A group of Salem Academy and College alumnae, staff, and friends returned to the Triad Tuesday after five of them recreated a 500-mile journey that led to the school's founding 250 years ago.
At historic Bethabara Park a cheer went up to greet the “Fab Five,” as they entered the park — five women who'd followed the colonial migration trail on foot from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to North Carolina over 29 days. They, and the many walkers who joined them along the way, stood on the shoulders of Moravians who completed the same route in 1766: a dozen teenage girls, four Single Sisters and two men. Two of the Sisters would go on to become the first teachers at the school.
Salem College alumna — class of '76 — Lucy Rose is one of the event organizers who crossed four states on foot to get here.
"We could feel the women who went before us," says Rose. "And we were recreating the journey as specifically as we could, exactly as they did it. So, along the way, we read each day from their journal from the actual trip, and we could feel their spirit along the way which was really special to us as we did this."
Rose says the experience gave her a huge appreciation for the fortitude and bravery of those 18th-century women, and she hopes it ignites the next generation like recent alumna Victoria Lasley.
"I was the youngest on the walk for the last two days," she says. "And just for them to welcome me and allow me to be with them in one of the most emotional two days as they made their way here ... was humbling and inspiring and encouraging to say the least."
The group of roughly 300 walkers and volunteers set off on the final 6-and-a-half-mile leg of the journey together shortly after noon. Their final destination was Salem Square in front of the Academy and College.