Interviewing and writing with a deadline

Thursday’s Young Observers meeting focused primarily on a writing activity where the students were paired off. From there, they came up with seven questions to ask the other and formulate some type of story from the interview and answers.

As one can see by the stories, the Young Observers had fun with the activity.

Flipside interviews


By Nicole Bakaitis

Julia (Felton) is a 14-year-old student who attended Canon-Mac. In her free time, she enjoys karate. Julia’s favorite time of the year is spring and, because she doesn’t know names of many cat species, her favorite breed of cat is Siamese. Also, she likes the color purple and her favorite book series is the Hunger Games trilogy. Though I don’t know Julia very well, I think she is an interesting person.

By Julia Felton

Nicole (Bakaitis), a student at Washington Junior-Senior High School, is an only child. Her favorite subject in school is currently science, but she is not a fan of math class. After reading The Hobbit last year, she says it is one of her favorite books, but there are many books she considers to be among her favorites. Though is not currently involved in any sports. Nicole enjoys coming to Flipside meetings on Thursdays.

By Soma Hannon

Once there was a girl called Sarah. (Flipside advisor) Sarah (Bell) was a dog person growing up, as there was never a moment there wasn’t a dog in her house. When faced with the responsibility of feeding and caring for a small animal, she became a cat person. Her favorite color is Crayola’s battery-charge blue, and in keeping with that, her favorite Pokémon is Squirtle. She prefers horses over all other land mammals, and, when pressed, revealed her secret favorite constellation is Orion. She likes to hand out with her twin sister, watch movies on Netflix and dance awfully alone in her room. Sarah works for the Observer-Reporter, where she pours her bitter, dogless feelings into her ruthless editing.

By Sarah Bell (Flipside advisor)

Soma (Hannon) is distracted, uncomfortable and fidgeting.

It might be because, as she said, she’s “weird around other people.”

Or maybe it’s because her friend, Nicole, is touching her – she “doesn’t like to be touched unexpectedly.”

She’s trying to focus. We have to switch seats.

Soma is still fidgeting, bit this time under the pressure of a question – “Who inspires you?”

She’s takes a few deep breaths, then decides on her answer, “My cousin, I guess. She’s been through a lot and she’s really strong.”

Soma focuses long enough to say she likes cats, science and “Doctor Who.”

She’s distracted again. Nicole’s looking at her. In fact, she made it clear that if she were to update her Facebook status right now, it would say, “Nicole is being really annoying at the moment.”

But, Soma said she would mess up Nicole’s name (and call her Noelle) to bother her right back.

Sweet revenge.

By Julia Vilencia

Green, black, white, red, orange, gold, blue, pink, brown. These are the colors of the bracelets that cover Jenna Elizabeth Ronto’s right arm. She is a left-handed, Eragon-referencing, ten-shoe wearing girl with a blue toothbrush. She loves to read, listen to music and jog.

Jenna parts her hair to the side and she ties her shoelaces like bunny ears. Her bracelets are memories from camp and friends, presents and things she made herself. She would love to be a dragon and she met her best friend in – wait, let her count her fingers – fifth grade. She has a soft smile that crinkles her eyes a little and when thinking, she puts her right thumb under her chin.

By Jenna Ronto

Julia (Vilencia) is a girl. She enjoys boats. I believe she is a Doctor Who fan. She prefers llamas over alpacas. Her favorite book, after contemplating her infinite choices, is The Memory of Darkness on Julia’s favorite beverage is virgin Shirley Temples, a drink that is a mixture of sprite and cherry juice. If she could live anywhere, she would live in a home with two floors, an attic and a big yard. Julia, if given a chance to own one, would rather have a dragon than a unicorn. This person recognizes the word zar’roc, which mean misery, from a book named Eragon. Julia’s favorite celebrity would be Tatiana Meslany.

By Brittany Tender

When I asked Alex York about where he goes to school, he excitedly responded, “Home!”

York is a typical high school student, but rather than attend a school every day, he logs onto it. Cyber school has afforded him full control of his lesson plan – something public students don’t have.

He says he wouldn’t go to a public school, even for a day. “I wouldn’t want to wake up any earlier than I already do,” he replied.

