Three Woodland HS students using Instagram to combat cyber bully - KPTV - FOX 12

Three Woodland HS students using Instagram to combat cyber bullying

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WOODLAND, WA (KPTV) -

A group of anonymous students at Woodland High School are on a mission to combat cyber bullying. They're doing it by posting nice things about their peers at random on a mysterious Instagram account known as the "Woodland Stars."

It's usually never a good thing when Principal John Shoup is called to check out something about his students that's circulating online.

"It's not someone who did something positive, it's usually mean spirited," said Shoup.

So, when he logged onto Instagram and found the page in question, he almost couldn't believe was he was seeing.

"This was not mean spirited, it was just the opposite. So, that was a fun reaction to have," said Shoup.

The anonymous Woodland Stars account was spotlighting students at random for being unique and wonderful. Every day, a new student is featured.  Below their photo is something nice is written about their character.

Immediately Shoup wanted to know the students behind the page and got to digging.

"I am amazed, I wouldn't have had the fortitude and aptitude as high school student to think this way, so I'm super proud of them, like a father is proud of his children, I really am," said Shoup.

Turns out there are three kids from different grades behind the page. Though no one besides Shoup, his secretary and PR staff know who they are.

"It's amazing to me that they've been doing it this long and it's a big secret around here," said Shoup. "For high school kids to keep a secret that long, it's impressive and I don't want to screw that up for them."

We don't want to mess up their secret either. So, FOX 12 is not identifying the students. The group believes being anonymous preserves the humility of the project.

We'll call them Student 1, 2 and 3. Student 1 was the original creator of the page.

"I just really value people and see the good works that they're doing, I want to recognize them for that," said Student 1. "It was mostly to lift people up."

But, to reach more people, Student 1 needed help. That's where Student 2 came in.

"A lot of people get stressed out and down and lose confidence in stuff and it's great to see them boosted and feeling confident after we post about them," said Student 2.

Student 3 joined soon after.

"To see the person with a smile on their face in the hall the next day, when the day before they were having a miserable day, to see that entire change in their lives is incredible," said Student 3.

Together they'll walk the halls of Woodland High every day looking for people to feature on their Instagram account.

"There's no rhyme, or reason to it, it's random, it's 'oh hey, I remember that person, they're nice, or he did that, or she did that,'" said Student 2.

They've posted about 122 of their peers and counting.

"I have conversations with kids, 'hey, you're a Woodland Star today,' and you can see them beaming and pleased that someone recognized them," said Shoup. "I had another parent tell me their daughter printed and cut out their post when they were highlighted and it's hanging in her bedroom as reminder that she's been noticed.  I think that's important to all of us. That's what I love about it, they're noticed for real things, not just generic."

It's a decision by three kids to spread love and not hate.

"It's so cool, we get DM's and private messages, and we see the people the next day they're so happy," said Student 1.

A choice to do good that makes them feel good too.

"As a person it's helped me, as someone who struggles with anxiety and depression and other social problems, it's helped me to come out of my shell and become a better person and enjoy the positives of people," said Student 3.

The group says they're already thinking about an exit strategy, because one of them will be graduating this year. It's possible when that happens they might reveal who they are, but only after picking a successor.

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