Due to winter weather, Salem Academy will open at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, December 12, 2018. See our Winter Storm Update page for details.

Week of October 26, 2015

From the Head of School

Karl Sjolund

Last spring I was sent an interesting article from a member of our Board of Trustees.  I thought about it again recently, and decided to pass it along to you.  It was in the Washington Post, and it was written by a 12-year-old girl by the name of Madeline Messer.  She was in 6th grade at the time, and here’s what she had to say:

I’m a 12-year-old girl. Why don’t the characters in my apps look like me?

Why do the most popular iPhone games make me pay to play as a woman?

For a 12-year-old girl, playing games on an iPhone is pretty regular behavior. Almost all of my friends have game apps on their phones, and we’ll spend sleepovers playing side by side. One day I noticed that my friend was playing a game as a boy character and asked why she wasn’t a girl. She said you couldn’t be a girl; a boy character was the only option.

After that, I started to pay attention to other apps my friends and I were playing. I saw that a lot of them featured boy characters, and if girl characters did exist, you were actually required to pay for them.

I wondered if this was a larger problem or just a feature of the games my friends and I play, so I started researching. My parents let me download the top 50 “Endless Running Games” apps that were listed in the iTunes Store for iPhones. Endless running games, such as “Jetpack Joyride” and the four versions of “Temple Run,” are extremely popular; they feature a character running, jumping, sliding and generally avoiding deadly obstacles in a game that does not end until the character dies.

I looked at the gender breakdown of the characters in the top 50 apps.  I found that 18 percent had characters whose gender was not identifiable (i.e., potatoes, cats or monkeys). Of the apps that did have gender-identifiable characters, 98 percent offered boy characters. What shocked me was that only 46 percent offered girl characters. Even worse, of these 50 apps, 90 percent offered boy characters for free, while only 15 percent offered girl characters for free. Considering that the players of Temple Run, which has been downloaded more than one billion times, are 60 percent female, this system seems ridiculous.

In one game, “Survival Run with Bear Grylls,” you can put the character in a Santa Claus suit for $1.98, but there is no girl to be had at any price. Does this mean that girls aren’t capable of escaping a bear, but Santa is? And one of the few games to be centered on a woman, “Angry Gran Run,” still offers a large number of boy characters — even when the game is about a grandmother, game-makers still make sure there are boy characters. This made me so annoyed that I did more research.

I found that when an app did sell girl characters, it charged on average $7.53, which is a lot in the world of apps. After all, each of the apps I downloaded only cost an average of $0.26. In other words, girl characters cost about 29 times more than the cost of the apps themselves. Disney’s “Temple Run Oz” charges $29.97 to become the only girl character. Sometimes there are small differences in being a boy or a girl — at one point in one of the Temple games, a boy receives a shield, whereas a girl gets a burst of speed — but nothing to warrant a huge price tag. And some of the girl characters, like the $9.99 “Emotika Diva” offered by the game “Super Running Fred,” are not appealing.

These biases affect young girls like me. The lack of girl characters implies that girls are not equal to boys and they don’t deserve characters that look like them. I am a girl; I prefer being a girl in these games. I do not want to pay to be a girl.

If you’re like me, this is not something that had ever crossed your mind.  In fact, if you’re like me, you’re not really sure what to even think about it.  Is there some sort of sexism going on in the gaming app industry?  Are programmers purposely discriminating against girls and women?  The truth is that I don’t really know.  Perhaps the explanation is fairly simple; the programmers creating these games are men and boys, and they don’t consider the likelihood that the girls playing them would prefer to have female characters.  Maybe it’s not that simple.  Maybe there’s something more nefarious going on.  Either way, I don’t see the point of sitting around wringing our hands…at the Academy we’re doing something about it!  It starts with our Programming class and our Robotics Team.

Our Robotics Team is doing some wonderful work, and I’m happy to report that they’re also getting noticed.  The local Barnes and Noble store has asked them to be a part of their November “Mini Maker Faire”.  Before we know it, our students will be making the leap from programming robots to programming characters that look like Madeline Messer.  We figure, why wait for the current programmers to wise up when we can start training some programmers of our own.  After all, that’s how we do things at the Academy! 

Have a great weekend.


Karl Sjolund
Head of School


  • Congratulations to the students who earned scores on their report cards that landed them on the Headmaster’s List or the Honor Roll for Quarter 1!
  • Driver’s Ed - Students must be North Carolina residents, age 14 years, 6 months on or before Jan. 4 to be eligible to enroll.  If your daughter falls into that category please read this information sheet about the steps you need to take to sign her up.

