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.
The past several weeks have been a storm of uncertainty, presenting challenges that many of us have never faced before. But like a beacon of light through the fog, we find direction and strength in our community. Starting with meetings in early March and through spring break, our faculty and staff worked tirelessly to ensure that we deliver our promise of excellence to families and students while our physical buildings are closed. Wednesday, April 1st, 2020 marked the first official day of comprehensive remote learning for our Lower, Middle and Upper School students. As we navigate through this together, we grow stronger in every way.
Written by Carolyn Campion for the Alchemy issue of The Bridge (abridged version)
For many, the word alchemy conjures up images of wizards, potions and magic. It is the medieval forerunner of chemistry whose practitioners once aimed to convert base metals into gold. But by another definition, alchemy can be viewed as any process through which change or evolution occurs in a seemingly magical and impressive way. Throughout our 105-year history, education at Severn School has continually and intentionally evolved to keep pace in an ever-changing society. What are the elements, the alchemical ingredients, that have helped transform education at Severn into gold?
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.
Last week our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders took a break from their regular class schedules for a morning of innovation, collaboration, and fun. Through a technical writing competition, complex engineering challenges, and NASA-inspired problem-solving scenarios, middle schoolers worked in teams to develop the fundamental elements of the innovator's mindset: curiosity, creativity, perseverance, collaboration, and reflection.
Sixth graders face unique challenges during their first year of middle school. They step onto Teel Campus with an influx of new classmates, newfound independence, and high academic expectations, all while managing the dramatic physical and emotional changes of adolescence. Stress and anxiety are normal responses to all of this change, but young students need practical strategies to manage those emotions. Part of our Transition to Teel curriculum, Health and Wellness is a class designed to help our 6th graders understand these changes, self-regulate and advocate for themselves and their peers.
The famous Rodgers and Hammerstein tune, "My Favorite Things," is a classic holiday song that reminds us of the little things that bring joy to our lives each day. And with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, exams, end of semester projects and more, it’s those little things that keep us going. At a time when everyone seems to be busier than they’d like, it’s important to slow down, gather as a community and celebrate what makes Severn School such a special place. Enjoy some of our favorite seasonal moments as we wave goodbye to 2019 and welcome the new year ahead!