When not “at school,” York spends his time playing video games, taking karate lessons and writing for Flipside – though he adds he doesn’t have much free time. He doesn’t have a solid plan for his future, but he is thinking about a career in writing or law.

By Alex York

Japan: The place on Earth where Brittany Tender would most like be and home to the internationally popular Pokémon, any of which he would immediately take the chance to interact with in some way if he could. If he were to ever go there, Tender states that he would want to explore the country’s culture and meet new people with his sister, Corrina, at his side. “I think it’s interesting, diverse and different from the United States,” claims Tender. Tender also stated that he would most like to eat Pocky while in the country, along with waffles, a personal favorite, if given the chance.

By Grace Scofield

Amanda Reilly’s ideal week consists of art, acting, dancing, reading, writing, action movies and kids movies like “Frozen.” Her favorite day of the week is Wednesday, keeping up the true Hump Day spirit. She loves going on vacation to Florida and going to her favorite restaurant there, Post Corners. In the future, she would like to live in either Florida, England France or Greece.

By Amanda Reilly

Today, I interviewed Grace Scofield and found out some very interesting things about her. I have hardly talked to herm, so getting to interview her was a lot of fun. I found out her favorite memory is of her and her sister playing with Barbie dolls. When I asked her about her favorite book, she answered, “Cinders and Saphires.” Her hobbies include writing, cross-stitch, doing her nails and shopping. She joined Flipside because she thought it would be really cool. Her middle name is Elizabeth. She has two pets, a cat and a gerbil. Lastly, I found out her favorite color is pink. Getting to interview Grace was really cool because I got to find out some interesting things about her.

By Noelle McKinney

Lydia (Grant) was sitting in Mrs. Fronzaglio’s room, pondering the incident with Amanda’s water bottle cap at lunch. you see, there was a black thing in the cap, about which she said, “What is that?” Then, she was launched out of her flashback because the bearded boy, Brandon, sat down next to her. She wouldn’t deal with this today. “Get out,” she said, and he surprisingly went away. Slowly getting over the shock of Brandon’s beard, Mrs. Fronzaglio’s lecture was becoming clearer over time. “Wow,” she thought, “this class would be so much better if I had a Fiji water.” And soon after, she began daydreaming about living in her favorite state, South Carolina. If only she could leave this school.

By Lydia Grant

Michael Cera is in its 30s. Its birth name is Noelle McKinney. Michael Cera is an obsessive fan of the real Michael Cera. While Michael Cera is a man and Noelle McKinney is a girl, she prefers being called an it since she believes she has been fused with the famous and real Michael Cera. Michael Cera’s top three wishes are: to have money, to be Michael Cera and to know what is in Amanda Reilly’s water bottle. It would like to rule over the real Michael Cera. If she rules over a kingdom, she would like to be called Michael Cera. Goodnight everybody.

Documentary days



Our primary focus with the Young Observers is print journalism, but we spent the previous two meetings looking into documentary film making. The class watched the film “Blackfish” – released in 2013.


The film took an in-depth, if not unbalanced look at killer whales and their interactions with humans while in captivity.





Weeding out ‘unnecessary’ letters

By Soma Hannon

Recently, I was thinking about letters, and it came to mind the letter C is unnecessary.

It makes the same sounds as K and S, and is really only useful for CH. So, maybe we could just use K and S where the unnecessary C’s are, and use the pictogram for C for CH.”

Are there other unnecessary letters? It turns out there are.

J is only said as a soft G, and could be replaced by that letter. X is just an amalgamation of KS, without any real value. Y is also useless. Replace it with E or I.

Basically, eradicate any letters that can be made with other letters. This leaves room on a keyboard for more important buttons, such as “next” or “previous” or “save.” Exterminating unnecessary letters from the English language would also make spelling easier and typing/writing faster. This is why we should seriously revise the original twenty-six letters of the alphabet and only keep the necessary ones.

A Flipsider takes part in Catholic Schools Week

Many current and former Flipsiders attended Catholic school, including Lexie Zaugg, a seventh-grader at St. Patrick’s School in Canonsburg. Lexie joined Flipside midway through the first half of the 2013-14 school year. Here, Lexie cleans St. Patrick’s Church along with the help of not-pictured classmates Jan. 27 for service to their community during Catholic Schools Week.


