"Portraits of the Pandemic" - Oak Park School Documents What it's Like to Live in a Pandemic

Oak Park - Eighth graders at The Children’s School created a film documenting the ups and downs in our local community during the COVID-19 crisis. The documentary is titled “Portraits of the Pandemic” and is the product of a research project done by the 8th graders about viruses.


The Children’s School is a private, non-profit K-8 school in Oak Park that is project- and inquiry-based. The 8th grade class and their teacher Ms. Gloria Mitchell began the year by studying viruses. They chose to make a documentary for their final project because as Kyrielle, a student in the class, remarked, “We wanted an outcome to our project that would help our community as well as ourselves. We also wanted to reach as many people as possible, and a documentary seemed the best way to do that.”


To create the documentary, students explored how our local schools, businesses, and residents’ own mental health have been affected by the pandemic. In order to do this, students conducted interviews with subjects including OPRF Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Liz Holt, Loyola University epidemiologist Dr. David Shoham, and TCS kindergarten teacher Nadine Brockman.


The pandemic shut down their school, but it couldn’t stop the students from getting quality interviews. Zoom was a frequent platform for these interviews, but some students got creative. Interviews with local business owners were conducted outside their storefronts with masks and social distancing. “It made for a much more personal interview,” said Bea, one of the students who conducted an outdoor interview.


Before the students even began filming, they were visited, via Zoom, by two professional documentary filmmakers, Dan Andries and Anne Northrup. Dan and Anne are also TCS alumni parents. They talked with the class twice, first to give advice, tips and to answer questions, and then second to comment and give feedback on a second draft of the documentary. All their tips were greatly appreciated and, as Ms. Mitchell reflected, “Students and I learned so much from Dan and Anne about creating documentaries. It was great for students to meet with professionals who listened to them and took their work seriously.”


The completed documentary is available to view on the website for The Children’s School, www.thechildrensschool.info, and on the school’s YouTube channel.


For more information on The Children’s School and its programs for grades K-8, visit www.thechildrensschool.info or call 708-484-8033.


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The above press release was written by the 8th Grade Murder of Crows class as part of their overall documentary project to help promote the documentary to the wider community.


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