By Hannah Callaway
alem Academy prepares confident students, in and out of the classroom. From exceptional academic achievement to athletic performance, advancing women in robotics to encouraging student leaders for Key Club International and the National Honor Society, these young women are driven, fueled by the diversity of the Academy’s 172 students.
In the fall of 2014, Salem Academy became the first educational institution in the nation to establish a chapter of the Red Boot Coalition—an organization that seeks to create an open, judgment-free space in which to encourage dialogue about impactful issues, such as politics, religion, economics and ethnicity. A presentation by Red Boot founder Molly Barker was required attendance for the student body, and many girls stayed after to ask questions and discuss how Salem might fit within the Red Boot’s mission. In a matter of weeks, these entrepreneurial girls had arranged their first meeting, following other chapters in North Carolina, Arizona, and Missouri. “When I enrolled at the Academy, I felt that there needed to be a positive environment in which we all could discuss and begin to understand the elements that make us the wonderfully diverse community that we are,” says senior Lailah Chism. “Almost immediately, I could tell that Ms. Barker’s visit had motivated all of us and inspired us to 12 • forsythfamilymagazine.com
change ourselves and the world around us. In our Red Boot meetings, we’ve discussed goals that we want to achieve, both individually and collectively; hopes; fears; and what we need to do in order to overcome obstacles.” After only a few meetings, Academy students who are participating in the Red Boot Coalition are tackling issues that affect many young women today. “It is incredibly empowering for anyone, including young women, to be able to speak up and feel respected and heard. In our meetings thus far, we have been able to think about the importance of listening, and how it feels to be heard,” says junior Julia Dorn, adding, “When you enter a Red Boot meeting, it is understood that there is no judgment.” The founding of Salem’s chapter of the Red Boot Coalition is only one tick, among a long list of activities that Academy students enjoy, which is preparing them to serve as leaders in their communities and around the world. Each March, a group of students and faculty and staff chaperones dedicate spring break to serving other communities, with past mission trips to D.C. and Philadelphia, and an upcoming trip to New York City. During the school’s January Term—a three-week period of special courses, international travel, and internship opportunities—students on-campus volunteer with local organizations and learn from the richly diversified Winston-Salem community while assisting those in need. The Red Boot Coalition employs eleven steps: “We matter, we are empowered, we are