News from the May Dell - April, 2021

Kris Sorrells campus brick building backgroundFrom the Head of School

Dear Friends,

On Tuesday, April 13 at 4 p.m., the Academy hosted an admissions open house event. Numerous families came to hear current students, faculty, parents, and two of our alumnae (Charlotte Dorn A’18 and Lucy Price A’20). Current students answered questions about life as a day student or boarder, favorite traditions, high school expectations, relationships with friends and faculty, even what it is “really” like to be at an all-girls school. Parents shared how their daughters were welcomed to the Salem family, supported through challenges, and the strength their daughters have because of the Academy.

While these discussions occurred, I watched the expressions on Charlotte’s and Lucy’s faces. Their recollection of their own Academy experiences was evident in their smiles and laughter. The fact that they were not in the same graduating class and that they didn’t overlap on campus with current students was not evident, and it obviously did not matter. Lucy and Charlotte clearly cared about the current students because of their shared experiences as Academy sisters.

As we approach Reunion, I look forward to reconnecting with our Academy alumnae from all class years. I want to hear stories shared about their time at the Academy. This includes their challenges and successes. I hope to see more friendships begin between graduates from different class years. I hope we finish Reunion activities with a renewed sense of passion for the Academy and thankfulness for our time together.

Kris Porazzi Sorrells
Head of School

Susan Henking headshot with green background - courtesy Salem Academy and College

President’s Corner

It is the time in academia that we turn our attention to end-of-year activities—Academy Graduation (Saturday, May 29), College Commencement (Saturday, May 8), and other events associated with both entities. It is hard to imagine these in-person events are coming so soon.

As importantly, our Founders Day celebration (Friday, April 23) allows us to celebrate the ways our history and mission are one. We will hear from an alumna with deep roots in our history—Elizabeth D. Baird C’83, whose words of wisdom and reflection will, I know, honor our past and ignite our future. We hope you will join us, together with the Academy and College, as we do so.

As we celebrate, we honor, as well, your gifts to the Academy Fund, the many ways all of you support our students, and the work of so many behind the scenes making Salem what it is and building toward tomorrow and our next 250 years. Please join us in posting on social media, reaching out to potential students, opening doors to new friends whether corporate or personal, and continuing to move us forward.

Both the Academy and College are committed to creating and sustaining leaders. You show us how. And you connect us to our future.

Susan Henking
Interim President

Reunion 2021

Reunion 2021 will look a little different than previous years due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Office of Alumnae Engagement has put together a month-long slate of virtual events to help you get your Salem fix! Open to all classes, with special recognition of the classes ending in 0s, 1s, 5s, and 6s, join your friends in live sessions or watch later at your convenience. You will find a recap of one event that has already occurred (Wine and Design with John Hutton further down in this newsletter) and will find information on upcoming events below.

Reunion Giving

Calling all classes ending in 1s and 6s! Every year, Reunion gifts are critical to Salem meeting our Academy Fund goal. We will announce our 2021 totals to date at the Alumnae Association event on Thursday, April 22. The Reunion giving deadline has been extended to June 30. Give today at, by phone at 336-721-2607, or mail a check to Salem Academy, Office of Institutional Advancement, 601 South Church Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101. Thank you for supporting Salem!

Shelley Hindmon A’07 Alumnae Board, Academy Fund Chair, encourages you to make a Reunion Pledge:

  1. It’s easy! Make a pledge now and pay in installments on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis until your next reunion. Consider a monthly bank draft or credit card payment to make it even easier! It’s like your Netflix subscription for a good cause and with a much greater impact!
  2. Life gets busy. With a pledge, you have one less thing to remember! You can set up payments that are charged automatically to your credit card or the Office of Institutional Advancement can send you a reminder when your next gift is due.
  3. Give more with less! The total amount you pledge during the next five years will count toward your class’s reunion giving total. That’s five times more than if you only gave this year without the multi-year pledge.
  4. The Academy can count on me! Multi-year pledges give the Academy a strong foundation to build on, with expected income on the books. Just like any financially secure business, it’s important to have a good cash flow!
  5. It’s more environmentally and financially conscientious. It also costs less than sending you multiple mailed solicitation letters every year, that means more funds available for the mission—that is educating these amazing young women! Save a stamp, educate a girl!
  6. You can always give more! I have a pledge from my last reunion, but as special initiatives arise like supporting the Purple team during the Purple and Gold Giving Day Challenge, I can give again!

