Highland Belles Celebrate ’40 Years of Fringe’

Charter members led petition drive to create award-winning dance team

The Highland Belles celebrated “40 Years of Fringe” by gathering Belles, both past and present, at Highland Park High School.

Of the 33 original Highland Belles charter members, 18 attended on Aug. 25, including three of the Belles who drafted the original proposal to start the drill team.

The Belles’ story began 40 years ago when six girls attended a sleepover and collectively decided that there was a need for an additional activity for girls at the high school. At the suggestion of the dad hosting the sleepover, the girls stayed up that night writing a proposal for what would be the Belles dance team. They presented their idea to the principal, who agreed to approve it once they secured 1,000 support signatures.

They all worked hard, but this team was so determined.

Cathy Wheat

The principal then took the proposal to the HPISD Board of Trustees for official approval. 

Founding director Cathy Wheat attended the anniversary celebration and spoke about the Belles’ history.

“These girls that started this team – they worked harder than any team I had after that,” Wheat said. “They all worked hard, but this team was so determined. They have set a legacy. They were such a close family. They’ll tell you now they’re still a family.”

After Wheat’s comments, current director Shannon Phillips introduced a video presentation about the history of the Belles with comments from former Belles and others, including Phillips herself and head football coach Randy Allen.

“Congratulations to the Highland Belles on 40 great years of being one of the finest Highland Park traditions at halftime,” Allen said in the video.

“Just an awesome responsibility and an honor to have spent the past 11 years with this team and to even consider what’s next for the program as we move past our 40th year,” Phillips said. “I hope we continue to just challenge ourselves with more difficult choreography, with more innovative choreography, continue to provide material that the girls are excited about and that our home crowd is excited to see on the field.”

Following the video, the Belles previewed the routine they’d perform during halftime at the Scots’ season opener against Flower Mound Marcus on Aug. 26.

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, former deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order.

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