SJS Confessions began with the singular post: “Sometimes I like to cover myself in butter and pretend I’m a potato.” Now, with over 1500 submissions and 490 followers, the Facebook page has quickly evolved into the talk of the storied cloisters.
Following the trend of school Confessions pages sweeping Facebook, such as the Bellaire and Kinkaid confessions pages, SJS Confessions was created, Feb. 15, to create an anonymous forum for discussion about student life and to bring the student body closer together.
“We were inspired to create this page after seeing other schools’ confession pages,” the anonymous administrator said in reply to inquiry sent through the page. “We thought they were really funny and liked how the pages brought all the students together.”
Students can submit confessions to the administrator anonymously through a survey hosted on Survey Monkey. The administrators then select appropriate confessions to publish on the page.
“We always imagine a faculty member looking over our shoulder before posting. If they would approve, then we post,” the administrator said. “We would say SJS Confessions is a more censored version of other schools’ confessions page.”
The administrator spends one or two hours a day filtering and publishing confessions. Of the approximately 1,500 submissions, 197 have been posted as of Feb 26.
Given the anonymous nature of the forum, the page has sparked concerns that the confessions page will devolve into a haven for inappropriate content or even cyber bullying.
“I don’t currently share the concern, but the potential is there — in any page like this, nothing personal to this particular page — so I can see why some are concerned,” Upper School teacher Dwight Raulston said. “Should the page move into that territory, I would stop reading it and posting on it.”
“We completely understand the concerns; therefore, we will do anything in our power to find and prevent any such illicit behaviors from occurring,” SJS Confessions administrator said.
Students concede that while the possibility for abuse is valid, future complications appear unlikely given the content published thus far.
“I think that currently the forum has been treated quite respectfully, and I feel that the administrators are using their judgment to inhibit such bullying,” senior Sam Burkett said.
Students feel that the page has done much to benefit the SJS community.
“I haven’t heard a negative comment about the page yet. Everyone I know loves it. The page is definitely bringing the student body together,” sophomore Isabel Wallace-Green said. “The comments, vague or specific, are usually pretty relatable or at least give you a perspective you may have not thought about. It’s a real voice that I know a lot of us don’t feel like we have in our social environment.”
As one confession read: “In spite of what parents/administrators are saying, I think this page is bringing us closer together more than turning us against one another. Some SERIOUS 9-12ing going on.”
“I think that the page is achieving unity in the Upper School through a means that no one would have expected,” Burkett said.
The impact of the SJS Confessions page extends past the student body to parents, faculty and alumni.
“To the extent it provides a haven for useful but difficult things to say in person, I think it’s good,” Dr. Raulston said. “One of my students told me that he thinks my posting makes St. John’s feel more tightly knit since as both an alum and a teacher, I can share my feelings, responses and insights with current students.”
Although the majority of posts published on the SJS Confessions page are humorous (“No homework weekend should really be called ‘more homework Mondays’”), many raise discussion and offer new perspectives on serious issues, including extended time, sexual orientation and the stress of student life.
“I think the page is making people feel more connected to the SJS community because it opens up tough topics that aren’t necessarily talked about openly very often, despite the fact that a lot of people suffer from these problems, like stress, school work and social problems, like feeling isolated or lonely,” junior Austin Allday said.
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