At Severn School, we are scholars, innovators, athletes, artists and more. We believe in character conduct, scholarship, leadership and service. And most of all, we believe in each other — we are family. These are the stories that tie us together.
This past Mother’s Day weekend Trey Dring ’23, Will Toomey ’23, Meghan Chu ’19, Eric Wisnom ’19, Grant Shanahan ’20, Michael Hesford ’21, Taylor Boteler ’22, Lila Gibson ’22, and Tristan Collins ’22 participated in the NASP (National Archery in Schools Program) U.S. Eastern National Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky with 15,000 other archers from across the country. The archery community at Severn is extremely supportive, with older and younger archers working together to improve their technique and enjoy the fellowship of the group. Congratulations to our 18-19 archery team for their achievements on the range and in the classroom!
Wednesday’s promotion ceremony marked an important milestone for the class of 2023. Attended by supportive parents, faculty and friends, the event reflected both the heartfelt sincerity and togetherness we have grown to love in this class. In his well-prepared and expertly delivered speech, 8th-grade President Konner Smith ‘23 remarked, “In a way, middle school has been a warm up for a much bigger game — the next four years of high school as well as the game of life. Our warm ups over the last three years have not only been worthwhile and needed, but filled with laughter, challenges and memories.”
Fifth graders conveyed mixed emotions to the audience of family, faculty and friends at the promotion ceremony on Tuesday. As each student took the stage to deliver heartfelt speeches, they expressed gratitude for their time at Severn Lower School and nervous — but confident — excitement for the big jump to sixth grade. The leadership skills and self-confidence they’ve gained have well-prepared them for the new challenges and experiences that await them in middle school.
In April, Teel Campus welcomed award-winning scientific and medical illustrator Ms. Ikumi Kayama as our first Visual Artist in Residence. She founded Studio Kayama, a studio dedicated to creating dynamic and accurate illustrations to enhance the learning experience, and is vice president of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. She shared her time and talents with our Middle and Upper School students, demonstrating how to communicate complex ideas through art.
Students in the Upper School elective Self-Discovery Through Literature recently met with award-winning author Olga Grushin to discuss her novel, Forty Rooms. As our seniors journey toward self-discovery beyond Severn, the visit was a chance to further investigate the mysteries of this philosophical and thought-provoking novel. During the intimate gathering, our students and teachers were honored by the writer’s interest in sharing her life and work with our community.
The class of 2019 exudes an energy of camaraderie and purpose that has developed throughout their years together. Spend just a few moments with any member of this class and you'll feel it — their sense of passion and community is tangible. And every member of this class has made an indelible mark on our school. Over the past few weeks, our seniors shared happy tears, wistful smiles, and joyful memories as they prepared to begin a new chapter in their lives. Enjoy this recap of their last days at Severn and join us in wishing a fond farewell to the class of 2019!
For the first year, our Middle School offered Girls Who Code as an elective for 7th and 8th graders. Suggested by Lilly Baker ‘23 who heard about the program through her family, this elective teaches basic computer coding principles within the framework of a larger goal or purpose. The inaugural Girls Who Code class chose the theme “Bettering Ourselves: Mental Health and How to Improve It” to frame each of their projects. This elective is about more than just learning to code. It’s about working together to make a positive difference in each other’s lives and the greater community.
Last week our kindergarten and first-grade students paid a special visit to the class of 2019 to share their best advice for our seniors as they graduate and move on to college. Offering advice ranging from practical, “make sure to get up on time and work hard,” to endearing, “be kind,” our young students wrote and read each letter aloud to our seniors. Though our oldest and youngest students are separated on two campuses, these moments reveal a shared sense of community and camaraderie that bonds Severn Admirals of any age.
Article by Severna Park Voice journalist Zach Sparks, reprinted with permission
Severn School students were treated to an atypical lesson on April 22 as they were regaled with tales of Abraham Lincoln as a professional wrestler, Abigail Adams as a Caribbean pirate, and the reckless Benedict Arnold, who, as the kids learned, was a hero before he was a traitor. Those tales came courtesy of author Steve Sheinkin, who traveled from New York to speak with students about his books and the writing process.
