The 8th-grade musical is a milestone for our middle schoolers. Eighth graders hone their theater chops all year to put on a dazzling spring performance for the entire school, family, and friends. But with restrictions in place, separate cohorts, and limitations on visitors, our Middle School performing arts crew had to figure out a way to turn this tradition on its head. Under the guidance of drama coaches extraordinaire Ms. Cathy Hewitt Carper '81 and Ms. Kathleen Donovan, along with the audio recording expertise of music teacher Mr. Kirk McAuliffe, our 8th graders adapted three hilarious stage plays into one of the fastest growing media formats out there. Drumroll please . . . presenting the first-ever Severn School 8th-grade audio series, Podcasts With Fairy Tale Twists! Bravo to the vocal stylings of the class of 2025!
Public speaking is a challenge, even for the most seasoned pros. It involves a complex set of skills, hours of preparation, and the courage to share your voice with an audience. Every fall, our 8th graders face this challenge head-on with the 8th grade speech assignment. Many say this is one of the biggest challenges of their middle school experience, but also the most satisfying.
For 6th, 7th and 8th graders, art class is an introduction to the elements and principles of art in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional formats. And each fall our Middle School artists take over the McCleary Gallery to show their peers and visitors the skills they have developed since the beginning of the year. From self-portraits to sculpture, every project helps our students learn to communicate their unique creative ideas and make broader connections to the world around them.
At the recent Student Council Induction Ceremony, our newly-elected class presidents delivered compelling speeches on service, adaptation, and change, both in-person and remotely. Organized by council advisor and history teacher Mr. Curran, the ceremony was broadcast on Zoom for the entire community to watch from advisory classrooms or home. Their speeches addressed the many challenges of this school year while invoking a sense of hope and unity for our Middle School.
Stories help readers develop empathy. And when an entire community reads the same story at the same time, it's an opportunity to combat intolerance, foster belonging, and explore themes that might otherwise feel intimidating or risky. When empathy and understanding seem to be in short supply around the world, our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders came together, remote and in-person, for our first All Middle School Read with Jerry Craft's award-winning graphic novel, New Kid.
The end of the year is always a busy time at Severn. As students finalize projects, take exams, give presentations and get ready for the next big step, our faculty and staff plan celebrations to mark important milestones in our students’ lives. Each ceremony gives our community a moment to reflect on all that we have accomplished this year and in years past. Although unable to gather physically due to the COVID-19 shutdown, we recreated these occasions on Zoom with every resource possible, including student performances and speeches, heartfelt messages from faculty, and even an in-person (properly distanced!) diploma ceremony for our seniors. Things looked a little different, true. But the unfaltering love for and from our community couldn’t have shined any brighter.
Guest article by Teel Campus Associate Librarian Ms. Diana Ford
Remote learning presented a new challenge for the Battle of the Books 2020, for participants and organizers alike. Typically, students from area schools meet together for this quiz-bowl competition that digs into a fantastic selection of books for young readers. This year, the tournament was virtual. And although the teams couldn’t meet in person, the event proved that our students have a passion for reading (and competing!) no matter the format.
Fitness is a big part of daily life at Severn School. From PE classes and recess to sports teams and clubs, being active and outdoors is something we greatly value in every grade. In addition to the proven physical and mental health benefits of exercise, fitness teaches lessons in character, teamwork, perseverance, safe risk-taking, self-confidence, and more. And although we are not physically on campus together, our values haven’t changed. Severn teachers, coaches, and athletic trainers are keeping us healthy and active during remote learning, raising our collective spirits with creativity, commitment, and love for the kids.
Beware the danger of a single story. This concept, inspired by the Pollyanna Racial Literacy Curriculum and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk by the same name, forms the basis for our new 6th-grade class, I.D.E.A.S. (Identity, Diversity, Equity, and Action at Severn). Developed by Middle School History Teacher Ms. Lisa Clarke, the class navigates historical perspectives on race, culture, and inequity in the U.S. through the lens of groups and individuals whose stories have been hidden throughout history.
Each year, art teacher Ms. Yehee Shin searches for exhibits and contests for Middle School artists to show their work. It’s not about competition or determining who is the most talented, it’s about giving our aspiring artists real-world experience in interpreting ideas and creating for a wider audience. Whether it’s a local art show or a nationwide contest, these opportunities motivate our young artists and help build confidence in their abilities. This spring, four of her students will be featured in the Maryland Art Education Association’s quarterly magazine, MAEAGazette.
On February 25th, our Middle School was proud to welcome Brooklyn-based author and educator Taylor Mali to workshop with our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders on performance poetry. The first in our new Writer in Residence program, the daylong event was an inspiration for our budding writers. From choosing meaningful, tangible imagery to adding emphasis with purposeful phrasing and speed, Mr. Mali shared practical tips to help our students make an impact and move the audience.
From February 18th-21st, the Zimmerman crew transformed the Teel Campus library into a multimedia celebration of Black authors, musicians, artists, and filmmakers with a culminating read-in event on Friday. Librarians Ms. Whitney Etchison, Ms. Diana Ford, and Ms. Mary Carrington covered the shelves in everything from literary classics to contemporary graphic novels. They filled the walls and windows with artwork and quotes, inviting our Middle and Upper School students to read, interact, observe and share. With comfy seats and quiet nooks around every corner, our students explored the stories of Black Americans throughout history and today.