Upcoming Reunion Events!

Alumnae Panel (Tuesday, April 20 at 4:30 p.m.)

Interested in thinking “outside the box” and building a career that is deeply authentic to you as an individual? If so, join the Office of Alumnae Engagement and The Center for Global Leadership as we engage Academy and College alumnae who are doing just that! From costume design at Cirque du Soleil to naturalism in Alaska, come hear our incredible alumnae share stories about what makes their lives and their careers so personal and meaningful!

This panel is open to current Academy and College students, as well as Academy and College alumnae. Join the Alumnae Panel via Zoom. Questions? Contact

Academy Alumnae Association Meeting (Thursday, April 22 at 6:30 p.m.)

Join live to celebrate Salem Academy! Hear remarks and greetings from special guests, recognize the work of the Academy Alumnae Association, celebrate the achievements of the Academy Alumnae award winners, and learn about class giving totals. Can’t join that evening? A recording will be available on our website at a later date.

Founders Day Convocation (Friday, April 23 at 4:30 p.m.)

Save the date for our virtual Founders Day program. Visit our Founders Day page to watch the video on April 23.

Wine and Design with John Hutton

Wine and Design with John Hutton

On Thursday, April 8, alumnae from Salem Academy and College (with drinks in hand) learned how to draw the May Dell from the comfort of their own home! With a lesson on the history of the May Dell, in addition to offering tips and tricks of drawing landscapes and buildings, Dr. John Hutton led participants through drawing the May Dell, a location near and dear to the Salem community.

Salem Academy and College Presidential Search Update

Liz Baird, C’83, Chair of the Presidential Search Committee, reported that the Presidential Search Committee recently met and continued its efforts to identify candidates whose backgrounds and experiences seem especially well matched with the qualities and qualifications established for the search. At this gathering, the search committee considered a robust and diverse pool of applicants and chose to advance a select group of outstanding candidates for confidential preliminary interviews.

The search consulting team and Baird indicated early in the process that the need for confidentiality might be a top priority for leading candidates in the search. Indeed, that remains the case. The candidates hold significant positions where they are currently. Salem wants to honor their wishes to continue to explore this exceptional opportunity at Salem with the assurances that their engagement in the search will not become widely known at their home institutions.

While many institutions choose to conduct their entire presidential search as a closed process, others, like Salem, want to ensure appropriate opportunities for constituent groups to engage confidentially with the candidates and provide feedback to the Presidential Search Committee. Members of the search committee are thoughtfully identifying these opportunities for members of the Academy and College community, beyond the search committee, to be engaged in the final stage of candidate evaluation slated for next month. Additional student, faculty, staff, and other representatives of the Salem community will meet with the finalists and help to shape the consideration of them, while still meeting the privacy wishes of this distinguished group. Moreover, these community members will aid the search committee in championing all that is good and great about Salem Academy and College to the candidates.

The Search Committee will continue to provide regular updates to Salem Academy and College alumnae and the campus community.  Visit Salem Academy and College Presidential Search for updates.

Road to Salem 250

The Road to the 250th: Founders Day

Depending on when you graduated, this day evokes different memories of Salem. For the past forty years, the celebrations have been marked by the image of Academy seniors in white cap and gown and College seniors in black cap and gown processing into the May Dell. Salem’s community gathers annually to celebrate the origins of Salem Academy and College in 1772, but who were the founders and how has the celebration changed over the decades?

The spring Founders Day celebration that we know today began in 1980. The use of April 30 as a founding date is based on Moravian Church records, which note that the first schoolgirls were taught in a room of Salem’s Gemeinhaus in April 1772. Unfortunately, the record does not include the specific date when the first class was held. In the 20th century, the decision was made to use the last day of the month when the rents were calculated as the founding date. For a short period of time in the 20th century, the Founders Day celebration was moved to February to commemorate the date in 1866 when Salem Female Academy was incorporated by the legislature of North Carolina.

For many years, however, Founders Day celebrations were held in October. The fall date was chosen to honor the decision on October 31, 1802 to “call” the first inspector to create a boarding school open to the daughters of Moravians and non-Moravians. The call process, still used today to appoint ministers of Moravian congregations, was used because the first 12 leaders of the school were ministers. As Margaret Blair McCuiston, College Class of 1914, described it:

“I have vivid recollections of the Founders Day Observances from 1907 to 1913. We had a holiday from classes. The Boarding pupils were taken on an outing. Sometimes the day pupils (of which I was one) joined them. The observance was (then) always in October but sometimes the exact day was changed.”

