Through the Van Eney ‘09 Fellows Program, select seniors take on a year-long project with the potential to reach beyond our community and into the future. Outside of the normal curriculum, these projects reflect our students' growth, maturity, and thirst for learning. Last week, program director Ms. Mary Ellen Carsley hosted a Zoom for our 2020 fellows to share their experiences with families, teachers, and peers. As we watched each student take the screen, speaking eloquently and with true passion, we were impressed by the incredible work our students are capable of when given the time, freedom and support to dream big.
From the evening light of her at-home studio, Ms. Carsley began the event with words of inspiration as she reflected on working with a group of such dedicated and talented students.
“In his now famous interview with LIFE Magazine in 1955 entitled, “An Old Man’s Advice to Youth,” Albert Einstein said, ‘The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.’ Each of these students has, in their own way, displayed a commitment to curiosity and finding the joy and wonder in life through their work. It is now my pleasure and honor to introduce to you this year’s Severn fellows as they present to you a summary of their yearlong journey of creativity, innovation and discovery.” — Ms. Carsley
Following Ms. Carsley’s introduction, each fellow presented a slideshow representing the full arc of their journey from inspiration to completion, including challenges and successes along the way. These exceptional students are an example of Severn’s mission brought to life, demonstrating incredible scholarship, leadership through action, and service to our community and the larger world.
Although their in-depth work can hardly be summarized in a few words, the descriptions below highlight each project's primary goals and purpose. Our fellows also created websites to share their progress throughout the year.
Mackenzie Boughey ‘20: From Adolescence to Advocacy "I created a documentary to showcase and analyze the efforts of various student activists. Their respective causes (which span from the 1960s to the present) demonstrate which methods of activism are more effective when trying to share one’s views with a greater community, and in producing this film I hope to inspire a new generation of activists. Politicians were also interviewed to share advice on how the government responds to social movements." Click here to visit Mackenzie's website.
Hayden Lamb ‘20: Creating a Cleaner Future "I have created a water filter that would, on a much smaller scale, address the needs of the Chesapeake Bay. My filter accomplishes this through mechanical and biological means, and I have proven it to effectively clean bay water." Click here to visit Hayden's website.
Solana Page ‘20 and Maddi Meyer ‘20: Zero-Waste Lifestyle "For our Fellows Project we decided to take on a zero-waste lifestyle and then write about the products that are needed in order to have a successful journey. We spent a lot of time on our project over the summer carpooling from grocery store to grocery store trying to find the most environmentally friendly one. It was important that it also sold good zero-waste products such as reusable snack bags, wool dryer balls, cellulose sponges, bamboo scrub brushes, and more. Living the lifestyle was something very different for us, and writing the book came naturally.” Click here to visit Maddi and Solana's website.
Benj Damon ‘20: Stock Analysis Using ThinkorSwim “My fellows project was designing and coding stock analysis algorithms on ThinkorSwim. I created and used a variety of algorithms to analyze and assist in a variety of trading types and situations.” Click here to visit Benj's website.
Julia Christie ‘20: Women in STEM “I created a mixed research project to see what causes women to not choose STEM-related career paths. With a combination of research and personal surveys completed by a percentage of Severn students and faculty, I am producing a written report with a main purpose of outlining suggestions that Severn and other educational institutions can use to increase female participation and interest in STEM courses. I believe this can provide groundwork for reaching the long-term goal of closing the gender gap in STEM fields in the workforce.” Click here to visit Julia's website.
Alex Lashgari '20 and Jaden Queen '20: J&A Chemistry “J&A Chemistry is a YouTube Channel created to help teach and tutor high school students the basic units of chemistry. The creators, Alex and Jaden, completed Honors Chemistry and AP Chemistry, where they developed their passions for the subject. They wanted to encourage students to have the charisma and passion for chemistry as they do.” Click here to visit Jaden and Alex's website.
Brooke Arnold '20: Pets and Vets “‘Pets and Vets: A Look Inside the World of Veterinary Science’ is a project that focuses on what it is like to be a veterinarian. For this project, I interned at a local veterinary hospital and kept a website to document my time. On that website, I kept a background research page for veterinary diseases, technologies and procedures that I had come in contact with, an illustrations page to upload original anatomical drawings, and a blog to record my experiences at the clinic.” Click here to visit Brooke's website.
Benjamin Berlin '20, Robby Dubinski '20 and Sam Bruce '20: Duberuce “Duberuce is a three-dimensional, interactive, and infinitely-generating video game that encourages the player to create and explore. It is coded in the Java programming language and was spurred by our combined interest in programming, as well as our desire to go beyond the traditional coding curriculum.” Click here to visit Ben, Sam and Robby's website.
Teddy Cromwell '20: Intro to Personal Finance “Over the course of the 2019-2020 school year I have been a part of the Van Eney '09 Fellows Program. With the resources provided to me by the Severn School and my Advisors, Messrs. Bodly, Brunk, and Meyer, I have created a course to educate high school students about personal finance. This course will educate students in many topics that may interest them or that they find necessary from loans to equity investments. With a multimedia approach this course is intended to engage and improve students' skills.” Click here to visit Teddy's website.
James Doss '20: Building a Prosthetic Arm “Over the course of the 2019-2020 school year James Doss has been developing a low-cost and open-source prosthetic for use by lower arm amputees. Utilizing novel manufacturing methods, electronics technology and computer hardware the prime objective has been to deliver a safe and affordable option to traditional professionally made prosthetics." Click here to visit James's website.
Baillie McNitt '20: Your Face-Wash Counts "My project involved the design and construction of a Low-impact Aquatic Debris Instrument, or LADI trawl, as well as the creation of a YouTube channel to document interesting findings along the way. I taught myself to analyze microplastics and classify them into five groups, and then did a series of investigations ranging from beach and surface water clean-ups to household raids to determine the source of some of these plastics. Finally, I developed a series of guidelines to help people decrease the plastic output and thus hopefully decrease the amount of plastic entering our oceans." Click here to visit Baillie's website.
Growing From Tradition
With the COVID-19 shutdown, our class of 2020 fellows faced unique challenges at the end of the school year. They made smart adjustments to their projects and created new ways to share their work with our community. For the first time, our fellows created short videos to highlight their process, findings, and overall experience in the program in addition to their presentations at the assembly. As our students' interests develop and the world around us changes, the adaptability of our fellows is a testament to the continued strength of the program.
The Van Eney ′09 Fellows Program at Severn School is a program based on the pillars of individual passion, scholarship, and inquiry that enables Severn School seniors to transcend the traditional academic program with a year-long intellectual pursuit that reflects their growing interests and passions. The selected fellows are provided an opportunity to pursue their passions for the experience and the intangible rewards of learning for learning’s sake and personal growth.
The program honors Van Eney '09 who died in a tragic accident in June 2011. In his short life, Van made an impression on all those whose paths he crossed. His quiet reserve masked a carefree and fun-loving guy who brought great humor, joy and love to his family and friends. He was a devoted son and brother and a loyal, generous friend, who exhibited kindness and consideration to all. An avid football and lacrosse competitor, his selflessness showed in his concern for his team and teammates’ success over any individual accolades. With these traits in mind, the Severn Fellows Program was named in Van’s memory as a testament to who he was and how he lived his life.