We did it. We made it through. We not only survived, we thrived. From hybrid learning and quarantines through the fall and winter to welcoming each grade back to campus in full and resuming in-person gatherings this spring, this year was a roller coaster of challenges and triumphs, loss and laughter, struggle and growth. As we bid a fond farewell to the 20-21 school year, we pause to celebrate milestone moments in our students' lives with graduation and promotion ceremonies, thankfully held in person with guests. Reflecting on the many ways in which the past year kept us apart, we can say with certainty that Severn Admirals are better together.
What is beauty? Is it something we see? Something we feel? Can our actions be beautiful? Last week's Open Doors lessons for grades preschool through five explored the meaning of beauty inside and out through Matt de la Peña's award-winning children's book, Last Stop on Market Street. Part of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion curriculum, these sessions of Open Doors encouraged students to join a young boy and his grandmother as they travel through the city, finding beauty and positivity in unexpected places.
Through every part of our curriculum, Lower School teachers strive to expand their students' understanding of the many different ways of being in the world. For our youngest learners, real-life experience is a critical part of developing those understandings. In a recent Zoom visit with high school students from the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind, first graders in Ms. Cowell and Ms. Wong's classes learned that while communication might not look the same for everyone, a shared love of stories and connection puts us on common ground.
Our Lower School mindfulness curriculum gives young students tools to prevent, recognize and address issues from a state of calm self-awareness. It’s about learning simple things we can do each day to get through those times when emotions run high. In a recent lesson with Lower School guidance counselor Ms. Karin Mitchell, first graders explored the concept of peace and how to create it first inside themselves and then out in the world.
In the weeks before the U.S. presidential election, our 3rd graders dove into the history of voting and the current voting process as part of their social studies curriculum. They used this research to write persuasive paragraphs on the importance of voting and Zoomed with our Upper School AP U.S. Government and Politics class to share their ideas. As Sky '30 said, "If you're eighteen years old, you are able to watch the debates and pick the candidate you want as President. Election day is a chance to make a difference you will never forget!"
The annual Veterans Day assembly on Chesapeake Campus is a tradition loved by all. Our 5th grade class leads the ceremony, sharing information about the history and importance of Veterans Day along with personal interviews with or anecdotes about family and friends who have served. Because we can't gather to honor our veterans in person this year, 5th graders used what they've learned about history, community, and technology to prepare a digital ceremony with personal touch.
Success in math involves much more than just working with numbers. It's about developing a growth mindset and the confidence to bravely tackle challenges when they inevitably come along. As an extension of our annual "Week of Inspirational Math," Lower School Math Specialist Ms. Stacy Shaener is using strengths-based strategies in the classroom to bolster our students' sense of self-efficacy and inspire them to reach toward their fullest potential in math.
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.
Each semester, our Lower School student council takes on a service-learning project to support our global or local communities. Part of our leadership program for second through fifth graders, it’s a chance for young students to develop advocacy and organization skills — thinking outside of themselves to make positive change. Most recently, the council wrote thank you notes to Severn parents and alumni who work in healthcare and are dealing with the stress and challenges presented by COVID-19.
It has fast become a tradition for our kindergarten and first-grade students to visit Teel Campus and deliver homemade letters of advice for seniors during their last few weeks of school. It is a beloved event for our community — a bookend to the year that begins with those same students paired together for Convocation. And although we are in remote learning mode, the tradition carries on thanks to our dedicated faculty and students. This past Thursday on Zoom, we watched the kids’ faces light up as over 160 Severn Admirals joined our virtual celebration — we are grateful to each and every one.
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.