Hosts Needed for Thanksgiving Break

Volunteers Needed!We need your help! Currently there are 5 students who do not have a place to go for Thanksgiving. If you would be willing to host one or several of them for the holiday, please let Miss Thompson know as soon as possible. If you have questions, please call Miss Thompson and she will be glad to tell you all about it. Thank you so much for considering doing this for some of our students who are from so far away from home.

Thanksgiving Break Information

Dear Parents,

We have a vacation period coming up, and it is important that we have information about your daughter’s travel plans.  Please complete this Thanksgiving travel form and return it to me as soon as possible.

The Thanksgiving vacation begins at 3:38 p.m. (after ninth period) on Friday, November 20.  Boarders should return to the Academy by 9:00 p.m. on Monday, November 30.

Because of the travel congestion on the Thanksgiving weekend, we have extended our holiday through Monday, November 30.  We hope that the delayed return will facilitate you in making travel arrangements.  Please make public transportation arrangements so that your daughter will arrive by 9:00 p.m. on Monday.  The Thanksgiving holiday is scheduled as a long break, so please do not ask for students to be excused from classes on Friday, November 20 or Tuesday, December 1.  Absences before and after a vacation period are unexcused.

The Academy will be completely closed during this vacation period.  Students should leave by noon on Saturday November 21 and return after 11:00 a.m. on November 30.  Students may not return on Sunday, November 29.

Thank you very much and we wish you all a pleasant Thanksgiving.


Mary Lorick Thompson
Assistant Head/Dean of Students

Student Activities

October 31: Christ School Victory Game and Dance - Asheville

  • 10:00 am - 1:00 am
  • Salem students will have the opportunity to watch a football game and participate in a dance hosted by Christ School.  Students will also have the opportunity to visit downtown Asheville.
  • Students will be leaving from Salem at 10:00 am. We will be eating dinner in Asheville, so students are encouraged to bring money.
  • Please Note: If your day student is staying overnight at Salem, please contact the school to make arrangements for your daughter.

November 8: Tanger Outlet Shopping

  • 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Girls will visit Mebane, NC to explore the shopping outlets of Tanger Outlet.
  • The students will have a chance to eat out at the many restaurants at the shopping center.

November 13 - 15

  • Fall Drama Play - Murder for the Bride

Spirit Performs at Brenner Children's Hospital

Brenner Children's Hospital Group pictureOur Academy Spirit ensemble performed at Brenner Children’s Hospital on Wednesday. They did a wonderful job performing a Disney Princess medley for all the people at the hospital and were very warmly received! In fact, they begged for the girls to return for Christmas and in the spring! They were a big hit!

News from the World Languages Department

Students in Honors Spanish III enthusiastically proposed a group project for a thematic unit on the influence of media on society. It was an ambitious idea, and one Sra. Bencini was a bit apprehensive to endorse, given a rather bizarre Halloween skit they performed last year for Salem Day!  They convinced her that it would be fantástico, and it was that and mucho más! They went beyond Sra. Bencini’s high expectations, that’s for sure! There were reports from a foreign correspondent in Israel, a national reporter on the presidential campaigns, an interview about fall fashion, a sportscaster, and a meteorologist. The news anchors kept everything running smoothly.  You are invited to enjoy their newscast, even if you don’t speak Spanish! It demonstrates the smart, creative, talented, dedicated and hard-working students that make Salem such a special place to teach and learn!  To watch the video, click here!

Advisee Group Fun

During advisee lunch today, Ms. Ratley’s and Ms. Orr’s groups enjoyed pizza and an intense game of Guesstures! Ms. Ratley’s advisees kept their lead and won the battle; however Ms. Orr’s advisees already called for a rematch to be held this spring! Game on!!

Ratley versus Orr advisee group game

There was also a lot of pumpkin painting happening at school this week!  Below are photos from Ms. Overton’s group (left) and Mrs. Jonczak’s group (right), both of whom painted pumpkins as their activity on Tuesday.

Overton advisee group pumpkin painting     Jonczak advisee group pumpkin painting

Come See Murder for the Bride

Donations and Volunteers Needed for Fall Play

Dear Parents and Students,

The Theatre Department is underway and we are preparing to open our fall play.  Over the past several years we have sold refreshments during intermission for the performances. The money goes towards the Theatre Banquet at the end of the year.  We are in need of things to sell.  If you are willing, we are looking for small bottles of water, and snack foods like Little Debbie cakes or homemade cookies and brownies or little bags of chips.  The cookies and brownies will need to be individually wrapped.  Donations can be sent to school with your daughter, or they can be brought to the theatre on performance nights.