Breaking down the new season of “The Bachelor”

The season premier of “The Bachelor” kicked off in early January, and what an interesting and drama-filled season it is already.
Let me get one thing straight before I go on with my ranting and raving – I am well aware “The Bachelor” is a cheesy reality television show, but lately, it’s getting a lot of press. The tv show always draws attention, but the amount of publicity this season it is receiving is unusual and a larger number of people are tuning in. This all might have something to do with who “The Bachelor” actually is.
Athletic, single-father Juan Pablo has a lot of ladies turning heads and, as usual, going absolutely insane, even on the first night.
My opinion of Juan Pablo is simple: he’s different. I have watched season after season of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” and I can honestly say that he is unlike any of them. I can’t say Juan Pablo is just different because he has a young daughter either, because there have been single parents on the show before. He’s just very considerate of his daughter and expectations for a family and he’s very selfless and mature about the entire ordeal.
However, I can’t say the same about all of the women. Two episodes of “The Bachelor” have aired and, already, there have been tears shed, followed by emotional downward spirals, crazy mishaps, and the potential for falling in love, but this is nothing new.
There are a few touching, heart-felt stories in the bunch, and I think some of these women are both mother and Juan Pablo material, but you can’t expect anything when it comes to The Bachelor.
I’m excited to see what else this season has in store. I like Juan Pablo as the new bachelor and I wish him all the best on this “too-staged-to-be-completely-real” journey of rose after rose that can – and has – lead to a grand finale of true love for years to come.

First snow

First snow blog post.wps


By Grace Scofield
Young Observers

Last year’s first noticeable snow didn’t come until December, though there were traces of snow earlier. This year, the first noticeable snow fell Nov. 12.

The sparkling snow had a delicate, glistening appearance and was cause for excitement for students of all ages. One Washington are student said when she saw the snow in the morning, she instantly hoped for a two-hour delay. A Trinity Middle School student said she felt bittersweet because fall was coming to an end.

The snow stuck to road and driveways, but it melted after the sun emerged and a crisp, blue sky came into view.

The melted snow was likely a relief to fathers, older brothers and anyone else stuck shoveling.

By the time student got out of school, there wasn’t much snow left, but it was a good excuse to have snowball fights, hot chocolate and popcorn.

First snow blog post.wps

Dressing up not limited to Halloween

When most people think of dressing up and parading around in costumes, the first thing to come to mind is usually Halloween, especially in autumn. However, the city of Pittsburgh is home to several conventions that bring in hundreds (some, even thousands) of excited folks in costumes from their favorite TV shows, video games, and for some, their imagination.

 Two of these events are hosted yearly in the fall, both of which are considered smaller offshoots of two larger events.

 Western PA Furry Weekend (WPAFW) 2013, which took place on October 11-13, brought in a record number of 132 attendees this year. WPAFW has taken place nearly every year since 2004, and has been steadily growing. While not nearly as large scale as Pittsburgh’s other furry event, Anthrocon, the mini-convention raised $1,714 for their chosen charity, Hide-E-Hole Ferret Rescue.

While there is no single definition of what a “furry” actually is, it can be summed up as lovers of humanized animals. Many furries that attend events like WPAFW and Anthrocon dress up as a personal character like this, either in a full face mask and costume or just by wearing a tail.

The Anthrocon website has a brochure describing the basics of the fandom, which can be found here:

The date for WPAFW 2014 is to be announced. More information on the event, as well as photos and related links, can be found at:

KuroKiiro Festival, which takes place from November 1-3 at the Boyd Community Center in Pittsburgh, is a similar family-friendly mini-convention. The focus of KuroKiiro, however, is Japanese pop-culture, and anime/manga fandom in particular.

This year, KuroKiiro’s list of special guests includes Crispin Freeman, a voice actor known for his work in Hellsing, Naruto, and Howl’s Moving Castle; Steve Rudzinski, a local Pittsburgh filmmaker; and the drumming ensemble Pittsburgh Taiko.

KuroKiiro Festival, as well the larger springtime convention Tekkoshocon, are both managed by members of Pittsburgh’s Japanese Culture Society.

 Information on KuroKiiro can be found on its website:

 Information on Tekkoshocon and other affiliated events can be found on: http://www.