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Salem Academy


Salem Academy

Salem Academy
Reach Within, Shape The Future
500 Salem Avenue
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Type Girls Boarding School
Established 1772
Headmaster Karl J. Sjolund
Faculty 45
Grades 9-12
Enrollment about 200
Team name Sabers
Information 336-721-2643

Salem Academy is a boarding and day school for high school girls in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It is formally known as Salem Academy and College where it shares its campus with Salem College, located near historic Old Salem. Salem Academy is one of the oldest and most prestigious girls' boarding schools in the United States.


  • History 1
  • Affiliation 2
  • Admissions 3
  • Academics 4
    • Requirements 4.1
    • Advising 4.2
    • Jan Term 4.3
  • Athletics 5
    • Teams 5.1
    • Athletic Events 5.2
  • Traditions 6
    • Opening Chapel 6.1
    • Smoosh Cake Banquet 6.2
    • Athletic Picnic 6.3
    • Ring Banquet 6.4
    • Senior Day 6.5
    • Senior Vespers 6.6
  • Notable alumni 7


Salem was founded in 1772 by early Moravian settlers who held the view that girls deserved an education comparable to that afforded boys. Among the town's early residents were 16 girls and women who walked more than 500 miles from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to join the new community. One of them was 17-year-old Elisabeth Oesterlein, who would be the first teacher of what is now Salem Academy and College. There were very few girls' schools at the time, particularly in the South; word spread about the girls' school, and the school accepted boarding students in 1802. The school grew considerably throughout the 19th century both in size and course offerings, with college-level courses being offered in the 1860s. As the college-level curriculum expanded, the school officially became known as Salem Academy and College in 1907. Despite such travails as the American Civil War and a measles epidemic in the 1800s, the Academy has never closed its doors in the more than two centuries since those first classes were held.


Originally founded by the Moravian Church, Salem Academy is now an independent institution that retains some of the traditions of the church. Salem's mission is shaped by the Moravian beliefs that have stressed the importance of education and learning as central to their mission for centuries. Other Moravian traditions still practiced at the school include the senior vespers held at the end of every fall term, which includes a Moravian Lovefeast.

Salem Academy is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools and is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


All applicants are required to send middle school transcripts and teacher recommendations, and must take the Secondary School Admission Test. Applicants are also required to undergo an interview before receiving admission. Salem accepts students from all over the United States as well as around the world.


Salem Academy offers a college preparatory curriculum, and 100 per cent of Salem Academy students traditionally continue their education in college and are accepted at many of the top colleges and universities in the United States and around the world.


Salem requires 20 academic credits required for graduation, including four in English, two in a modern foreign language, four in mathematics, three in history, and three in science, plus requirements in art, music, theatrics, religion, and health and physical education.


The student-faculty relationship is central to the academic experience at Salem. Small class size, averaging 13-14 students per class, and low student teacher ratio (9:1) allows Salem's superb faculty to know all their students due to the intimate learning environment. Salem's small classes characterized by lively discussions and debates; each girl has the opportunity to be known and a chance to be heard. This relationship with the faculty is supported by Salem's advising program. Each student is assigned a faculty advisor to assist the student in the selection of her courses, serve as a liaison between the student and her teachers, consult with parents about academic and related problems, and review and discuss all grades. While an advisor has many duties, foremost is that of being the student's friend—the adult who talks with her, helps her, and is her advocate.

Jan Term

Jan Term is a three-week mini-term that gives students opportunities to pursue internships, enroll in special classes, and travel both in the United States and abroad. The school schedules trips each year that are organized and led by faculty members from different departments. For the first two years most students spend January Term on campus in focused classes or programs that allow each student to further explore her interests. Juniors and Seniors pursue internships outside of Salem where they can gain first hand knowledge of topics and careers of interest.



Salem Academy has 13 athletic teams. The school's sports mascot is the sabre, and the school colors are purple and gold. During the fall season the teams are varsity field hockey, junior-varsity field hockey, varsity volleyball, varsity tennis, junior-varsity tennis, and varsity cross country. In the winter season there are varsity swimming, varsity basketball, junior-varsity basketball teams and a varsity fencing team. In the spring there are varsity softball, varsity soccer, junior-varsity soccer, and varsity track teams. There is also an equestrian and golf extracurricular team.

Athletic Events

The Turkey Trot is held the week before Thanksgiving. It is a 1-mile walk/run event that all members of the Salem community are invited to participate in.

In February, the Athletic Council holds a bonfire where students gather around a large fire on the athletic fields to roast hotdogs, make smores, and drink hot chocolate.


Opening Chapel

Each fall the school year officially begins at Opening Chapel. The ceremony involves faculty and staff sharing personal messages and the Dean of Students reading letters from alumnae with well wishes and advice for current students. Alumnae from classes as far back as 1930 attend and are recognized by the current students.

Smoosh Cake Banquet

Smoosh Cake Banquet is a tradition for Salem Academy. Seniors are each given a cupcake. Inside each cupcake are small gems that 'foretell' that students future.

Athletic Picnic

The school colors are purple and gold and the entire school is divided into two school spirit teams—the purple team and the gold team. Each year the new students learn which team they will be on at the Athletic Picnic, held in the fall. The athletic picnic includes games and displays of school spirit on the front lawn.

Ring Banquet

Ring banquet is held in the fall. Freshman host an evening with a secret theme that only they know. This is when seniors run down an aisle to receive their class rings. The presidents of both the Freshman and Senior classes, along with a previously elected Freshman prepare speeches and speak to the crowd.

Senior Day

Senior Day is held the day after the Ring Banquet. In the morning, the seniors are entertained by the faculty and staff at a special breakfast. During the day the seniors, divided in groups, teach brief seminars to the younger students on the topic of their choice, ranging from origami to cupcake decorating to the philosophy of "The Office." The morning is concluded by the seniors acting out skits and singing the senior song to the other students, faculty, and staff during an outdoor luncheon. Starting with the Class of 2008, if the seniors wish to mention a teacher in the skit, they must ask for the approval of the mentioned teacher, due to past incidents of faculty members feeling insulted by the content of the skits. Senior skits portray what their four years were like, highlight ongoing inside class jokes, and remember the most absurd events their class experienced together.

Senior Vespers

Senior Vespers is a cherished Christmas event that marks the close of the fall semester. The seniors lead a Moravian Lovefeast, which is a candlelight choral service in which students sing Christmas carols and seniors serve coffee and buns in the Moravian tradition. Seniors wear white dresses and are not allowed to speak for the duration of the ceremony

Notable alumni

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