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.
During March, in celebration of Women's History Month, the Severn Alumni office partnered with faculty and students to share the stories of women changemakers throughout Severn's history. From a ten-part series for our younger Admirals to a panel discussion with Upper School SWAG and Z-Club, these programs illuminate the lasting impact generations of women have made in upholding Severn's mission since 1914.
Gun control. COVID-19. Incarceration rates by race. Degrees earned by gender. Are these topics you'd expect from a typical precalculus assignment? Mr. Andrew Otero's Upper School precalculus class is anything but typical. He has a passion for challenging his students to think independently, to form data-based arguments about topics that matter, and to develop habits of mind that reach beyond math. As data literacy becomes an increasingly valuable skill, Mr. Otero's precalculus classroom is a practice ground for translating big mathematical ideas into real-world solutions.
The 8th-grade musical is a milestone for our middle schoolers. Eighth graders hone their theater chops all year to put on a dazzling spring performance for the entire school, family, and friends. But with restrictions in place, separate cohorts, and limitations on visitors, our Middle School performing arts crew had to figure out a way to turn this tradition on its head. Under the guidance of drama coaches extraordinaire Ms. Cathy Hewitt Carper '81 and Ms. Kathleen Donovan, along with the audio recording expertise of music teacher Mr. Kirk McAuliffe, our 8th graders adapted three hilarious stage plays into one of the fastest growing media formats out there. Drumroll please . . . presenting the first-ever Severn School 8th-grade audio series, Podcasts With Fairy Tale Twists! Bravo to the vocal stylings of the class of 2025!
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.
For the past several years, our Upper School chapter of the Junior Classical League (JCL) has hosted an array of events including toga parties, Saturnalia celebrations, and certamina (quiz-bowl-style contests) to celebrate and expand their knowledge of Latin and Roman history, mythology, and culture. This year, the club brought some light-hearted fun to Price Auditorium, following guidelines for COVID safety, for one Friday night of game-show-inspired shenanigans with a Classical twist.
Multicultural Alliance (MA) is a student-led club that aims to promote cultural awareness and unity in our Upper School. Since its inception, it has served as an unofficial affinity space for students of color to share their daily lived experiences at Severn, and where allies are encouraged to join in and support. Over the past two years, under the leadership of ChélaCunningham '21, YealaGrimes '21, Abijah Pennant '21, and Maddie Skinner '21, the club's mission has grown to include more outreach and education as they examine issues and amplify the stories of historically underrepresented communities.
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.
Black History Month provides us with dedicated time to reflect upon and celebrate the countless contributions made to society by Black Americans, and to consider our school’s history and those who powerfully shaped the Severn narrative. Distinguished Alumnus Leroy M. Sparks ’71 broke through barriers to become the first Black student to attend Severn School, paving the way for future Black students and other students of color to join the Severn School community.
Written by Chéla Cunningham '21 and Sarah Dixon '24
On January 26th and 27th, Severn Upper School students, both remote and in-person, came together to focus on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Organized by students for students, Unity Day is the culmination of club planning and open-minded conversation. Though it’s not an academic day, students walk away with a new-found understanding of the different perspectives held by their classmates.
Severn School is pleased to announce the 2020-21 Rolland M. Teel Distinguished Alumni Award recipient is Kate Orff, Severn Class of 1989. This award, named for the founder of Severn School, is the highest honor the school bestows upon an alumnus/a. The award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated outstanding service to humanity, service to the community, professional achievement, or service to Severn School. Ms. Orff is the 40th individual member of the Severn community to be inducted.
Admiral alumni are walking proof of the value of a Severn education; a large part of that value lies in relationships. Our alumni remain connected after graduation, with the support of friendship that can last a lifetime. Admirals build professional bonds once in the working world. And increasingly, our alumni stay connected with Severn through mentorship programs with current students. Embracing the global switch to virtual connections this year, Director of Alumni Relations Dr. Carrie Grimes '91 has broadened that reach, inviting Admirals far and wide to share their time and expertise with our students.
Public speaking is a challenge, even for the most seasoned pros. It involves a complex set of skills, hours of preparation, and the courage to share your voice with an audience. Every fall, our 8th graders face this challenge head-on with the 8th grade speech assignment. Many say this is one of the biggest challenges of their middle school experience, but also the most satisfying.
From drama productions in the stone amphitheater to team-building exercises on the challenge course, teachers and students use the James M. Stine Environmental Center in many ways. But that is only part of the value it provides our school. Situated along the Severn River, the center is home to a diverse selection of native tree and plant species. It is a rich carbon sink that offsets some of our community's carbon footprint. But as climate change progresses and sea levels rise, the center is vulnerable. To explore what that might mean for our community, our Upper School Climate Science class conducted a in-depth study, bringing their understanding of global climate change home to our backyard.