Severna Park High School Principal Moving To Magothy River Middle

Lindsay Abruzzo Reflects On Time At The School


For 13 years, Severna Park High School has been a second home to Lindsay Abruzzo. She spent 12 years as an assistant principal at the school before becoming the principal in January 2023. Only 17 months later, she will transition to the same role at Magothy River Middle School this June.

Abruzzo was informed of the decision during an Anne Arundel County Board of Education meeting in May. The move is one of nearly 30 reassignments or promotions for administrators across Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS), a staggering number that the school system declined to explain.

A Severna Park High School successor has not been chosen yet.

The news was bittersweet for Abruzzo. She loves Severna Park but has two kids, an eighth-grader and a sixth-grader, at Magothy River.

“Every year about this time, we know that we can be moved,” Abruzzo said. “It can be for a number of reasons: they know they need someone who is really good at scheduling and so they move a scheduler. They need someone who is really good at (professional development, or PD) and so they move someone who is in charge of PD, or maybe they saw something in me that they need an increase (of) in middle school.

“So, it will hit me when I pack the boxes,” she said. “This has been my home for a long time.”

Abruzzo will return to the Broadneck feeder system where she started her career as a math teacher in 2004, but she will miss the students at Severna Park High School.

“I would say it’s every year, the kids just get better and better,” she said. “I told my seniors at graduation rehearsal the other day, it was probably their best prom we’ve ever had. They were well behaved, they were respectful. These kids are just amazing.”

Being the principal at a school with high academic, athletic and extracurricular standards was never easy, but it was a challenge Abruzzo embraced. She welcomed transparent conversations with students, encouraging them to find balance by focusing on their interests, whether that was math and science, English and social studies, sports or “Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival.”

“I feel like Severna Park, yes, it is super high-achieving, and yes, there is stress from the community and parents and the kids put a lot of pressure on themselves,” Abruzzo said. “But — I haven’t been at a ton of schools — but I haven’t been at a school that has 80-plus clubs where every single kid has a space to be who they want to be.”

Staci Cassarino worked alongside Abruzzo as an assistant principal for much of Abruzzo’s time at the school. Cassarino explained that Abruzzo is a visible figure and often the first person the kids see each morning when arriving at the school.

“She is very open to empowering students,” Cassarino said. “She is not an automatic no, so if the kids come to her with some crazy idea because they want to raise money for the Epilepsy Foundation or they want to raise money to get to nationals for SkillsUSA, she is not a ‘no’ principal. She’s a ‘alright, let’s talk about it and see what we can do.’ She really, really empowers the student leaders in the building and she has a big focus on kindness and positivity and that has, in the last year and a half, really spread.”

Rising senior Tori Wright shared a similar sentiment.

“She allowed students to become more comfortable by loosening the dress code, she respects the students, has great school spirit, is very aware of what is going on in the community, and really cares about the students, their success and their wellbeing,” Tori said. “She was also very open to trying new things and made sure to listen to the students and faculty.”

Inclusivity and kindness became an even greater emphasis for the staff following a January 2023 incident in which a Severna Park High School student was filmed while bullying a student with special needs. The disturbing exchange was shared by outlets in Maryland and nationwide. Abruzzo had just started as principal and had just been recognized as the AACPS Educator of the Month for December.

The incident prompted many people across the world to take jabs at Severna Park High School, both online and by calling the school. Abruzzo called it a “rock-bottom moment.” She responded by inviting youth motivational speaker David Flood to the school to talk to kids and by holding assemblies.

“I did grade-level assemblies where I said, ‘This is very elementary, but look to your left, look to your right and say something nice to the people around you,’” Abruzzo said. “‘Like how hard was that?

“It probably is harder to dream up something mean than to just say something nice that probably came like that,’” she said with a snap of her fingers. “And so, I think just showing them that outside of these four walls, the perception, based on that video, was really negative and that’s not who we want to be. We don’t want to be that video that (provoked) people to call me from Australia. We want to be the state champion lacrosse team. We want to be the sci-fi club that has fun at soirees. We want to be the people who are kind when they don’t have to be.”

Abruzzo’s affinity for Vans footwear sparked another idea: a schoolwide Vans shoe design contest to promote anti-bullying and kindness. Teens at the school voted for their favorites and the result was a two-way tie between Nadia Abdolahi and Jameson Murray.

That initiative is one of the first additions Abruzzo plans to bring to Magothy River Middle School.

“I have to order my custom marlin Vans and get ready,” she said, referring to the school mascot.

Abruzzo has never worked at a middle school. The curriculum will be new, but she has an idea of what she hopes to accomplish.

“I think really teaching the kids there that these are your bridge years,” she said. “These are the years that you get to be not like elementary and you don’t have to really worry about college credits yet, but the rigor and the responsibility is big, like you’re a big mind in a little tiny body still. So I think just showing them that my experience of what they’re going to need for high school, I feel like my Magothy River kids will be super prepared for what Broadneck wants them to be, and I’m excited to vertical-team with their admin and their departments at Broadneck because a lot of my people are still there.”

With the last day of school for students approaching on June 11, Abruzzo had a few thoughts to share with Severna Park residents.

“Even though I’m gone, this will always be my community,” she said. “This community, as much as I feel like I shaped them, they shaped me. I’ve learned so much from this community in 13 years, and so I feel like while they have given me all the thank you’s, I want to thank this community for loving me as long as they have.”


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