News from the May Dell - October, 2021

From the Head of School

Kris Sorrells campus brick building background

I am so excited about Salem Academy’s future. Our Strategic Plan Committee has been working to formulate the best path forward for the Academy. I presented the results of our hard work at our Salem Academy TODAY event on October 19 (if you missed it, here is a link to the recording). Below are a few brief highlights of our focus for the Academy going forward. I encourage you to watch the Salem Academy TODAY presentation for more details.

There are five strategic areas for the Academy:

  1. College Preparatory (leveraging the ability to attend Salem College classes beginning in 11th grade)
  2. Student Wellness (ensuring all aspects of each student are nurtured)
  3. Leadership Development
    • Igniting Curiosity (9th grade)
    • Increasing Compassion (10th grade)
    • Infusing Creativity (11th grade)
    • Inspiring Courage (12th grade)
  4. Global Perspectives (includes Study Away/Abroad trip summer before senior year)
  5. STEAM (integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math)

The end result is that Salem Academy can proudly say that it is the nation’s only all-girls, boarding and day high school with a STEAM focus located on a college campus. This is something that sets us apart from other private schools in the country, and when combined with our other areas of focus makes Salem Academy a unique school that will be appealing to high-potential young women who are looking for a supportive, challenging, and positive high school environment.

Kris Porazzi Sorrells
Head of School

The Academy’s New Spaces

As you know, the Academy is up and running in person this fall. Boarders have returned and, along with day students, are enjoying life in Babcock Hall and on campus! Here are a few photos of the Academy’s new spaces.

Academy Azaleas - Salem Academy Campus

Babcock Hall


Salem Academy Campus Front Entrance

The front entrance room in Babcock Hall welcomes students each day.


Tagroom - Salem Academy Campus

Nothing says Salem Academy like tags on mailboxes!


Student Lounge - Salem Academy Campus

There’s a great student lounge on the bottom floor.


Senior Lounge - Salem Academy Campus

The senior lounge!


Dorm Room - Salem Academy Campus

A typical dorm room in Babcock Hall.

Journey from Bethlehem to Salem

Journey from Bethlehem to Salem.jpg

The Journey to Salem Will End October 26—Join the Fun!

The 29-day, 500-mile Journey from Bethlehem to Salem is nearing its completion. If you haven’t been following the adventures of the walkers, please check out their delightful daily blog.

The Journey also a terrific history blog, which has some short essays that provide the cultural, political, and geographical context for the 1766 travelers. For an account of the original journey in 1766, read Salome Meurer’s journal.

We hope the blogs inspire you to join us for the final leg of the journey on October 26. There are several ways you take part in this historic adventure that day!

12:15 p.m. Walk the final leg from Bethabara, NC to Salem Square (6.8 miles)
3:30 p.m. Meet the walkers at Corpening Plaza in downtown Winston-Salem and walk the final half mile.
3:50 p.m. Gather at Salem Square to welcome the walkers home!
4 to 6:30 p.m. Enjoy the Homecoming Celebration (music, food trucks, beer, activities) in Salem Square

If you plan to walk from Bethabara, you must register here: online registration. Registered participants must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within the last 72 hours at the check-in table at Bethabara.

Academy 250 journey walkers Marcia Shawler and Debbie STansberry Faires
Marcia Shawler A’75 (left) and Debbie Stansberry Faires A’82 on the Journey.

Academy Alumnae Walking the Full 500-Mile Journey

Two intrepid Academy alumnae, Debbie Stansberry Faires A’82 and Marcia Shawler A’75, are walking the entire 29-day, 500-mile Journey from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Salem.

Marcia Shawler: “The re-tracing of the historic 1766 walk illustrates the deep love we have for Salem Academy and College. I'm so proud and honored to be a part of this. Hike on!”

