In early March 2020, Wilton High School student Dalton DiCamillo was looking forward to doing his spring senior internship project at the Wilton Historical Society. He was planning to investigate the history of some objects in the collection, but Covid-19 arrived, and the internship program was canceled. However, DiCamillo had an idea about something else he wanted to do instead, as a special interest project.
“Now that we are all in the midst of a global pandemic, I thought it would be interesting to switch my concentration from past events to the current situation, and use the interest project as a platform to document and share the impact of coronavirus on the Wilton community, most specifically the graduating Class of 2020,” he said. The result is “History Now: The Impact of Covid-19 on Wilton’s Class of 2020,” a five-minute documentary video that DiCamillo produced.
Working with members of the Wilton Historical Society’s Education Committee–Kim Mellin, co-director; Katherine Karlik, museum educator; Nick Foster, curator; and trustees Virginia Gunther, Dottie Jankowski, and Rebecca Lin, DiCamillo shaped and refined the project.
“I spent the majority of the project reaching out to the Class of 2020 through a survey, where students could share their personal experiences with me and give permission to include their stories into the project; and cataloging the impact of coronavirus on the class of 2020, ultimately preserving their unique perspectives during this time,” he explained.
He contacted every member of the WHS graduating class by email, asking them to fill out a survey and to submit something that expressed their response to the pandemic. With a window of about a week to reply, the survey had a return rate of 14%. Students provided artwork, photographs, and literary responses, as well as comments and insights about their lives during these stressful times.
The documentary has four sections which reflect the students’ responses to the survey: school closing; the realization that life was changing and how tech played a role; the way graduation was handled; and a focus on the future (“What will you tell your grandchildren about this time?”).
The video is available on the Wilton Historical Society website, in the “History Now: COVID-19 Collecting” section.
The Wilton Historical Society’s initiative History Now: COVID-19 is a three-part project. Part one is a survey available on the website, where anyone can respond to questions about their personal experience as a way of recording stories and commentary about this historic event. Part two is COVID-19 artifact collecting: the Historical Society is asking the public to donate objects related to the pandemic to become a part of the museum’s permanent collection. Part three consists of capturing the response of Wilton public school students to the situation. Along with the documentary created by Wilton High School student Dalton DiCamillo, K-8 students have been asked to provide artwork reflecting their experiences.