Photos were taken on film and often had to be developed. Illustrations were mostly sketched by hand. Everything was mailed, faxed or dropped off at the newspaper office. Sometimes, the editor even drove to schools or homes to collect submissions.
The advent of the digital age marked a huge turning point for FlipSide. Not only could correspondents submit their work electronically, but they also could be reached easily when the editor had questions. Thus, a brand-new line of excuses for missing deadlines was born.
All kidding aside, perhaps the biggest revelation for the adult journalists who have nurtured FlipSide over the years has been its depth and diversity of content.
FlipSide correspondents have written honestly and eloquently about substance abuse, eating disorders, suicide, sexuality, depression, domestic violence, racism and many other weighty issues. They have explored politics and religion. They have debated everything from animal rights to the right to bear arms. And, of course, they have thoroughly dissected subjects such as prom, homecoming, graduation, sports, academia, fashion, music and pop culture.
Their efforts have been recognized with awards in both national and state contests. Several correspondents have earned fellowships to attend a national conference for newspaper professionals who oversee programs like FlipSide. Best of all, more than a few FlipSiders have moved on to full-fledged careers in journalism -- including current FlipSide editor, Amy Robinson, who served as a correspondent while attending St. Albans High School.
In addition to fostering quality youth coverage, FlipSide has provided area students with ways to get more involved in the community. These include a logo contest for Charleston's Smoke on the Water Chili Cook-off, which ran for several years, and an ongoing series of events at Charleston Town Center Mall courtesy of FlipSide's longtime partnership with the mall. FlipSide and CTC have teamed up for back-to-school blasts, prom fashion shows, a Space Camp experience, a "Twilight" promotion and many other fun events.
Quite a few accomplishments for a 20-year-old, don't you think?
FlipSide may no longer be a teen in years, but it was, is and forever will be teen at heart.
Marina Hendricks, the founding editor of FlipSide, is manager of the Newspaper Association of America Foundation in Arlington, Va.