From a six-student Naval Academy preparatory school to a two-campus, 800-student preschool through 12th grade institution, much has changed over the last century at Severn School since it first opened its doors in 1914, but what hasn’t shifted are the school’s focus on children and its devotion to excellence in the three words printed on every diploma: character, conduct and scholarship.
After Severn’s 2013 acquisition of nearby Chesapeake Academy, it opened its doors for the first time in August to offer seamless education from preschool through senior year. “There had been conversations about merging, and simply, it was the right time to do it,” Severn Headmaster Doug Lagarde, who has been with the school for nearly a decade, explained of the transition. “It has been smoother and better than anyone could have anticipated; it’s almost as if it’s been one school forever. It’s a fabulous addition to the Severn story.”
That story is one not only of academic excellence – which is preeminent – but also of personal achievement and growth for every student. In addition to a rigorous menu of core subjects, Severn offers an array of challenging AP and honors courses as well as creative and exploratory classes. Classrooms remain at the forefront of technology, as all sixth- through 12th-grade students are issued iPads to heighten student-teacher interaction and allow for greater creativity. Student athletes work to improve both individual skills and teamwork, and count their greatest successes not in wins and losses on the field but in growth as individuals.
Moreover, Lagarde highlighted, every student at Severn grows as a person, with compassion and empathy to give back to not only the Severna Park community, but also the communities in which they will one day live, work and raise families. “We have a very strong mission,” he added. “Severn School challenges its students to pursue excellence in character, conduct and scholarship; to marshal the courage to lead; and to develop the lasting desire to serve and achieve. We believe this is best realized in a community where the adults model these qualities and where each student is known and valued.”
Individualized attention is one of many qualities that distinguish the private institution from others like it. Classes are purposely designed small so that faculty can know specifically what each student’s strengths and weaknesses are and value what each brings to the table. To that end, teachers are selected not just for expertise in their subject area, but also their understanding that they are in the business of growth. “Too often when education is boiled down to grades, test scores and measurable outcomes … you lose the idea that school is also about growing in character and understanding,” Lagarde emphasized.
That character materializes for students at every grade level in service opportunities. Each year, students at Severn participate in food and clothing drives for SPAN and the homeless community, and upper school students lend helping hands at Annapolis area elementary schools. Students are also encouraged to formulate and carry out their own service projects, because as Lagarde explained, if a kid can do it an adult shouldn’t. He noted that in considering the public purpose of a private school, the faculty at Severn ensures students are always focused on the area in which they live and the best ways they can give back to it.
Though it has undergone significant change in the past 100 years, most recently with the addition of a second campus, Severn continues to progress today: They anticipate beginning construction on a replacement building for the Teel Academic Center in June, as nearly every other piece of the campus puzzle has been redone since 1999.
To learn more about Severn School’s legacy of excellence, or the academic, athletic and extracurricular programs it offers, go to www.severnschool.com or call 410-647-7700.