Severn School Reflects on Legacy of Distinguished Alumnus Leroy Sparks ‘71
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.
When Leroy entered ninth grade at Severn in the fall of 1967, there were no students who looked like him. His enrollment occurred amidst the backdrop of the Civil Rights Act of 1966, and Anne Arundel County’s much belated school board vote to officially integrate the full county school system--long after the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Twenty years after his graduation, Leroy recalled being new to Severn: "It was kind of funny," he recalled. "When I first showed up I didn't know anybody, but everybody knew me, and everybody came up to me and said 'How are you doing, Leroy?' or 'Do you need any help finding your classes?' They were very helpful."
While at Severn, Roy was an honors student, was active in pep club and yearbook, and served as Class President. An exceptional athlete in football, basketball, and lacrosse, Roy was inducted into Severn’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000. Regarded warmly by faculty and students alike, Sparks, who passed away in 2014, is remembered for his humor, wit, and his empathy for those in need. His wife Georgeline says Roy fondly recalled his days at Severn.
"Severn is where he learned to excel in the classroom. He loved to write. poetry especially, due to Severn. I believe Roy would have said that Severn students, faculty and staff can be the change agents our communities need. He taught me that each of us has innate gifts to share, and to use them to see the good in ourselves and others.” — Georgeline Sparks
Following graduation from Severn, Sparks earned a bachelor of science in clinical psychology from Morgan State University, and a master of arts in counseling psychology from Bowie State University. He established his own practice as a therapist in Randallstown, Maryland, where he and his wife Georgeline raised their two daughters.
In Remembrance, With Gratitude
As we reflect on the legacy of Leroy Sparks, and his indelible impact upon the evolution of Severn School, we honor this milestone in our ever-evolving progress toward becoming more diverse and inclusive. A school community that welcomes an array of people and perspectives fosters real belonging and enriches the learning experience for every student. We are grateful to Leroy Sparks ‘71 for his courage in making that first step with Severn over 50 years ago.