Guest article by Director of Alumni Relations Carrie MacVean Grimes '91
Last week, Severn juniors and seniors boarded the early Northeast Regional Amtrak train to New York City to pound the pavement of the Big Apple and take a deep dive into the professional world of finance. In a mentoring adventure organized through a collaboration between Math Department Chair Julien Meyer and Director of Alumni Relations Carrie MacVean Grimes ‘91, students from Severn’s Investment Club and classes in financial algebra and economics spent the day traversing Manhattan, to gain insights from professionals working in the fast-paced field of finance.
Best-selling author and educator Julie Lythcott-Haims shared two very different, personal and thought-provoking presentations for our 2019 David Astle Memorial Lecture on April 9th. Reading excerpts from her memoir, she challenged Upper School students to find compassion and empathy for the experiences of marginalized people in our country. Later that evening, she shared personal stories from her life as a parent, struggling to find balance between supporting children’s growth and preparing them for independence. Through both talks, the author revealed the full spectrum of her experiences — from anger and frustration to joy and belonging — leaving both crowds inspired to create a better world for ourselves and each other.
Every year we welcome hundreds of grandparents, family members and friends to our school to share the Severn experience with the children in their lives. Students eagerly guide their grandfriends around campus, introduce them to their teachers, and share a bit of what life at Severn is like from day to day. We are grateful to our grandfriends for investing the time and resources necessary to visit and most of all, for taking an active part in shaping what it means to be an Admiral for every student.
Have you ever been to a naturalization ceremony? It's a hopeful, dignified event that symbolizes a new chapter in the lives of people who were once only seen as visitors to our country, newly recognized as full citizens with all the accompanying protections and responsibilities. Every year, Severn fourth graders participate in a naturalization ceremony as a culminating activity for their study of immigration and personal heritage. Through this experience, our students not only learn about the path to citizenship, but also develop empathy and a broader understanding of what makes America such a diverse and thriving country.
Severn Education Series (spring 2019); written by Dan Keller, Middle School Head & Middle School Teachers Carrie Ball, Lisa Clarke, Mary Foard, and Shaina Longway
Imagine what it is like to be an 11-year-old student, fresh from elementary school, joining a campus of 6th-12th graders. This transition is a time of accelerated cognitive, physical, social and emotional growth. How can a young person successfully manage those changes as they develop their identity?
Written by Carolyn Campion for the Winter 2019 Possibilities Issue of The Bridge
What might the future hold for a Severn field hockey and lacrosse athlete? What are the possibilities? For Josie Owen '08, the answer is sales manager for Nike. Josie has worked in various roles for Nike over the past four years. She started off as the West Coast lacrosse specialty sales representative and more recently moved into the role of territory sales manager for Nike team. In this position, she sells team sports gear — uniforms, practice packs and team apparel — to high schools in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri. “My favorite part of this job is building relationships with teams and coaches because sports in high school were such an important part of my life. I feel passionate about this work and it's really fun!”
In 2018, Harvard College admitted only 4.5% of its more than 40,000 applicants. The United States Naval Academy accepted a little over 8% of its 16,000 applicants for the same year. While there is no shortage of colleges to enroll students overall, there is a growing perception of scarcity for admission to ivy league and top-tier schools. And even for highly esteemed but less selective institutions, admission is competitive. How can you best prepare as your child ventures into the unfamiliar landscape of choosing and applying to college? Our college counseling department gives families an insider's look with Peter Van Buskirk’s “The Admission Game.”
From the Winter 2019 Possibilities Issue of The Bridge
Philanthropy is defined as the desire to promote the welfare of others through a gift of time or treasure for humanitarian purposes. It is so much more than simply donating to a cause. The spirit of philanthropy — that which changes lives, fosters progress, and improves our world — lies in the meaning and intention behind the gift. It is not only the gift but the giver that makes this positive change possible.
