Times sure have changed since you were in high school. Today, with the ubiquitous Internet at the hands of every teenager, the opportunities for staying socially connected are unending. It's a great way for teens to stay connected with their peers, but, of course, it's often used as a platform for bullying.
The term cyberbullying has been around for nearly a decade now, but its fluid nature continues to be a source of confusion for teachers and parents. A study from earlier this year reported that 95 percent of all teens have witnessed a peer being cyberbullied. More than half say that they've seen instances of this unique form of cruelty happen frequently.
The students at Yakima, Washington's East Valley High School became aware of an Instagram account with a very different premise: it delivered encouragement and praise to East Valley students.
The messages were anonymous and lighthearted. The account praised athletes and school leaders.
But, it also praised the kids who maybe didn't get as much recognition and the kids who overcame personal obstacles.
For 43 weeks, the students followed the Instagram @thebenevolentone3, as students saw yearbook photos and inspiring notes appear online.
Although he wouldn't confirm it, the students had an idea of who might be running the account. They believed it to be 18-year-old Konner Suave.
Suave happened to be East Valley's valedictorian and, as he gave his commencement speech, he confessed to being the man behind the account. The account was meant to highlight the best aspects of the people he'd shared time with in his last four years of high school. Konner finally addressed his intention on the page last week:
"There’s a tad bit more than you thought there was, I apologize.
There is one quote in particular from Maya Angelou that reads ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ I find this such an inspiring quote because over the past year I saw a change occur in our high school, a positive one, it seemed as though we were more united than we had been in the past. During the summer, I made the decision to go in and try to make everyone here feel appreciated and recognized for simply being the amazing people they are. It is easy for people to be cruel over social media, so I decided to make an anonymous account on Instagram that would counteract the negativity seen today by posting a picture of each student and a paragraph of what makes them GREAT and how other people should see that too. So after 657 posts, over 11 months, and finishing each person in the Class of 2014, Class of 2016, and of course our Class of 2015, I would like to prove Jose Gutierrez right and admit that I am “thebenevolentone3.” Benevolence being defined as “characterized or expressing goodwill or kindly feelings.” In the end, I realized that we are ALL the benevolent ones in our way and actions of how we treat others, it has been a wonderful year. I’ll miss East Valley. And although I part without finishing all of the class of 2017, I wish that the next generations take over and find bolder ways to express positivity and encouragement in the East Valley Community. Keep on keeping on."
Credit: Huffington Post