in the halls, glance at them while driving in your car, or hear about them through stories told by friends or showed in the news. You see their faces and what they wear, but what you are not aware of is their personality, interests, or stories. Shellie Viertz, a pool director at James Buchanan High School, is someone that many people around the school know; however, Viertz is more than just a pool director and lives a unique double life.


When Viertz was 10 years old, her grandma taught her how to sew. Viertz immediately fell in love with the hobby and started to fabricate her own clothes. She also sewed all of her dresses for her school dances and other events.


“When I was a junior and I had a boyfriend who was a senior, I made his tuxedo,” said Viertz. “Then after I made his tuxedo, I made my own dress which matched him. I had never bought a dress.”


Before leaving for the prom, Viertz and her prom date show off the dress and tuxedo Viertz had sewn herself.

After Viertz graduated from college, she worked for the Hagerstown YMCA being an instructor and coach of the swim team. Five years later, Viertz worked for the federal government for 13 years within the Department of Energy. Once Viertz married and had a child, she ended up in Mercersburg and took care of her son full-time.


During this time, Viertz began to bring sewing back into her life by selling teddy bears. Viertz made 50-80 teddy bears while she was taking care of her son. These were all made out of regular, fur fabric. After becoming skilled in making teddy bears, Viertz decided to take it to the next level.


Viertz purchased a half yard of a wool called mohair. Mohair is wool made from the hair of Angora goats. A half yard of mohair costs $250, which is enough to make only one teddy bear.


“I gave my first [mohair teddy bear] to my sister-in-law,” Viertz said, “but then someone saw it and requested for me to make them one. So I bought more mohair and made another one for them.”


Viertz has been the pool director, which manages pool rentals and other jobs needed done around the pool, at James Buchanan for six years and is planning on continuing her job for a while. She also stays after school every day in order to coach the swim team. Although Viertz doesn’t sew nearly as much as she used to, Viertz helps people with alterations or any other little jobs she is asked to do.

Lessen the Stress- How Prom expenses are still rising and how to keep costs down


When you are preparing for what could be the most magical night of your high school career, spending any amount is worth the cost for the perfect dress, a limousine, and pristine hair and nails, right?

With Prom season right around the corner, millions of teens across the country are already getting ready for the event. Though most start the search for a dress early  in the spring to ensure they’ll find the perfect one, saving up for that dress starts even earlier.

According to USA Today, the average American family spent roughly $700 on prom in 2017. That’s a $200 increase from the 2016 Prom season, where according to the Alabama Living Media Group the average teen shelled out over $500 on the event.

The average $700 is made up of dresses that can cost upward of $200, and dinner rounding in around $75 per average couple according to Alabama Living. Along with tickets for the dance itself costing teens at the very least another $50, many families look for ways to cut spending expenses on an extravagant night.

One way in which many girls choose to save money is by thrifting a prom dress. Whether buying a used dress from a friend or purchasing one from a second-hand store, both help make Prom just as special while sticking to a budget.

Another way to keep spending low is by DIY-ing your makeup. The average girl spends $35 to get professional makeup done, but with a good bit of practice and help from friends and family, you can create your own personalized and unique makeup look at a much more pocket-friendly price.

Other ways you can cut costs include: doing your own hair can eliminate $50 hair salon bills, and painting your own nails could save you around $30.   

Carpooling to the dance, and having a formal dinner at a friends house before the dance rather than spending another $50 on eating out can both be ways to lower prom costs.

For guys rather than renting a tuxedo, a cost-efficient way to still look your best is by purchasing a nice suit ensemble. You’ll still look sharp and you’ll be able to get more than one night of wear out of it as it can be worn for other future events. For the rest of your outfit, browsing local thrift shops and online sites for lightly used formal wear can help save money while still dressing sharply.

With prom coming up, taking these tips and using other creative ideas can be super beneficial when trying to plan the most memorable night of the year, while trying to have more fun for less.

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