All over the nation, teachers have dusted off their shelves, professors have perfected their syllabi, and students have stocked up on supplies to prepare for the back-to-school madness. Once the chores are out of the way, the dorm decorations are packed up, and the summer days dwindle down in anticipation of the coming year, there’s nothing left to do but imagine where the year will lead.
But what if you take control of the upcoming school year instead of letting it take you somewhere?
This was the mindset of Konner Sauve last August as he prepared for his senior year at East Valley High School in Yakima, Washington. While on the Oregonian highway for a road trip to the coast, he reflected on how to make the most of his last year in public school.
Photo by Nikki Cox
“My mind was focused on the idea of high school and how being a senior hadn’t set in yet, so I decided to reflect on my past experiences through the past three years of high school,” Sauve said in an e-mail interview. “I started thinking about my friends and their lives and how everyone goes through challenges and rough spots, and sometimes the ones in high school can shape our future and who we become.”
The inspiration of friends and family clicked while he was scrolling through the social media site Instagram. Sauve decided to make an anonymous account called thebenevolentone3. With one picture of a classmate per post and compliments and encouragements in each caption, every single member of his high school was honored over the course of the year—a total of 658 posts. During his valedictorian speech at graduation, Sauve revealed he was the user behind the account.
Since June, his story has garnered international attention from widely known media organizations, including the Today show, US Weekly, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, and The View, among others. The original account has 13.8k followers.
The high school-to-college window of time is one that many find to be the most memorable. There are things to do and participate in that will likely be remembered beyond your teenage years and into your adult life. You’ll be confronted with risks and opportunities that might change the course of your life, decisions that can impact and influence the lives of a multitude of others whether you know it or not.
“I think there was a big shift in positivity when we were seniors,” said Jessie Santillan, a sophomore with a year of experience at Syracuse University under his belt. “I don’t know if that was because it was us helping the younger kids get involved, or helping spread positive influence through social media.”