For the past two and a half weeks, photos of dozens of Franklin Community High School students have been appearing online paired with messages of praise and support.
The photos were pulled from Instagram, a social networking site that lets users upload and share photos and captions, and the comments under the students’ pictures thank them for being good friends to the people in their lives. They commend the students for making the people they see each day smile and laugh, and the users who created the two Instagram accounts where the photos are posted offer to listen if any of the students in the pictures ever need to talk.
The pages, called Franklin Good Book and Franklin Nice Book, were started separately by freshman Geoffrey McAdams and sophomore Zarah Clark-Potter. They created the pages the day they learned someone had created an online burn book, pairing the photos of at least seven Franklin students with insults.
McAdams didn’t know any of the students whose photos were posted in the burn book, but Clark-Potter did. One of the students who had been bullied before didn’t appear to be rattled by what was posted online, but another was deeply hurt, she said.
About the Instagram pages
Two Franklin Community High School students started Instagram pages of their own in response to an online burn book that was reported two weeks ago. Here are the details:
What was the burn book?
Photos of several Franklin students that were posted online and paired with insults
What did the students create?
The students created two online pages of their own — Franklin Good Book and Franklin Nice Book.
What do they do?
The students choose photos of Franklin students and pair them with compliments they write.
Where have all of these photos been posted? Instagram, an online social networking site that lets users upload their own photos and captions
“People ... some of them are cruel. And they can say just the right thing to knock you down,” she said.
After Clark-Potter heard about the burn book, she quickly remembered how she had been bullied before entering high school. Today she has a group of friends she can lean on for support, but she remembers how it hurt not having anyone to stand up or stick up for her in elementary or middle school.
Starting the Instagram page is a way to make sure more students know someone cares about them, even from a distance, she said.
“I want to stop bullying. Yeah, it’s going to take a long time for that to happen. But it’s worth trying,” Clark-Potter said.
McAdams remembers the day news spread of the burn book postings. Seemingly everyone at the high school had their phones out, trying to find the pictures of the students and the comments that had been posted.
“No one deserves to be beat down and feel awful about themselves,” McAdams said.
School officials are trying to track down whoever started the burn book, and any students who were involved could be expelled, Superintendent David Clendening said.
Clendening was encouraged to see how students at the middle school and high school seemed to rally around the students whose photos had been posted. And the Instagram pages started by McAdams and Clark-Potter are proof that most Franklin students aren’t going to tolerate cyberbullying, Clendening said.
McAdams and Clark-Potter know some of the people whose photos they’ve posted on their pages. But McAdams is assuming strangers won’t mind being told they appear to be good friends who would stand up for the people in their lives.
Their Instagram pages give other people the chance to comment on the photos that are posted, and both monitor their pages to ensure all comments are positive.
Both students started the pages anonymously, but they revealed themselves after about a week when people kept asking who they were. Sometimes Clark-Potter wishes she could have remained anonymous, because now as she adds to Franklin Nice Book she worries about how the comments she posts with a classmate’s picture will be judged.
She and McAdams also have seen Facebook posts accusing them of starting the pages for attention, but both try to ignore the criticism and want to keep the pages active for as long as possible.
Most of the feedback they’ve received from students has been positive, thanking them for taking the time to say something nice.
“People tell me that I’ve done such a great thing and that I’ve made their days, and they just want me to keep doing them,” Clark-Potter said.