On St. Patrick’s Day, while the rest of us don our obligatory green to stave off pinches, the Lake Highlands High School Highlandettes will be getting’ jiggy in the green capital of the world – performing in Dublin’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.
To earn their invitation, director Shannon Harty – who performed in the parade both in high school and as a Kilgore College Rangerette – submitted the Highlandettes’ team photos, team history and several letters of recommendation from people who had seen the girls perform and knew of their caliber.
“Drill team is prevalent in states other than Texas. However, there’s a certain style to a Texas drill team that’s not found anywhere else in the world,” Harty says. “People in Dublin are used to seeing things like drum and bugle corps and twirlers, but a Texas high-kicking drill team is something that they never see.”
She broke the big news to the girls last fall with an Irish-themed party – green-glazed doughnuts, green punch and gold coin chocolates. The team figured Harty had something huge up her sleeve, but they weren’t expecting the “Ireland – Highlandettes World Tour” T-shirts.
“We knew we were going on a trip, and we knew it was a big trip, but we really didn’t know where,” says Highlandettes captain Mimi Pollok.
St. Patrick’s Day conveniently falls during the girls’ spring break, allowing them to spend nine days touring Ireland. Harty is requiring the girls to research each site they will visit.
“It’s really important to me that they know what they’re seeing,” she says. “They’re going to kiss the Blarney Stone and see the Book of Kells at Trinity College, and if they don’t know anything about those places, it won’t be meaningful.”
Their trip will mark the first time a Lake Highlands group has traveled internationally. And the girls will probably turn some heads with their kick routine to “Yellow Rose of Texas” amid all the Irish jigging. Not to mention that they will be wearing their classic red and white uniforms in a sea of green. But they intend to wear shamrock pins.
“We don’t want to get pinched,” says Highlandettes senior lieutenant Ashley Delmare.
For the seniors, it will be their last hurrah with the Highlandettes.
“It’s a great way to end high school – go out with a bang,” says Highlandettes first lieutenant Lisa Bradley.