Debbie Faires: “This Journey is the adventure of a lifetime, and I am thrilled to be able to participate. To me, it is a perfect way to celebrate all that is Salem. I am using the same skills I needed (or developed) to successfully navigate my time at Salem Academy. Attitude is key, as well as staying focused on what is happening in the moment so as not to become overwhelmed with the overall task. We’ve learned that there is an amount of physical discomfort involved in walking 20 miles a day, but the body has an amazing ability to heal itself each night. So, we dig deep and persevere! I’m feeling very connected to the girls who walked this route in 1766.

It is especially exciting to reach landmarks they reached on the same day of the Journey as they did. I know that their physical discomforts were so much worse than ours will ever be, and that keeps this in perspective. Although our days are passing more quickly than I expected, I have also learned that 500 plus miles is a long way to walk. I can’t help but wonder what the girls must have been thinking in 1766. We know what to expect when we arrive, and we are looking forward to that. The women in 1766 didn’t have that advantage. I’m thoroughly enjoying my time with my Salem sisters—both those on the Journey, and those who have come to support us along the way. I believe all Salem women share certain characteristics, even though we are unique individuals. This Journey proves it!”

250 Merchandise Available Online

Visit our new 250 Merchandise Online Store, your exclusive source for Salem Academy and College 250 Celebration items. Just in time for holiday shopping! You’ll find t-shirts (long sleeve and short sleeve), baseball caps, Silipint cups and wine glasses, koozies, car decals and magnets, blankets, tote bags, and lapel pins. Also available is the 250th anniversary reprint of the book Less Time For Meddling, by Frances Griffin. This history of Salem Academy and College is an inspiring read!

NE Salem Square Main Hall with We Are Salem banner

The Road to the 250th

Visitors to the square in Old Salem will see three buildings on the northeast corner at the intersection of Academy and Church streets. The same three buildings have stood on this corner since 1856. Together, Home Moravian Church, The Inspector’s House, and Main Hall represent the enduring legacy of Salem’s Moravian Church and of the Academy and College.

Main Hall stands on the site of the Gemeinhaus, which was the original meeting place for Salem’s congregation. Home Moravian Church is about to celebrate its own 250th anniversary of the consecration of the Gemeinhaus on November 13, 1771. The first baptism performed on that day was of Johann Samuel, an African American man enslaved by the Wachovia Administration of the Moravian Church. His daughter, Anna Maria Samuel, was a member of the older girls’ choir and lived in the Single Sisters house while taking classes in the girls school. His son Christian Samuel worked for the Single Sisters as a free man before the Civil War.

The history of the school and the church are inextricably linked. Traugott Bagge and Jacob Meyer, two fathers from Salem’s congregation, hired Elisabeth Oesterlein to teach their daughters beginning in April 1772. Oesterlein taught students in one room of the Gemeinhaus, which also housed the Single Sisters, the minister, and his family. She was the first in a long line of single and widowed women to teach in this building, which served as the site of classes until 1854 when it was torn down to make room for the expansion of the boarding school.

There are not many places in American cities where one can see such a historical continuity of buildings used for their original purpose. The Inspector’s House has been continuously used for the administrators of Salem since it was built in 1805. Main Hall opened in 1856 to provide more living and teaching space for the boarding school. Home Church was completed in 1800 to serve the growing community of Salem.

These buildings serve as a testament to the contributions of the church and school to the community of Winston-Salem and surrounding towns. Thousands of Academy and College alumnae have continued to serve locally, nationally, and globally. It’s a legacy worth honoring as both Home Moravian Church and the school mark their 250th anniversaries.

Michelle Hopkins Lawrence
Co-chair of The Anna Maria Samuel Project: Race, Remembrance, and Reconciliation at Salem Academy and College
Co-chair of the History Committee for the 250th
History Department Salem Academy

To learn more about the early history of the town and school, the 250th anniversary reprint of Francis Griffin’s Less Time for Meddling: A History of Salem Academy and College, 1772-1866 is available for purchase through the online 250 Merchandise Online Store.

Margaret Sandresky at Winston-Salem Symphony Concert with 2 of her children
Margaret Sandresky A’38 C’42 (center) was joined by two of her children at the concert.