Driven by curiosity, courage and creativity, our Lower School recently competed in the Destination Imagination regional tournament at Dr. Henry A Wise, Jr High School in Upper Marlboro. With the support of faculty advisor Ms. Hayman, our enthusiastic team of 5th graders, Severn Sparkles, ranked 3rd in the Monster Effects engineering challenge, bringing home a plaque to display at school with big smiles all around.
In our Upper School introduction to computer science classes, students learn the basics of Processing, a programming language similar to Java. But more than that specific language, they learn the developer mindset; a way of thinking that welcomes struggle as part of the process. Students tackle open-ended challenges without a prescribed path to follow, working at their own pace and in their own style. For the final assignment of the quarter, teacher Mr. Alan Kraut gives his students the freedom to design and build their own programs.
Severn School is proud to announce the 2019 David Astle Memorial Lecture Series speaker, Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of New York Times bestseller How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. She is also known for writing Real American, a critically acclaimed memoir detailing her personal battle with low self-esteem that American racism inflicts on people of color. On Tuesday, April 9th Lythcott-Haims will deliver a keynote address to the Upper School discussing Real American. Her visit will culminate in the evening with her “How to Raise an Adult” keynote address for the Severn community and invited guests.
Each year The Capital Gazette, Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, and other local groups elect students to receive the Outstanding Student Achievement Award. This year, three Severn juniors were honored at the award ceremony on March 13th, 2019 along with other outstanding students from the Anne Arundel County community. Join us in congratulating Danica Williams '20, Samuel Bruce '20, and Lindsay King '20 for their remarkable academic achievement, success in the visual or performing arts, and/or exceptional citizenship in our school and the surrounding community. The following is a reprinted version of the Capital Gazette article, click here to read in its original location.
During the transitional middle school years, it’s important for students to explore and express who they are as individuals and as part of the global community. Art teacher Ms. Yehee Shin finds creative ways for students to learn the basic elements and principles of art and design through the lens of that self-exploration. For their most recent project, Ms. Shin challenged her classes to look within themselves and create designs for a platform that many of us use every day, Google. One of many lessons that explore the concept of identity through art, the Doodle 4 Google project gives our students an opportunity to design collaboratively, individually and for a real audience.
The weekend of February 21st our Water Street Players staged the hilarious musical comedy "Once Upon a Mattress," a side-splitting Broadway production based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea." Their rollicking spin on the familiar classic of royal courtship and comeuppance had the audience in stitches with Renaissance-inspired shenanigans! The following is a reprinted review of the show from Sharon Lee Tegler of the Capital Gazette. Read the article in its original location here.
Over the past several weeks, our 5th-grade students explored American Jazz as researchers, artists and musicians. Librarian Ms. Pilar Okeson teamed up with art teacher Ms. Jonnie Friedman and music teacher Ms. Mary Gaylord to create a multisensory unit based on the music of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Trombone Shorty.
Last Wednesday our entire Middle School participated in discussions and activities to bring our community together through positivity and determination. Faculty advisor Ms. Diana Talbott and the student-led Community Life Committee hope this day inspires, encourages and motivates our entire middle school to develop more positive mindsets. This annual event is an opportunity for students to practice advocacy, leadership and empathy while building strong relationships outside of their normal social circles.
For the third year in a row, the Zimmerman Library hosted an all-day African American Read-In for students on Teel Campus. To celebrate Black History Month and highlight literature by African American authors, librarians Ms. Whitney Etchison, Ms. Diana Michel and Ms. Mary Carrington covered the shelves in a variety of books ranging from literary classics to contemporary graphic novels. Students from Upper School Art Club and Multicultural Alliance also decorated the library with original artwork and poetry written by African American authors. With snacks, comfy seats and quiet nooks around every corner, it was a great day to grab a book and read-in.
