Students document the pandemic’s impact

Northview High students Riya Havanur (center) and Irene Huang showcase the work they did with Student Leadership Johns Creek to document the pandemic's impact.

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

Northview High students Riya Havanur (center) and Irene Huang showcase the work they did with Student Leadership Johns Creek to document the pandemic's impact.

Even though they lived through it and remember it, teen members of Student Leadership Johns Creek found documenting pandemic experiences still brought surprising lessons.

For 17-year-old Alisha Kohli, a junior at Innovation Academy in Alpharetta, seeing how jobs changed was eye-opening.

“It was inspiring to see how different city and police officials changed their entire roles,” she said. “Now, their day- to-day integrates more COVID-friendly approaches. They also worked together in ways they had never done before, and it was cool to see the changes they made that are still in effect.”

Kohli was one of 30 teens from Johns Creek, Northview and Chattahoochee high schools and Innovation Academy who worked on “Same Storm, Different Boat,” a project that interviewed area residents and officials about the pandemic’s impact. Funded by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources and Mercer University’s Office of the Provost Humanities, the effort was a collaboration with Mercer, Student Leadership Johns Creek, the Johns Creek Historical Society and the Gotham Center for New York City History.

For almost a year, students interviewed a cross-section of people while researching photos, art, poetry, videos and oral histories that told the story of the pandemic years. Their work was compiled into exhibit panels, a video and an 82-page book that explains their research process in a collaborative essay.

“It’s really interesting to read that now, post-pandemic,” said Irene Sanders, executive director of Leadership Johns Creek/Student Leadership Johns Creek. “I found myself saying, ‘Oh, I forgot about that!’ a lot.”

Rohan Mistry, a 16-year-old junior at Northview High, was part of the audio-visual research group.

“I got interested because this project was different from other everyday opportunities,” he said. “This was a chance to see different aspects and experiences in one community, one society. Documenting things like virtual proms and graduations, and drive-by birthdays – things we could never imagine pre-pandemic – showed how the pandemic impacted social and economic levels.”

In late April, students showcased their work at an exhibit hosted by Northview High and another held at Mercer. Sanders said local groups have expressed an interest in displaying the exhibit that will eventually be housed at the Ocee Library in Johns Creek where patrons will be able to check it out. She also expects selected artifacts will become part of a traveling exhibit for schools and other educational groups.

“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,” said Sanders.

A link to the video is on YouTube: Information about Student Leadership Johns Creek is online at

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