By the mid-20th century, the annual fall celebration of Founders Day was, in the words of one College alumna from the class of 1980, “the big fun” day with class themes, songs, skits, and costumes. In the academic year 1979-1980, the name of this event was changed to Fall Fest, a very popular College tradition still practiced today, and the Founders Day celebration was moved to April.

According to the program for the first spring Founders Day celebration in 1980, then as today, all Academy and College students gathered for the senior procession, which was followed by the Founders Day Address delivered by Dr. Dale H. Gramley, who had retired just nine years earlier. Dr. Gramley was Salem’s 13th president and the first who was not an ordained minister.

Regarding the question of who is celebrated on Founders Day, there is no one answer. Elisabeth Oesterlein was the first teacher, but she did not start the school on her own. In 1922, Adelaide Fries, 1890 graduate of Salem College and renowned Moravian archivist, argued that the founders were the fathers who hired Oesterlein to educate their daughters. Others look to the Moravian congregation of Salem, which is celebrating its own 250th anniversary this fall, and to the Single Sisters, who taught generations of Salem students and provided financial support to the school. Certainly, the existence of Salem Academy and College would not have been possible if not for the unusual Moravian practice of educating girls, as well as boys. So the answer is, Salem, like many lasting institutions, was founded by a community of dedicated people working together toward a common goal.

Michelle Hopkins Lawrence
Co-chair of The Anna Maria Samuel Project: Race, Remembrance, and Reconciliation at Salem Academy and College
History Department Salem Academy

Academy Admissions—It is Not Too Late to Apply for Fall 2021!

Do you know any young women who might be interested in Salem Academy? Help us find applicants! We are still enrolling for fall 2021. You can refer students and/or families through our Admissions Referral Form.

Or, if you would like to be an Academy Alumnae Ambassador, please use this form.

In today’s competitive and unique (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) environment, we would love your help finding future students!

In particular, we want to draw your attention to two events. Please share them with prospective students and/or their families. If you would like to participate in the Open House on May 19, we’d love to have some alumnae help in telling Salem's story to prospective students. Please contact Jessica Rogers at if you are interested.

  • The Girls’ School Advantage: Boarding Schools, Tuesday, April 27 at Noon

    Hosted by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools. The Girls’ School Advantage is a unique opportunity to hear from a dozen of the nation’s premier Boarding Schools for Girls—including Salem Academy. Hear from a student panel, which will include current Salem Academy boarding student Michaela M. A'21. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet with Salem Academy representatives. Learn about the power of an all-girls school and how Salem Academy’s academic programs will help you excel in college and life. Those interested in this event should register at​​​​​
  • Open House, May 19

    Attendees will learn about the power of an all-girls school and how our academic programs will help them excel in college and life. They’ll find out about the enriching experiences outside the classroom that will prepare them to launch a life of purpose and meaning. They’ll hear from teachers and alumnae, meet with current students, and learn all about our admissions process.​​​

Salem 250 logo

250 Celebration: “Past, Present, and Future” Art Exhibition

As part of Salem’s 250th Celebration, we are presenting an exhibition, entitled “Past, Present, and Future,” in the spring of 2022 to celebrate 250 years of the arts at Salem Academy and College.

We are looking for Salem alumnae artists who might like to participate. If you are an artist, or know of a fellow Salem alumna who is an artist who would be interested in being part of this once-in-your-lifetime exhibit, please contact Beth Murray C’92, or Spence Brooks O’Neill A’97,

We are also working with the Academy and College art faculty to create a curated portion of the exhibit, which will feature historic pieces (past) and current student work (future).

“Past, Present, and Future” will be displayed in the Elberson Fine Arts building, and an opening will take place in April 2022, during or immediately before Reunion Weekend. We hope to offer online sales of the artwork to benefit Salem Academy and College.

Alumnae Newsletter Archives

Latest News

Cherokee Commemoration

Thursday, November 17, 2022
On October 22, more than 30 descendants of Cherokee Moravian students, who attended Salem in the 19th century, came to campus for a celebration to commemorate their ancestors.

Today We Honor Those Who Served

Friday, November 11, 2022
To our Salem community members and loved ones who have selflessly served in our armed forces, we thank you and appreciate your sacrifice.

Junéja, Peck, Juran, Moulton and Zifchak Join Salem Academy and College

Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Ranked No. 7 Private High School in North Carolina...