Did you know that some of the first home computers looked more like table tops than the ubiquitous keyboards with glossy screens that we see today? Our 2nd and 3rd-grade students got a personalized tour through the evolution of technology at the Computer History Museum in early February. Perhaps it's more accurate to say they got a robot's-eye look at the famous museum located just around the corner from Google HQ in Mountain View, Calif. With Lower School technology specialist Ms. Vicki Dabrowka at the controls, our students explored the museum through the eyes of a telepresence robot.
What started as brief activities to share experiences gleaned from local and national diversity conferences and to honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Upper School Unity Day has evolved into a full-day conference including a keynote speaker, workshops, community reflection activities and a podcast — all organized and led by our students. Although 2019 marks only the second official Unity Day event, it feels like a tradition for our community. As faculty facilitator Ms. Melissa Osquist said, “There are big, global issues that our students want to understand. And they know that even here at school, we all have so many different opinions. They want to learn how to have good conversations with people that have different viewpoints.”
Many topics in science are straightforward. Few people will argue whether or not water is made of hydrogen and oxygen. But issues more closely tied to human behavior are often debated in both academia and the court of public opinion. What is the extent of human impact on global climate change? Are there benefits to holistic medicine? We look to the scientific community to answer these questions, but even within those circles, there are varied perspectives. Upper School chemistry teacher Mr. Nick DeMarte asks his classes, “If science is a body of facts, why are there different opinions?” And then the debates begin.
Our 2019 Dillon Moran Musicians in Residence program was a two-day musical event unlike any other at Severn School. Jill Collier Warne, Sam Mumford and Ross McDouall of Creative Connections took the stage on Thursday morning with a set of drums, sampling and recording equipment, a guitar, and a cello. But instead of beginning their residency with a complete performance as many have in the past, they put out a call to our community. “We have some very small musical ideas,” said Sam “but we want to access your voices and your thoughts about your community and the way you see yourselves in society.” Over the next two days, students from our Upper and Middle Schools worked with the trio to create the unique multi-media performance, "I Collecting us."
This month, our littlest learners joined the proud ranks of regular library patrons on Chesapeake Campus. While early reading skills have always been a part of our Early School curriculum, our preschool students now visit the library each week for storytime, media literacy lessons and a whole lot of fun. Right from the start, our students learn that the library is a welcoming place to explore their interests and the world around them through literacy-rich, hands-on experiences.
At the end of last quarter, our 6th-grade classrooms buzzed with energy as students prepared for an interactive museum bringing together weeks of hard work. Based on Deborah Ellis’s award-winning young adult novel The Breadwinner, this project gives our students a broader view of the world. It helps them make connections from one class to another, one person to another and one culture to another.
Guest article by Molly Saum '17, Severn School Communications Office intern
When students are young they may feel as though their voices are not heard. However, this is not the case at our Lower School. Every semester two students from each second through fifth-grade class practice leadership, teamwork and service with the Lower School Student Council. Their main task is to work together to complete a service-learning project involving the entire school. This semester’s council chose to support Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. During the final week of this project, we interviewed our Lower School leaders to learn about their experience. As one 3rd grader said, "A lot of it was hard, but it feels good that we have achieved this much."
Guest article by Molly Saum '17, Severn School Communications Office intern
I remember this time two years ago watching the College Counseling Alumni Panel in Roche Lecture Hall, nervous and anxious to start my college journey. Last week I watched the same event from a new perspective, now as an intern for the Severn Communications Office. This year’s panel shared meaningful advice with the class of 2019 to guide them into the future with reminders of everything Severn has given them. As I listened to the panelists, one quote in particular resonated with me, “The further away I get from Severn the more I appreciate it.”
Have you ever spoken to a large audience? Shared something personal about your life or someone close to you? Public speaking can be challenging even for those who do it frequently. It involves a complex set of skills, hours of preparation and the courage to make yourself vulnerable to the onlooking crowd. As challenging as it can be, public speaking is an essential tool to create positive change in our community and the larger world. With English teacher Mr. Joe Christie as their guide, our middle schoolers face that challenge head-on with the 8th Grade Public Address.