Highlandettes kick line. Photo by Steve Hedrick

Photos by Steve Hedrick, Greg Dale and Highlandette families

Oh, how things have changed in the past 50 years. But some entities, such as the Lake Highlands High School Highlandettes, are so rooted in tradition that they ever remain a source of neighborhood pride and nostalgia.

The Highlandettes celebrate 50 years this month with a 50th Anniversary Revue in the Lake Highlands Auditorium, April 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. Alumni receptions are Saturday night, and an alumni tea will be held Saturday afternoon. Visit highlandettes.com for tickets and details.

Meanwhile, peruse 50 facts and highlights from the Highlandettes’ 50-year history.

Read more coverage of the Highlandettes here.

The First Highlandtte team from 1961.

The First Highlandtte team from 1961.

• A line of 44 high-kicking Highlandettes performed at Lake Highlands High School’s first-ever football game in September 1961, held at a Greenville Avenue stadium.

The 2011-2012 line includes 48 girls, including six officers.

• They’ve tried different-sized teams. The longest line comprised 66 girls in 1974.

The smallest was in 2006 with just 26.

2011-2012 team photo. Photo by Southern Images

• The original traditional uniform included a long-sleeved field jacket, a button-on LH shield, a pressed circle skirt, top hat with elastic band, bloomers, white gloves and white boots. The 1980s version of the round skirt had to be starched each week. It took a half bottle of liquid starch and two days to dry. That was retired after the 1996 homecoming game.

Frances Davenport, who worked as a counselor at the high school, is credited with many of the Highlandette traditions.
She credited
Kilgore Rangerettes founder Gussie Nell Davis with inspiring her.

In the 1970s a Highlandette mom started making dolls that resemble the ’Dettes to sell at the bazaar. It caught on, and by the ’80s every team member’s mom was making a doll that resembled her daughter. The tradition lives today.

1969-72 Highlandette member Kathy Sutton Crawford told the Dallas Morning News in 2002 that “if (Davenport) had been head football coach, we’d have gone to state every year.”

• Achieving a perfect high kick requires a lot of stretching. The girls used to be told to stand in a doorframe and kick until their foot hit the top.

They traveled for the first time, with the LHHS band, in 1964 to march in the Fiesta Parade. The trip became an annual tradition through 1983.

The Western hat was added to the uniform in 1986-87.

• In order to travel, the team needed to raise its own funds. The first regular fundraiser was a Christmas bazaar featuring crafts made by Highlandette moms, held yearly at Mitchell’s Department Store in White Rock Shopping Center. These days, it’s the annual garage sale that brings in the bucks.

In 1972 they sold greeting cards to buy umbrellas that they used as props.

• They first traveled out of state to a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade in 1970.

Since, they’ve been in parades in New York City, San Diego, Hawaii, Disneyland, and this year performed over spring break on a Caribbean Cruise.

• The dances in the old days were strictly prop, kick or military, but today the Highlandettes incorporate jazz, tap and hip hop routines.

• “The Yellow Rose of Texas” dance, first performed by Highlandettes in the ’80s, is the last dance at every “Red/White” game.

In 1965, moms made all the costumes for the annual Spring Show, and the girls sang and acted out skits between numbers.

• Some of the girls change costumes 14 times during the modern Spring Show.

In 1982, the first male performers, dubbed The Highlandudes, appeared in the Spring Show. They are now a regular highlight.

The Wooden Dolly ’Dette has been a spirit prop since the ’80s.

• Several Highlandettes went on to become Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders — Kim Stevens, Judy London, Dawn Alston, Michelle Parma and Carrie Chapman.

The aforementioned Michelle Parma also starred on MTV’s reality show “Road Rules” before she was killed in a 2002 car crash.

• The 1980 team was featured in a national TV commercial for Trailway Bus Lines.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the girls decorated football players’ houses and made them cakes for homecoming.

• Highlandettes have performed at tons of Dallas Cowboy games, SMU games, and Cotton Bowl parades and games.

In the 1960s, the Highlandettes were the official drill team of the Dallas Chaparrals ABA basketball team.

• “Stand routines” are the movements the team does along with the band at football games. “Hey Baby” is a crowd and team favorite, and the LH Fight Song is performed each time the team scores a touchdown.

In 1988 the seniors danced to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” at the senior pep rally, and the music stopped early into the routine. The girls famously danced to the end, shouting out counts.

• In 1982 the LH Wildcats won state in football, and the Highlandettes performed a Christmas routine to “Jingle Bell Rock” using chairs that spelled out “Merry Christmas” while wearing Santa Hats.

Photo by Steve Hedrick

In the 1984 Spring Show, there were so many injured team members that an impromptu fashion show was added to allow the injured girls to participate. Some walked out on crutches.

• In 1993 the team added sophomores. Previously the line was just juniors and seniors.

The 50th and current line has many experienced dancers. The team won 18 awards at competition this year and took 24 soloists.

• Maybelline #645 Red Revival is the official lipstick of the Highlandettes.

New Highlandettes must learn to curl their hair in ringlets that will hold for football games and performances.

• Tryouts are held in December of each year.

To try out, students learn a dance and perform it, do a kick routine and must do splits on both legs. An outside panel judges the contestants, without an audience.

• Candidates are offered a Highlandette Prep Class for credit during the fall semester and are moved into a spring rookie class when they make the team.

Amy Acker

Amy Acker, a 1992-94 Highlandette, is a successful actress with three movies coming out this spring. She was in the cast of “Angel” and just appeared on “Once Upon A Time.”

• The “Mr. Smiley Face” award, an annual tradition since 1983, goes to a girl with a good attitude and big smile.

Meagan McDaniel

Meagan McDaniel, a 2005 officer, was a member of the New Orleans Saints dance team.

• Officer tryouts are held in March — candidates must perform a solo, choreograph a dance, perform a dance-and-kick routine that they are taught, complete a detailed notebook of dance ideas and leadership questions, and participate in an interview with the judges.

The Highlandettes hold fall and spring Dancing with the ’Dettes clinics for younger girls, allowing them to perform at a football game and the Spring Show.

• Rookie members must arrive 10 minutes earlier than returning members for every activity. New girls hold doors for returning members and help with props.

All Highlandettes address all adults and senior members with “yes ma’am/sir” and “no ma’am/sir.”

Highlandette officers

• “Family Time” is when the girls compliment and encourage each other. It is held at the end of each practice.

The Bob and Susie Dance is a recent football halftime show tradition in which the girls dance with their dads — the practices are a lot of fun, and the crowd loves to see the men dance, parents say.

Photo by Steve Hedrick

• The team always wears matching clothing when practicing or appearing in public. In the 1980s the girls came in sponge rollers and had to make sure the curlers stayed in while they danced, otherwise the entire team would lose their “curler privileges.”

The girls may not wear their uniform unless they are performing, and it must always be worn with all pieces. They are not allowed to eat in it unless the whole team is given permission. (This was not always true. In the 1970s, Kip’s Big Boy was the after-football-game hangout, and the girls went in uniform with their dates.)