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Valedictorian posts anonymously to Instagram to make 657 classmates feel special

by Alexandra Zaslow /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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Konner Sauve sees the beauty in everyone.

That’s why he decided to tell 657 of the students at East Valley High School in Washington how he felt about them.

While dozing in and out of sleep in the backseat of his parents’ car on a road trip to Oregon last summer, the idea came to him.

“I knew I wanted to do something different, something to lift people up, but didn’t want to make a huge thing about it,” Sauve, 18, told “Then I figured out a way to be subtle while still inspiring them and making them feel good about themselves.”

Sauve anonymously uploaded 657 photos to Instagram account “thebenevolentone3” of students from all four grades over 11 months, each with a paragraph explaining why he thinks they’re great. It wasn’t until his graduation speech on June 6 that he revealed himself.

For example, Sauve told classmate Melissa Garris that he admired her "spectacular attitude about life."

"You are such a bright person and people don't give you enough credit for being so amazing," he wrote in the caption.

Some posts applauded people for their skills, like Jarred Nidiffer and his running abilities.

"You'll make history in my books!" Sauve wrote with the photo. "Now you get the spotlight because you're a straight up real guy."

For others, he sent encouraging messages. "Don't be scared after what you want," he wrote to a classmate named Chloe. "With the right mindset, you can achieve anything.

If he didn’t know the student personally, he did his research to find out about his fellow classmates by looking in the yearbook to see if they were involved in any clubs or sports.

Even other students would join the conversation and comment on the photo something they loved about that person.

When one girl lost her dad, Sauve direct messaged her on the account and she was able to open up to him, even though she didn’t know who it was.

“I know students have gone through things and this was my way of being there for them,” Sauve said.

He didn’t know how he was going to reveal himself, but when he found out he was valedictorian, he thought it’d be perfect to include it at the end of his speech.

“I thought it’d be cool to end on that note and figured it’s the perfect way to close the chapter of high school,” Sauve said. “Plus everyone was constantly asking who was behind the account, so I thought it wouldn’t be fair to let everyone go their separate ways without telling them.”

Students at his school have created two new Instagram accounts since graduation, so Sauve can go off to Gonzaga University in the fall knowing he made a difference and started a trend in the process.

“I’m glad I had the opportunity to inspire people and continue positivity,” Sauve said. “After all, that was my initial goal.”

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