Disclaimer: Those interviewed for this article requested to remain anonymous to protect their identities from potential harm associated with running the subsequent political accounts.
Politicizing the school’s name began in April 2018 when a student started the Instagram account @AHS_conservatives, posting conservative political memes to get their message across. This account in a minority conservative school, with only 18.7% of students identifying as Republican according to a 2018 Patriot Post poll, led to a flurry of controversy. However, no direct action was taken until November 2019, when a separate group of students started the liberal political account, @AHS_snowflakes, to counter the postings of @AHS_conservatives. Soon after the creation of this account, two different fringe accounts popped up, one being @AHS_anarchists and @AHS_communists.
“Seeing [that there was no conservative club], I decided to create the account towards the end of my sophomore year as an alternative,” the creator of @AHS_conservatives said. “I think the page does a good job of getting people talking and familiarizing themselves with what’s happening in the news.”
Considering the political nature of the account, several students took issue with its associating its views with the school. “I didn’t receive hate personally since nobody knew, but I did see many people ranting about the account on their [personal accounts], which only motivated me. There have been instances where fellow students have written me off just because I disagree with them on something like immigration policy, and it’s sad because I feel like I’m a genuinely nice person but a lot of people can’t see past my political identification.”
In regards to the newer political accounts that have surfaced, “I’m glad it ended up inspiring a bigger conversation on campus, but I’d have more respect for snowflakes if they chose a unique bio rather than parody the original account. Communist and anarchists, [however], are just jokes that detract from the other two accounts.” The original creator of @AHS_conservatives lost their passion for running the account but did not want to see it die, so they sold the password to another student through an anonymous Venmo transaction.
The new owner wanted to keep the same meme approach. “I have always held conservative values, and I noticed our school falling into a more leftwing side of thinking, including identity politics and fighting for ‘rights.’ I felt that the best way to try playing my part in waking people at our school up would be through memes and discourse,” the new owner said. “The reason I use memes is because it is the best way to get through to people nowadays, and I would like to get through to as many people as I can. I often get DMs from very smart people at our school who are on the borderline; we have great conversations, and I enjoy helping them solidify their views.”
As opposed to the single ownership of the other political accounts, a group of students run @AHS_snowflakes. “The account was started during a school trip. We had seen the content of @AHS_conservatives and thought we’d do a counter, as a joke at first,” they said. “We discuss in a group chat before posting and also discuss together how to respond to any users.”
Snowflakes’ original aim in the account was to mirror @AHS_conservatives while promoting their own views. “We used memes as they had, though we do add our own spin by posting articles from news organizations we follow and have things like ‘gun control Tuesday,’” they said. “The goal is to entertain but also lightly engage the school in politics. Originally it was a [retaliation] to @AHS_conservatives, but now it simply exists on its own, to which we are all very proud of.”
Their greater goal, though, is to make students interested in politics and keep informed. “Regardless of voting status, kids need to be aware. I think our account does a good job, though we encourage followers to seek out more in-depth news sources, like the Brookings Institution, Center for American Progress or the World Politics Review,” @AHS_Snowflakes said.
While the other two accounts stick to the binary spectrum of U.S. politics, @AHS_anarchists hoped to show students there is more beyond those issues. “This is an account for those who do not fall under the labels of conservative or liberal, rather than just existing as a parody of those accounts. I believe that government does not serve the best interests of the people. I thought it would be good for those who don’t identify as Republican or Democrat to learn about another way of thinking, and this seemed like [a platform through which] I could spread a message, especially with the 2020 election coming relatively soon,” @AHS_anarchists said.
@AHS_communists did not respond to the request for an interview.
“We would be happy to have political groups on campus having positive dialogues about real issues. I think that’s very healthy,” Upper School Principal Mrs. Elise Blum said. “We have so many smart kids here, I think most of the kids here are going to be able to go and solve the world’s problems better than the adults in the world have done. However, I’d rather see them go to either not use our logo on their pages and do what they want to do or go through the proper channels to create a school club with a faculty advisor and be officially sanctioned by the school.”