XOXO - random saints
Mollie Kemp '23, Catherine Onorato '22, Sofia D'Angelo '22, Lucy Palma '23
As you walk into the hallways packed with students, you see a camera flash by but then quickly blink away into the ocean of people. Curious, you glance back behind you to catch a glimpse of the mysterious photographer, but the culprit is gone; lost in the sweeping chaotic tide of students heading to their classes. Your suuspiciones are seemingly washed away, but 30 minutes later you open your phone and see something odd. One of your friends has commented on an Instagram post, scrolling up you see the picture, it’s of you.
Who is Random Saints? How many people run the account? Why do they post pictures of others but not reveal their own identity? We have the same questions as you, which is why we decided to look into these exact thoughts. Random Saints is an anonymous Instagram account which posts pictures of students throughout the day. These pictures are taken without the knowledge of students at SSSAS, which have caused mixed reactions within the student body. Our primary goal was to focus on the student opinion of the account and follow clues to unravel more about the identity of Random Saints.
Our process started the day senior editor of the voice, Catherine Onorato, was featured on Random Saints. She was confused how a picture of her could be taken without her even knowing. In this November issue we tried to crack the code of the identity of Random Saints. Below you will see the poor quality photo posted on the account; and because each picture has low resolution, which makes us believed the anonymous photographer walks toward their victims.
On October 15, 2021, we put together a list of suspects. This list was based on rumors and our own ideas of who we might have seen taking a picture while passing in the hallways. Once the list was created we started sending direct messages to the account on Instagram. They agreed to an interview but chose to keep their identity a secret; however, we still believe we are close to finding who is behind the account.
While Sofia D’Angelo was contacting Random Saints via Instagram we came to a conclusion that this person had to have B period free. Everytime we would message Random Saints during our journalism class in B period, they would respond instantly. How could they respond this fast if they were in a class? We tested this theory and messaged them throughout the day during different classes; however they would always only respond during B period.
We also decided that Random Saints had to be a sophomore because Luke Rapallo ‘24 messaged the account and asked who they voted for for class president, and they said “Theo Weiman.'' Theo is the sophomore class president which confirmed our suspicions that our culprit had to be in the class of 2024.
Catherine Onorato, Mollie Kemp, and Sofia D’Angelo met with Ms.McGuire to discuss the instagram account. We wanted to understand how the teachers and administration viewed Random Saints. Ms. McGuire gave her opinions on the account saying, “I think the account brings joy to some students, however when there is an Instagram account connected to SSSAS not run by the school, it can cause concern.” Ms. McGurie did not seem to mind the account as she said “Random Saints has never been a concern to the school, but we will make sure if someone feels unsafe or uncomfortable action will be taken.” The meeting with Ms. McGuire shed light on how the faculty of SSSAS feel about the anonymous account, and how a lot of their decisions are based on the opinions of the students. Random Saints has made it clear they are not putting anyone in harm's way, which leads them to believe they could not be punished for their actions.
We then went to the director of scheduling, shoutout Mr. Marvin, and got a list of all sophomores with a free B Period. Based on our previous findings, we knew it had to be a sophomore in this free. We began walking around the hallways to find some of the sophomores on our list and interview them. We asked them how they felt about the account. While asking these questions we studied their body language when the account was brought up. At this point we were down to four suspects. With our narrowed down list we decided to start interviewing Random Saints.
The interview with Random Saints over DM started with a few basic questions about their identity. When asked why they started the account they responded “I was bored and the saint's confessions account was so big so I decided to start my own.” Saints confessions was an Instagram account that quickly got shut down last year due to false accusations about students and faculty. We then asked if they were worried about getting caught because of what happened to Saints Confessions, which was shut down by the school. Random Saints responded, “I have thought about it but I realized I am not bullying or harming anyone, and my followers have my back.” While students may agree with this account not bullying anyone there have been concerns of people feeling uncomfortable about being posted without consent.
