Written by Director of Alumni Relations Carrie MacVean Grimes '91 for the Possibilities Issue of The Bridge (abridged)
In 1914, Rolland M. Teel and his young wife opened a boarding school to prepare young men to pass the entrance examination at the United States Naval Academy. The Teels could never have predicted that their original schoolhouse of six young men would transform over a century into two campuses serving 862 boys and girls, among them preschoolers! Some of today's littlest Lower School Admirals are part of a very special cohort of the next generation of legacy children and grandchildren of alumni, who will carry the lore of Severn to future generations. The Severn stories we write today as a community will long outlast us all; and the experiences of our “Little Legacy” Admirals will colorfully contribute to the next chapter of our history. We asked three legacy families to share what a Severn education means to them.
The Third Generation’s the Charm: Lucy Carter Chinea ‘90 & Scarlet Chinea ‘31
What drew you to Severn's Lower School for Scarlet? We have a history as a family at Severn (my, father, brother and I attended). When I went to tour the Lower School, I was so impressed by the feeling of community that it has and the support that the teachers give their students. We were also impressed with the technology and the opportunity for Scarlet to start Spanish in preschool. She comes home and teaches me! The small classes and the attention to detail in her education are so important to us.
How would you describe Scarlet's experience relative to your own? I see similarities in that she is getting attention in small classes — that is something I really valued at Severn as a student. I also see her forming lifelong friendships already. The lessons that Severn as a whole instills in the kids at such a young age are so important. We appreciate how the school shares that information with us as parents so we can reinforce the same values at home.
Curious and Connected: Shannon Hodges ‘88 & Harper Duncan ‘32
How would you describe Harper's Severn experience relative to your own? At an early age, school is about learning appropriate behavior and being encouraged to be inquisitive. She tells me she wants to be a leader and she embraces structure, which I attribute to Severn. She is invited to be inquisitive but also understand boundaries. She is challenged to problem-solve and we appreciate how communicative the Lower School staff is; this allows for a truly cohesive experience between home and school. It makes things more seamless and it feels like a team effort. Harper just loves school. She has an early foundation of loving school and wanting to go to school — what more could you ask for as a parent? When I attended Severn, I was very social. Severn gave me the foundation to under-stand how to organize my study and social skills. Severn also supported my inquisitive nature. Harper and I share a strong sense of curiosity!
What is interesting about being a legacy family parent at Severn? There are always “blast from the past” moments as an alum being back at Severn. I just ran into an alumna who I played field hockey with at Severn. You never know who you are going to run into! Lots of moments take you back in time. My class at Severn had a very unique spirit; we are all very open people. We just celebrated our 30th reunion and it was a great time!
We Are One Severn: Serena Flood ‘02 & Vanesa Flood ‘28
What do you hope Vanesa will get from her Lower School experience? Vanesa wants to be a future leader. Nothing would make me happier than to send a confident, courageous, conscious, secure, smart, creative and emotionally intelligent young woman out into the world and have her seize her dreams. Severn is helping me instill these qualities in her. I don't want Vanesa to have any regrets or miss any opportunities. It is important for me that she forges relationships with her peers, attends as many events as she can, participates in activities that interest her, absorbs everything that Severn has to offer and gets the best possible education in the process.
How do you think the next generation of “Little Legacy Admirals” will shape the narrative at Severn? Our children are growing up in turbulent times. Severn leads with character, conduct, and scholarship, but that's not enough. Children aren't just practicing fire drills in school anymore. They are learning how to survive school shootings. Our country is plagued by national tragedies that are fueled by hatred and overwhelming ignorance. So how can this next generation shape Severn's narrative? We can't normalize things like racism, violence, hatred, bigotry and ignorance. Severn must also be “intentionally diverse” from the ground up. The best way to ensure that our children become good citizens is to have classrooms that are representative of the real world. That needs to start in preschool. Black, white, brown, Asian, Pakistani, Muslim, atheist, awkward, jock, trans — we are one Severn. We respect each other. We have compassion for one another. We love our neighbors as we love ourselves. There's no better way to teach that than with small children who can grow together and become adults who change our world.