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History



In 1914, a 28-year-old teacher and his young wife crossed the river from Annapolis to open a boarding school. Rolland and Susan Teel wanted to prepare young men to pass the entrance examination at the United States Naval Academy. The Teels selected Severna Park (then just a small railway stop in Boone, Maryland) because of its accessibility by train, rural atmosphere, and remoteness from “town life” near the Academy. Less than a month after World War I broke out in Europe, Severn School opened its doors to its first six students.

Mr. Teel oversaw many of the improvements to Severn School over the years, always holding to a high standard of character and achievement. Serving as principal (a title later changed to headmaster) for 41 years and Chairman of the Board for another decade, Mr. Teel continued to teach classes. Under our founder’s guidance, Severn changed from a one-year preparatory course to a four-year college preparatory high school in order to meet a shift in admissions policies at the Naval Academy.

Even while fostering close ties to the Academy, Mr. Teel saw that Severn developed its own character. In the 1950s major curriculum reform broadened the School’s offerings and strengthened programs in English, history, and foreign language. This prepared students for a wide range of college choices.

Of course, the School has developed in the years since Mr. Teel. Admitting girls in 1971 and phasing out boarding by 1973, Severn has responded to the needs of the community. The transformation to its present configuration was complete with the addition of the 6th grade in 1978.

Since then, the physical plant has improved greatly, the latest milestone being the opening of the Edward St. John Athletic Center in April of 2008. This 44,000 sq. ft. multi-purpose field house features performance basketball courts, a fitness and conditioning center, locker areas, teaching and reception space, as well as a training center and concession area.

On the other side of campus, Creeden Hall houses Severn’s Upper School program. The building, named for former Headmaster Bill Creeden, includes a three-story Foucault pendulum, science labs and prep rooms, a greenhouse, a tiered lecture hall, classrooms, two computer labs, and student gathering space.

The Robert E. McCleary Student Center includes Price Auditorium, Bauer Dining Hall, Carpenter Lecture Hall, Powell Conference Room, Upper School 2-D and 3-D art studios, a darkroom, a dance studio, a music room, a Middle School computer lab, and general classrooms.

Teel Academic Center, constructed in 1969 with an addition added in 1984, originally housed the School’s boarding students. Now the facility features Middle and Upper School classrooms, Zimmerman Library, the Headmaster’s Office, and College Counseling.


The Severn School student body and faculty in 1917. Standing in the center of the second row are Mr. Teel and the only other master, Mr. Albert Hawkins. Together they handled all teaching and administrative matters, while at the same time providing supervision, regular meals, normal hours, discipline, and a solid background for a student body that began with six but soon climbed to almost 20 boys.

At the extreme right, with his coat unbuttoned, is Edward P. Moore, better known as 'Country' Moore. He was so poorly educated before coming to Severn that in math classes he literally counted on his fingers. Through his vast determination however, he secured entrance into the Naval Academy in 1917, was awarded a commission, and eventually rose to the rank of Rear Admiral.
Severn Timeline
1914
Founded by Rolland and Susan Teel with only one other teacher, Albert Hawkins. Severn’s maroon and white colors originated from Mrs. Teel’s graduation floral arrangements that included mulberry and snowball combinations from her garden.

1919
Severn becomes a four-year preparatory school. “Old Main” building is constructed—known in its later years as Teel Hall.

1920
First interscholastic team, wrestling, finishes inaugural season undefeated. The Dining Hall was constructed on what we now call ‘The Little Field.” Three private homes along Maple Avenue purchased to be used as dormitory space.

1928
Lacrosse started at Severn.

1941-1945
WWII sees Severn alumni in action around the world. 73 lost.

1955
Severn adds a “junior school” (grades 7 & 8). Woods Hall is constructed. Albert K. Hawkins becomes Severn’s second Headmaster.

1957
Mr. Hawkins retires after 43 years of service to the School. Mr. Paul J. Kesmodel becomes Severn’s third Headmaster.

1963
Severn builds Memorial Gymnasium, dedicated as a tribute to the Severn alumni who gave their lives in service to our country.

1964
Mr. Joseph A. DiVenuto becomes Severn’s fourth Headmaster.

1966
Modern, colonial-style dormitory completed on the banks of the Severn River. Now known as Teel Academic Center.

1968
Admiral Alfred G. Ward is named Severn’s fifth Headmaster.

1971
Severn goes co-ed, as a small number of female day students are admitted.

1973
Boarding is discontinued; dorm is turned into an academic building.
James W. Donnelly is appointed Severn’s sixth Headmaster.

1978
Sixth grade is added.

1981
The Boone House is purchased by Severn School.

1984
Teel Academic Center completed, and the original Teel Hall razed. Edson P. Sheppard becomes Severn’s 7th Headmaster.

1989
Severn celebrates its 75th anniversary. The Class of ‘89 buries a time capsule beneath the Boone House water mill.

1993
William J. Creeden becomes Severn’s 8th Headmaster.

1997
On Homecoming Day in October, the School breaks ground for the new Student Center adjacent to Teel Academic Center. The center is dedicated in April, 1999.

2000
The Alumni Walkway, the central passage through campus, is dedicated to all Severn School alumni.

2001
Ground is broken for the new Upper School Academic Building on what was known as the Sackett property. The building is dedicated in 2002.

2003
Severn celebrates its 90th year; Severn wins National Fed Challenge competition.

2006
The Upper School Academic Center is renamed Creeden Hall in honor of Bill and Debbie Creeden. Douglas H. Lagarde is appointed Severn’s 9th Headmaster. Ground is broken for the new Edward St. John Athletic Center.

2008
Edward St. John Athletic Center opens. Severn wins the Interscholastic Sailing Association Fleet Racing National Championship and brings home the Clifford D. Mallory Trophy. Two synthetic turf fields are completed.