Also, we will be having a cast/crew party right after strike after the last Sunday performance.  If anyone wants to donate food and drink for the students it would be greatly appreciated.  They will probably miss dinner so this will be something they will attack with great hunger.  We have about 45 students involved with the show

All the students who are signed up for any crew are required to be at strike which begins at 4:00 on Sunday, November 15th.  Any parents or relatives can come and help as well.  We always need extra hands and especially extra drills.

I have enjoyed working with all of your daughters on this show and I am looking forward to working with them again in future productions.  Please call or email me if you have any questions at kerry.lawson@salem.edu or 336-917-5508.

Thank you,

Kerry Lawson

Physics Students Learn About Velocity

Physics students have been learning about constant velocity. They used battery-powered “buggies” to collect data about their movement along a marked track, graphed the data and derived equations and diagrams to describe the cars’ motion.

physics class learning about velocity     physics class learning about velocity

Athletics Update

Winter Sports

Basketball - tryouts start Monday, November 2 at 4:00pm and Tuesday, November 3

Swimming –Monday 4:00pm

Fencing- Tuesday and Thursday 4:00-5:30pm

Cross Country

The Sabers ran well at the state cross country meet at McAlpine Park in Charlotte.  Results will be out by Monday, November 2.

Canned Food Drive a Success

Student council delivers cans from can driveLast Friday, Student Council delivered the canned food to Sunnyside Ministries, the culmination of their fall project.  Thanks to everyone who helped by donating canned goods, allowing Student Council to surpass their goal of 400 cans!


School-Wide Program on Mindset

On Friday, Oct. 23rd while the faculty enjoyed the NCAIS teacher’s conference, students participated in a workshop with Bright Dickson from The BB&T Leadership Institute.  Ms. Dickson talked with the girls about the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.  The girls also took the VIA Character Strengths survey.  Ms. Dickson led the students through a discussion about their personal character strengths and then they looked at the character of the student body as a whole.  The students were not surprised that love was a very prevalent characteristic in our student body! 

mindset presentation     Via Survey Results - Love


DADs Group

Dad group logoTo all fathers/male guardians of Salem students:

Salem Academy dads are invited to join an ongoing informal discussion about issues impacting our daughters.  Approximately every month a group of Academy dads will get together to compare notes and discuss the varying issues that come about when raising teenage daughters.  It’s always an informal conversation, and all fathers of Salem Academy students are welcome to attend!  For fathers who are unable to participate, notes from these conversations will be made available. The DADs point-of-contact is Paul Allen, the Academy Physics and Environmental Science teacher and father of a senior this year: paul.allen@salem.edu.

The next DADs meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 9, in the Dining Room, 7:15 - 8:30am. Our guest that morning is to be Ms. Jenny Orr, the Academy’s mental health counselor, who will talk with us about some of the “life issues” our daughters face as adolescents.


Salem Smiles

Amazon Smile BannerIt is that time of year to purchase school supplies, dorm essentials and more. Now you can raise money for Salem Academy just by shopping at AmazonSmile! AmazonSmile is the exact same as the Amazon we all know, except you support the Academy while you shop. For every eligible purchase, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase total to the Academy. It is as simple as that! Get started by going to Amazon Smile and selecting Salem Academy today!  

Visit AmazonSmile and Support Salem Academy

Here is what you need to do:

  • Visit smile.amazon.com and log in to your Amazon account.
  • The first time you visit, you will be prompted to select a charitable cause. Search for and choose Salem Academy and College.
  •  Make your purchase and AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of your purchase to Salem!

Remember, always start at smile.amazon.com. AmazonSmile will save Salem as your cause to support for all your future purchases.

If you have any questions, please visit smile.amazon.com or email Shelley Hindmon A’07, Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations, at shelley.hindmon@salem.edu.

Thank you for your support of Salem Academy and College!

Link Your Harris Teeter VIC Card and Support Salem

Harris Teeter - Your Neighborhood Food MarketBeginning August 1, Salem Academy proudly continued in Harris Teeter’s Together In Education program to help raise funds for our school.  It’s easy and it’s FREE. Simply give the cashier our code, 5509, and your VIC card when you check out and your card will be linked for the entire school year. That’s it! You only have to link your VIC card once each school year. Once your card is linked, Salem Academy will receive a percentage of your Harris Teeter brand (Harris Teeter, Premier Selection, H.T. Traders, Harris Teeter Naturals, Your Pet, Hunter Farms, Highland Crest and More Value) purchases credited back to our account. This program does not interfere with your VIC savings or cost you any money!

Together in Education - Harris TeeterFor those of you who participated last year, don’t forget to re-link your VIC card to our account code next time you are shopping at Harris Teeter! 


500 East Salem Ave | Winston-Salem, NC 27101 | 1-877-40SALEM