The student voice of St. George's Independent School.

Through the lens

Senior Sophia Quesada captures the lives of St. George’s students

  • Clockwise from the top: Senior Caroline Green and the Owner of Gibson’s Donuts, sophomore Maggie Vento, Alumna Leah Hodgkiss, Senior Courtney Tipton, Junior Kneeland Gammill and senior Duncan Daniel. (Photo: Katie Boyle, Sophia Quesada)
  • Senior Sophia Quesada poses for a photo while looking through her camera lens. For her SIS project she took photos of different students. (Photo: Annie Murff)

Annie Murff, Copy Editor

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When students log on to The Teenage Experiment’s Instagram, they learn that sophomore Maggie Vento’s favorite place is the St. George’s beach and senior Caroline Green goes to Gibson’s Donuts with her dad on a regular basis. Students can keep scrolling and learn even more fascinating facts about various St. George’s upper school students, such as Allie Harbert, Adam Cruthirds and Daniel Quesada.

Senior Sophia Quesada is currently working on her Senior Independent Study project. However, it is not just any SIS project, as the fittingly-named “Teenage Experiment” has not only caught the attention of the Gryphon Gazette, but also much of the upper school as well.

SIS, which is led by high school English teacher Mr. Jamie Roszel, is a program unique to St. George’s. According to Mr. Roszel, this project is the chance for seniors to show off the skills they have acquired from first through twelfth grade. It explores something that bears meaning in a student’s life, and Quesada does just that.

“The person we become has a lot to do with the brain and who we are,” Quesada said.

For her SIS project, Quesada originally set out to do a psychology-based project, a “sleep study” of sorts. She decided not to pursue that project because of the extensive amount of equipment needed to carry out such a study, but she wanted to remain on the path of developmental psychology.

In the end, she decided to create an Instagram page called The Teenage Experiment in order to find out “different things about people that you wouldn’t see in the hallways.” Quesada follows her subjects to places in Memphis that are personally meaningful to them, including Gibson’s Donuts, the Memphis Pyramid and even the St. George’s field house.

“[It’s] cool to see places that aren’t only in Midtown and hip and trendy, but actual places that have meaning to them or meant something to someone,” Quesada said.

After arriving at the chosen location, Quesada asks the subject a series of ten questions, ranging from “What has been your hardest experience?” to “What do you think the purpose of life is?” However, Quesada only picks one of those ten answers to be featured in the Instagram post for anyone who follows her account to see. According to Quesada, the chosen answer out of the ten is either the one that “encompasses the entire interview and their personality” or one that includes a “surprising” answer. She hopes that other teenagers will see these interesting answers and feel more comfortable with being themselves.

“If other teenagers see other teenagers [and] that there is more to them, they will be more okay with being themselves,” Quesada said. She hopes this will help teenagers be seen in a new and different perspective.

Senior Courtney Tipton, who was subject number 18, is one of the 20 people who volunteered to share their story. She credits her wanting to participate in the project to her love for horses.

“I could go on about my horse for like six hours,” Tipton said. “However, I wanted to explain that it’s more than just ‘I ride horses,’ that it goes deeper than that.”

Tipton describes the interview being “chill” and “interactive.” When asked how this SIS project is beneficial to others, Tipton said that Quesada’s questions are much “deeper than one’s that teenagers are normally asked,” and it is interesting to learn new things about people that are not seen everyday.

“These are kids, friends even, that have experiences that are really meaningful to them that we didn’t even know about,” Tipton said.

“[The Teenage Experiment] is interesting because it is trying to tackle individual experiences and what it is like to go through adolescence,” Mr. Roszel said. “It is especially interesting for [the younger] generation because everyone has become so focused on social media.”

“It’s more introspective because it asks questions we are never asked,” Quesada said.

According to Mr. Roszel, it’s very “student-focused” and “global in the sense that it can affect all teens.”

Quesada credits the popular Instagram account, Humans of New York, for inspiration, thinking it would be great if Memphis had one, thus creating the idea of @theteenageexperiment. Quesada says she wants not only to show Memphis off by showcasing the interesting places that hold meaning to specific people, but by showcasing the special people that are in her life as well.

She wants The Teenage Experiment’s Instagram page to be a forum where people can share their thoughts safely and comfortably.

“It’s okay to be vulnerable [and] it’s okay to yourself,” Quesada said.

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The student voice of St. George's Independent School.
Through the lens