Over the course of more than 100 years, Severn has transformed itself, when and where appropriate, in response to the changing educational landscape, while simultaneously maintaining the timeless aspects of its founding principles. Severn is a vibrant, dynamic school in which students have many opportunities to explore, discover, investigate and create across a wide range of disciplines and activities.
In 1914, a 28-year-old teacher and his young wife crossed the river from Annapolis to open a boarding school. Rolland M. 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 for 41 years (a title later changed to headmaster) 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 school.
Even while fostering close ties to the Naval 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 sixth grade in 1978.
Since then, the physical plant has improved greatly. The latest milestone is the opening of the newly renovated Teel Academic Center, featuring a two-story library, the Centennial Rotunda whose interior walls are inscribed with the name of every Severn graduate from the first 100 years, and the Graw Innovation Center where students can explore, design, and experiment with ideas and concepts.
Immediately adjacent is Creeden Hall which houses Severn’s Upper School program. The building, named for Headmaster Bill Creeden and his wife Debbie—a long-time math teacher—features a three-story Foucault pendulum, science labs and prep rooms, a greenhouse, a tiered lecture hall, classrooms, two computer labs, and greatly-needed student space.
The Robert E. McCleary Student Center includes Price Auditorium, Bauer Dining Hall, Carpenter Lecture Hall, Upper School art rooms, a photography lab, recording studio, dance studio, computer labs, art studios, and general classrooms.
The Edward St. John Athletic Center, which opened in 2008, continues to be a star in Severn’s crown. This 44,000 square foot multi-purpose field house holds basketball courts, a fitness center, teaching and reception areas, and a training center, staff by two full-time. licensed athletic trainers.
Meanwhile, down the street in nearby Arnold, Maryland, Chesapeake Academy opened in 1980 by four women: Louise Sivy, Helen Braun, Ethel Rew, and Patricia Troy. They recognized a need for an independent early childhood and elementary program offering small classes and a challenging multi-faceted curriculum.
The women had been colleagues at Wroxeter-on-the-Severn School (which closed in 1979), and opened Chesapeake Academy with just 36 students. Classes were held at a space previously occupied, believe it or not, by a beauty parlor. The next year classes were held in a local church before moving to the present location on Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard, just a few miles from Annapolis.
In January 2013, the Boards of Trustees of Severn School and Chesapeake Academy each voted to merge the schools, effective July 1, 2013, making Severn a school that extends uninterrupted from preschool through 12th grade. We’ve long enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with Chesapeake Academy welcoming many students into our Middle School and sharing many reciprocal agreements. Simply put, the fit was a natural one.
The combined Severn School is the largest and oldest independent school in Anne Arundel County. The Arnold location was renamed Severn School Chesapeake Campus.
With a rich history more than 100 years in the making, we take great pride in our outstanding team of educators, our comprehensive curriculum, and our extensive array of athletic teams, performing and visual arts, community service opportunities, and co-curricular activities.
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 head of school. 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.
2012 Construction begins on an Outdoor Environmental Center behind the Academic buildings on the Teel Campus. What eventually becomes the Stine Outdoor Education Center now boasts a tiered outdoor classroom, trails, a counsel ring, challenge course with low ropes to promote team building, and an artist's reflection area.
2013 Severn School and Chesapeake Academy merge. Chesapeake Academy is renamed Severn School Chesapeake Campus.
2014 Severn celebrated its Centennial with a year-long slate of events, culminating with The Big Party in May. June marked the graduation of the 100th Severn School class, and the groundbreaking for the new portion and significant renovation of Teel Academic Center.
2015 The School dedicates the newly renovated Teel Academic Center featuring a two-story library, the Centennial Rotunda whose interior walls are inscribed with the name of every Severn graduate, and the Graw Innovation Lab where students can explore, design, and experiment with ideas and concepts.