We sent out a google form to see what students thought of Random Saints. Some of the responses were positive in how much they liked this account. For example, one respondent said, “I really like it. I think it's something fun about the student life at SSSAS that I look forward to every day. I find it entertaining trying to figure out who it is. It's not like they're causing any harm so I just think it's something fun.” Another response noted that, “It is funny and it makes me feel more connected to the students of SSSAS.” We also received many responses referring to the show Gossip Girl. For those of you who have never heard of the show Gossip Girl, it is about high school students whose secrets get revealed by a ruthless anonymous blogger.
On the flip side, there were also a good amount of negative responses. “It’s high key weird, it would be fine but it’s clear that the person running the account has some kind of mental issue. The captions are written as if the person is a stalker and frankly they have seemed to get weirder and more stalker-like as the year has gone on.” Another example is “I think it's kind of weird, and also it doesn't ask for consent for being on the Internet. I have been posted, and I don't have social media for the reason that I don't want to be on social media and the Internet, but I had no say in the matter, so I can't change it.” The last one we found troubling was, “I think it is a violation of people's privacy. Some people don't want themselves on social media and on people's camera roll. I would feel better if someone asked the person they want to take a picture of if it is okay. I also find it creepy, just randomly taking pictures of random people and their picture stays on the photographer's camera roll. Who knows how long it's going to stay there and where else the photo has been posted?” Although the majority of the responses reflected positively on the account, there was still a significant amount of the student body that felt uncomfortable with the fact that they could be posted without permission.
After we sent out the google form and got back these responses we tried to dig deeper into figuring out who is behind this anonymous account. Mollie Kemp and Sofia D’Angelo talked to a group of sophomore boys in the library every day because we believed they were behind this account. When we first started talking to the boys and asking them questions, they all looked severely uncomfortable. We decided to let them stew in silence after asking them a particularly pressing question of “are one of you Random Saints?” They looked at each other, squirmed in their chairs, sweating a little, until one of them finally broke the silence. With an awkward laugh, he said, “I used to think it was you” as he pointed at his friend to his left. This outbreak led to an even more awkward conversation filled with accusations between the friends. While the one boy that was accused continued to look super conspicuous, he denied all claims. As we continued to visit our sophomore suspects in the library, we developed a theory that all of them could be working together under one account. Maybe the boys would all take pictures throughout the day and then log into the shared account and post it. This could explain why there were lots of different theories among the student body and why suspicions could never be fully verified. If there were multiple people taking pictures how could you ever pin down a sole suspect? We continued to have anonymous sources with theories that aligned with our own that it was this particular boy. Though we never got confirmation if this was true, these B-period, sophomore boys can only be described as “sus.”
While investigating the captions of the Random Saints posts, Catherine Onorato and Lucy Palma uncovered some strange vocab. One word being “bookbag.” In Northern VA you don't hear the word bookbag as commonly as backpack. Catherine and Lucy went around conducting a fake survey. The survey was based on words everyone says differently including, syrup, carmel, and backpack vs bookbag. Most students replied with backpack so we crossed them off the list of suspects.
On Tuesday November 2, Random Saints posted a story to get students to guess their identity, then they took the two most popular names and created a poll for followers to vote between the two. The top 2 were Chris Chesner ‘24 and Codie Campbell ‘23. The current poll standings are Chesner with 67% and Campbell with 33%. The following day after the story was posted, Sofia and Mollie went to seek out Chesner’s opinion on the matter. Chesner denied claims that he was Random Saints and even went as far to show us his Instagram accounts and the absence of the RS account on his phone. He did agree with us that it is a sophomore boy. We also got a chance to talk with Campbell who didn’t have a strong opinion on the account, but did “like that whoever runs the account does give people the option of getting a post taken down..” She was surprised that she was a top suspect in the poll “given the fact that it’s definitely not me.”
Later that same day after the poll was posted, they posted an additional story. Essentially they said that followerers had guessed their identity but not enough people guessed it right to be put in the poll. So this established that there are people in the school who do know the identity, or atleast have a strong suspicion of the right suspect.
While we didn’t get permission to reveal the identity of Random Saints, the secret is bound to come out at some point. Regardless of whether Random Saints is exposed or decides to offer up their identity voluntarily, all we know is that you can’t hide behind a screen forever. At some point in time the culprit will slip up and be seen taking pictures in the crowded hallways of SSSAS.