Severn School capital campaign gets $1.2 million boost

November 01, 2001|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SEVERN SCHOOL'S new capital campaign, Giant Strides, has taken a huge step forward with a record-setting contribution from Severna Park businessman Chris McCleary.

McCleary's pledge of $1.2 million, announced during homecoming activities two weeks ago, is the largest donation in the school's 87-year history and brings the total committed by individuals to the school's building fund to $3.1 million.

The donation also could be the impetus for the campaign to reach its goal of raising $7.3 million for such improvements as a new upper school academic building and renovated classrooms, and to strengthen the school's endowment.

"Severn is a great place," says McCleary, chairman of the board of Usinternetworking Inc. "It has small classroom sizes and teachers who get involved with students."

Two of McCleary's three daughters attend Severn School. He's most impressed with what he describes as "the school's mission to create a platform of high character as part of the student development."

A relative newcomer to Maryland, McCleary, 49, moved here from Atlanta in 1991 and began his business eight years later in Annapolis. He describes his company, with headquarters on Riva Road, as one that offers the next generation of Internet computing products to an international clientele.

As a member of Severn's board of trustees and a member of the board of trustees of Anne Arundel Community College, McCleary, a Chicago native, seems ready to put his money, and his time, where his mouth is.

"Education is an issue we all need to spend more time focusing on," says McCleary. "If I were county executive, I would reduce public school classroom size to no more than 18 kids."

The Baltimore architectural firm Cochran, Stephenson & Donkervoet, and builder A.R. Marani are handling the design and construction of Severn's new 37,000-square-foot, three-story academic building. The building will house most of the upper school's academic programs, with six science laboratories, two computer labs, a 110-seat lecture hall, classrooms, faculty work areas and a greenhouse planned. Severn School includes students from grades six through 12.

The building is expected to be completed in time for the beginning of the school year next fall.

Churches aid youths

Two Severna Park churches are sponsoring fund-raisers to help send their young people on service projects next summer.

To earn money to participate in Group Workcamps, a Christian, Habitat for Humanity-style project for high school students, St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church is sponsoring a local version of Antiques Road Show from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at the church on Ritchie Highway.

"Three to four hundred teen-agers converge on a town and spend a week fixing up homes for people who cannot manage to do it for themselves," says spokesman Eric Smookler, describing the Group Workcamps program. About 40 teen-agers from St. John's will be in the program.

The Antique Man, an antique shop in Fells Point, will conduct the appraisals. A maximum of 100 items will be appraised, so each person is limited to two items. The fee is $5 per item.

Information: Stephanie Luzier, St. John's director of youth ministry, 410-647-3346.

Concert benefits young

To help send young people from Severna Park United Methodist Church to the Appalachia Service Project, the youth musical ensemble Maryland Sings will present a concert at 8 p.m. Nov. 10 at the church, on Benfield Boulevard in Severna Park.

Appalachia Service Project is a nonprofit ministry aimed at helping the people of Appalachia. Its primary purpose is to send high school students to the region for a week in the summer to meet families and assist with small home repairs.

Maryland Sings, which performs regularly throughout the state, has appeared at the State House in Annapolis, the annual Flag Day celebration at Fort McHenry and in the East Room of the White House. The Nov. 10 concert will feature songs from the 1950s, Broadway and country music.

All of the teen-agers attend Severna Park United Methodist, and several will go on the Appalachia Service Project mission trip this summer. The evening includes coffee and dessert. Tickets are $10.

Information: Patti McMillan, 410-266-9446.

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