‘Unofficial’ Instagrams: The impact on HHS staff and students


(Images courtesy of Britannica Image Quest)

A fake Instagram sleeping account similar to the ones surfing the web.

Editor’s Note: This is an OP-ED and does not represent the opinion of The Hilltopper Editorial Board.

     Waking up from a nap in the middle of class, when looking at one’s phone, students see so many messages from a variety of different people, best friends, significant others, even parents.  

     Students open the messages to find themselves sleeping all over Instagram. They are shown on the screen, in a weird position in the middle of class, ‘slumped.’ 

     Recently, high schools around the United States have noticed a flood of new Instagram accounts created and claiming “to not be affiliated” with the schools. A trend first seen on TikTok, the accounts feature topics like eating, fashion, and the most popular, sleeping. 

     The sleeping account was the first to be created at Highlands High School. This page highlights the unfortunate students who are caught sleeping in class. Many students fear to be posted on the page out of public embarrassment, creating classrooms of alert students questioning who runs said page.

     “When students notice a trend, they want to be in on it. I think it does make more people want to participate in sleeping in class,” said Senior Ava Sandhas.

     To be featured on the accounts, students direct message a photo via Instagram to any of the individual accounts, making the accounts full of multiple classes and grade levels. However, many photos appear to be staged in order to obtain a good laugh from their peers. 

     “I follow the Instagram pages because I think they are funny and entertaining,” said Sophomore Lindsay Stein. 

     As a student at HHS, although it is controversial, we do not think that this page is offensive. It is funny to catch people off guard, sleeping in class. However, there is an argument to be made that students feel as though it is targeted towards them, along with being posted comes with a load of embarrassment which could lead to the assumption of bullying.

     “I’ve been caught lackin’ twice, it’s embarrassing when people pull up the pictures in every class just to laugh at me,” said Junior Seth Ryan. 

     The creator(s) of the sleeping page claims that it’s just a harmless trend but to others, it might be considered a violation of privacy. Although most of the pictures that get sent in are consensual, many are not.

     According to the Fort Thomas Independent Schools (FTIS) Board policy #09.4261, students are not allowed to record, photograph, or audio record other students without their permission. 

     The policy states: “[This] violates confidentiality or privacy rights of another individual. This includes, but is not limited to, taking photographs, video, or audio recordings of others without the permission of the principal/designee and the affected individual(s).” 

     The Instagram page does come into violation of this statement in the policy. However,  as the page progresses, it is a concern that teachers are offended by what the students are posting. 

     From what we have collected, students, for the most part, are very engaged in class, and teachers do not have issues with kids sleeping during instruction. The sleeping appears to take place during off periods/class time. In other words, it does not happen when teachers are actually teaching. 

     Looking back at the page itself, viewers are not able to determine when the sleeping is taking place. According to HHS teachers themselves, they have a variety of different opinions on whether the page is targeting teachers for their lack of strictness or on the other hand some teachers find the account entertaining as if the page is a beam of positivity in these difficult times. 

     “I don’t think the page is necessarily malicious, that being said I see how there was a chain reaction the student would have intended for the page to be light, funny, and harmless and it could’ve developed out of proportion,” said Math Teacher Sam Volpenhein.

     Teachers should not be offended by this because although it could be considered an invasion of privacy, it has nothing to do with the teachers’ individual teaching skills or their ability to keep the students engaged. It points a finger towards certain students who choose to sleep in class and is not out of spite for any of the educators. 

     “[Talking about the continuation of the page] Absolutely I think it’s hilarious, it’s something that’s fun in these hard times and provides a distraction from the harsh situation COVID-19 has provided,” said Athletic Director Wes Caldwell.

     We have received a lot of positive feedback from most of the teachers, however, some teachers realize that it’s not the end of the world if a sleepy student needs a quick brain break. 

     “I have bigger fish to fry than you laying your head down for five minutes,” said Business Teacher Elise Carter.

     This exact topic has become national news and is involved with a supreme court case, specifically Mahanoy Area High School. 

     In April 2021, a student made inappropriate comments about their school on social media because she made the junior varsity cheer team as opposed to varsity. Mahanoy Area High School then proceeded to permanently suspend the student from the cheerleading team. By doing this the school violated her First Amendment rights and was taken to court. 

The Supreme Court decision stated, “The special characteristics that give schools additional license to regulate student speech do not always disappear when that speech takes place off-campus.”

     Since the Instagram page is not run by any of the staff members, the account cannot be associated with the high school.

     Another case similar to the situation happening at Highlands High School was the Supreme Court Case J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District (2011), in which a middle school student created a post on Instagram in the name of his biology teacher. 

The 3rd Circuit Court of Michigan ruled in favor of the students, stating, “That school officials exceeded their authority in punishing two middle school students for a parody on social media.”

     Since the school doesn’t have any ties to the accounts, they cannot decide themselves if they want to intervene, however, if it is discovered that it is impacting the educational environment, they withhold every right to attempt to put an end to the page.