In 1914, a 28-year-old teacher and his wife Susan 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 an Athletic Training Center, staffed 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.