An Evening for Salem: Winston-Salem Symphony Concert

On September 25, The Winston-Salem Symphony performed a delightful one-hour program in Hanes Auditorium as part of the kickoff to the 250th Anniversary. The concert featured “Gaudeamus,” a composition by Margaret Sandresky A’38 C’42, commissioned for the occasion by Salem Academy and College and the Winston-Salem Symphony. Also included is a pre-recorded video “interview” with Mrs. Sandresky by former Winston-Salem Symphony Music Director Tim Redmond, along with highlights of her life. You can watch a recording of the concert on the 250 website.

Salem Seal License Plate

North Carolina Alumnae: Order Your Salem License Plate!

Thanks to a generous supporter of Salem Academy and College, a limited number of North Carolina Salem Academy and College license plates are being offered to alumnae and supporters at no charge. Fill out this form by December 1. Salem will submit the applications to the State of North Carolina, after which the legislature is anticipated to approve our plate, which will then be rolled out (probably in 2022). You will receive your plate in the mail when they are available. Until then, your existing plates are valid. Completed forms should be sent to: Renee Garcia-Prajer, Office of the President, Salem Academy and College, 601 South Church Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.

Meet Sara Vesta

Sara Vesta w cat

Sara Vesta has joined Salem as the Associate Director of Admissions for Alumnae Volunteer Management. A Salem College Class of 2014 alumna, Sara also completed a Master of Theological Studies at Harvard University. She brings her diverse experience from the academic and business worlds into her new role in organizing alumnae Admissions volunteers for both the Academy and the College.

“I look forward to mobilizing both Academy and College alumnae who are able and willing to volunteer some of their time and energy to assist the Admissions Office in our recruitment efforts,” said Sara. “Previous iterations of alumnae volunteer networks through the Admissions Office have been called the Alumnae Admissions Representative (AAR) program or STARS. In the past, volunteers have contacted prospective and accepted students via phone, email, and letter writing campaigns. They have also adopted local high schools, visited with guidance counselors, and attended college fairs on behalf of the Admissions Office.”

“I am excited to revitalize these efforts for alumnae who love talking about their Salem experience and who would enjoy connecting with prospective and accepted students,” she added. “I am particularly eager to offer these non-monetary volunteer opportunities to younger alumnae who feel a deep connection to Salem but may not have the resources to contribute financially.”

Sara’s contact information is:
336-917-5567 and 

Admissions Events This Fall

The Salem Academy Admissions Office is thrilled to welcome prospective students and families to campus for our Fall Open House on Sunday, October 24 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. We will also welcome virtual visitors on Tuesday, November 9 at 6 p.m. Families can register for both events on our website.

At the in-person event, students and families will have the opportunity to tour the Academy facilities and our beautiful campus, sample student life and academic offerings, and learn about the application and scholarship processes. Please help us promote this event as part of our efforts to recruit the next generation of Salem Academy scholars!

Please contact Jessica Rogers ( in the Admissions Office with any questions, or to refer a talented student!

Salem Alumnae at Raleigh Gathering Fall 2021

Catherine Dunn George A’94 and Emily Pittman Funderburk C’00 at the Raleigh Alumnae gathering.

Upcoming Alumnae Events

Connect with fellow alumnae at alumnae events in various locations throughout the Southeast. You can meet President Summer McGee and Salem Academy Head of School Kris Sorrells at the Atlanta, Greenville, and DC Metro Area gatherings. President McGee will also be at the Asheville event.

Reunion Weekend 2022: April 22–23

Mark your calendars! All Salem Academy alumnae are invited to attend a special 250th Anniversary All-Class Reunion Weekend on April 22–23, 2022. Everyone is welcome and we will have special events honoring the classes ending in 2s and 7s, in addition to those classes who missed their Reunions in 2020 and 2021 (the classes ending in 0s, 1s, 5s, and 6s). Stay tuned for more information!

Save the Date for Installation of Dr. Summer McGee as President

Save the Date for President McGee Installation - April 22, 2022

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