When Cindy Traylor, Elizabeth Smith and Belinda Bayliss graduated from Lake Highlands High School in 1980, little did they dream their paths would cross again years later.

The women, now known as Cindy Terrell, Elizabeth Crusius and Belinda Bradley, have not only returned to the Lake Highlands area but all are on staff at Merriman Park Elementary – Terrell and Bradley as teachers and Crusius as school librarian.

“I always thought I would come back here (to Lake Highlands) because I was born and raised here,” Terrell says. “It is just really neat that we all ended up in the same school.”

“Who would have ever thought that?” Crusius says.

The three Dallas natives recently met in the school’s library and shared some of their high school memories – punctuated with a lot of laughter and good-natured teasing.

“We all ran around with the same groups of people. Liz and I cheered (cheerleading) together from 7th through 10th grade,” Bradley says. “Forget her tumbling – she could do the Chinese splits, and the whole audience loved that!”

“We were the social ones. Liz was more of an introvert,” Terrell says. “I, of course, was the most popular!”

Crusius says she is the most serious of the trio, jokingly calling the other two “disruptive.”

“I quit cheerleading after my junior year because I wanted to do something different. I joined choir, theater and drama.”

While all three say they didn’t consider becoming educators while in high school, all believe they made the right choice.

“I really can’t see myself ever leaving the classroom,” Terrell says. “We really are in a job where you see awards daily. You get joy out of it every day.”

Motivating her students to love learning and following their journey through the same schools she attended is rewarding, Bradley says.

“I love working with kids. You have to have a sense of humor,” says Bradley, whose frequent chuckle is well known. “You have to be able to laugh with them.”

Like her two former classmates, Crusius started out in the classroom, teaching high school English, Drama and Speech/Debate before returning to graduate school to become a librarian.

“I love the organization of the library. You still get to teach,” Crusius says. “I have the best of both worlds.”

MPE principal Erica Coppie is glad to have the LHHS alumni on staff.

“It speaks very highly of RISD to have cultivated three such exceptional educators. Students are highly motivated to push themselves to higher level with the caring support of Elizabeth, Belinda and Cynthia.

“What incredible role models they make for our Merriman Park community.”

The women now see history repeating itself in their children.

“We take our kids now to Lake Highlands football games,” Terrell says. “They have Lake Highlands t-shirts and go to all of the games.”

And if anyone needs further proof that “what goes around, comes around,” they only need to listen to Crusius’ experience with a group of her former teachers.

“I taught a computer staff development class this past summer,” Crusius says. “They talked and cut up.”

“They were the worst class!”