For the second straight year, Student Leadership Johns Creek has partnered with Mercer University Tift College of Education and the Johns Creek Historical Society to receive grant funding to work on a unique project documenting the living history of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant project, Same Storm, Different Boats is sponsored in part by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Eastern Region Program, coordinated by Waynesburg University. This project will focus on how the coronavirus impacted people across the world, especially our local community of Johns Creek. Although we all lived through this worldwide pandemic, everyone experienced it differently. Students from Student Leadership Johns Creek will conduct primary and secondary source research by acquiring and analyzing resources such as photographs, art, poetry, videos and oral histories that document the various experiences and perspectives of community members during the pandemic. Once their research is complete, they will select artifacts to include in a travelling exhibit that can be used for educational programming about the pandemic for events in Johns Creek as well as at Mercer University and will create a book further documenting their efforts.
Recording the human experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic is crucial to preserving the history of this remarkable time that we lived through. The students who will be working on this extraordinary grant research are from Johns Creek, Northview, Chattahoochee High Schools and Innovation Academy. They have already begun writing a preliminary essay using sources from the Library of Congress. According to Student Leadership Johns Creek Executive Director Irene Sanders, “we see this as an incredible opportunity for our student leaders to reflect upon this historic time and learn and articulate what happened for future generations to understand.”
Johns Creek Mayor John Bradberry said “I am proud that our own SLJC is once again being recognized for its scholarly research and presentation, this time with a prestigious grant award from the Library of Congress.” Project leader Dr. Katherine Perrotta, Assistant Professor of Middle Grades and Secondary Education at Mercer University Tift College of Education, and Ms. Katlynn Cross, a social studies teacher and doctoral student at the Mercer University Curriculum & Instruction Ph.D. program, have been meeting with the students since August. Dr. Perrotta said, “I am honored to work with these incredible students who are doing an important service to Johns Creek through researching the diverse experiences of their friends, families, and community members during this very difficult time in history.”
SAME STORM DIFFERENT BOATS SLIDES
SAME STORM DIFFERENT BOATS ACCOMPANYING BOOK - please email Irene Sanders if you would like a copy of the password protected book.
STUDENT REFLECTIONS ON PROJECT AT THE MAY 9, 2023 JOHNS CREEK CITY COUNCIL MEETING:
Innovation Academy - Nyneishia Janarthanan
Northview High School - Rohan Mistry
Johns Creek High School - Maggie Dowd
Secretary of State Ambassadors - Nicholas Stone
This project was inspired by the community engagement and citizenship of the youth of Johns Creek. Student Leadership Johns Creek, which is in its 10th year of service, plays an integral role in cultivating the city’s young people’s talents and skills to be the future leaders of Johns Creek, our state, and our country. After completing a Georgia Humanities-funded project in partnership with Mercer University Tift College of Education, Student Leadership Johns Creek (SLJC), and the Johns Creek Historical Society (JCHS) where students in the SLJC program researched and filmed documentaries about the history and preservation efforts of the Macedonia African Methodist Church Cemetery, we realized that these students remained engaged in community service despite experiencing the ravages of living through the COVID-19 pandemic. This class of SLJC students were in middle school when the pandemic began. We realized that documenting this time in history is like sharing how everyone’s diverse experiences was akin to riding out the same storm in different boats. Thus, the project was born.
We rallied our team of researchers, graphic designers, archivists, historians, and educators from Mercer University Tift College of Education, Student Leadership Johns Creek, the Johns Creek Historical Society, City University of New York (CUNY) Gotham Center K-12 Education to create a curriculum for students to research the origins of the pandemic in order to conduct their own original research of diverse experiences of community members. The team worked together in applying for a Mercer University Office of the Provost Humanities Seed Grant and a Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Grant with the Eastern Region at Waynesburg University to fund the creation of this exhibit and companion book. We are in gratitude for their generous funding and support of this project!
Students began this project in August 2022 by reflecting on their own experiences, feelings, and questions they had about the pandemic. Next, students conducted primary and secondary source research using Library of Congress TPS document analysis strategies of the Library of Congress’ growing archive documenting the pandemic. In September 2022, Students wrote a historical analysis essay about the origins of the pandemic and what they learned about this time of uncertainty by citing evidence from primary sources in the archive. From October 2022 through March 2023, students worked in groups to find and analyze the historical significance of specific artifacts that documented diverse experiences of community members during the pandemic. These artifacts and reflections are highlighted in this exhibit and companion book. Students also designed the logo, exhibit, book covers, and event invitations.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a modern-day crisis that every person around the world lived through, yet experienced in vastly different ways. This project aims at inspiring citizens, particularly students, in local history research by documenting the living history of the COVID-19 pandemic as civic engagement and community service. Our goal in preserving the experiences, voices, and narratives of people during this pandemic is to inform future generations on how to persevere through uncertain and challenging events. We hope you enjoy this experience!