Belles in Transition

Quite a local shake-up today. Highland Belles director, Christie Crummel has resigned. Having received no less than a dozen urgent emails in 10 minutes concerning the surprising news, my fave prediction is right here.

what is going on in the drill world? I am totally reading the tea leaves here but will Casey replace Christie?
Of course she means former Belle and director/owner of HP Dance Company, Casey Castellaw. I vote for Casey!
The announcement after the jump.

Dear Highland Park High School Families,

Highland Belles Director Christie Crummel will resign at the end of this school year to pursue other career opportunities. We greatly appreciate Ms. Crummel’s seven years of leadership at Highland Park High School. Under her direction, the Belles have continued to achieve at the highest levels and to enjoy a reputation as one of the top dance and drill teams in the nation. Ms. Crummel will always be a part of the Scot family, and we wish her well in the future.

In the upcoming days, we will begin searching for the next Highland Belles Director. We will work together with the Belles and their families to establish the criteria that will guide us in the hiring process.

Thank you for your continued support of the Belles and Highland Park High School.

Respectfully,

Walter Kelly

Principal

Highland Park High School

51 thoughts on “Belles in Transition

  • April 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm
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    Would this actually mean that young girls could take dance instruction from other local dance companies and be considered for Belles? You know under the current system if you don’t take from Casey you don’t get in.

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  • April 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm
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    there are several young ladies in the newest class who have taken from Powerhouse, Etkin-Atkinson, Preston Center and Next Step …. the above statement is not at all true

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  • April 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm
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    No, UP Resident, it means that young girls with talent can be considered for Belles. The Belles are selected by an outside panel of dance judges, unrelated to the sponser (coach) or community. Always been this way, even before Ms. Castellaw’s studio. The talent level must be judged by experts in the field, not left up to just one local person who might be influenced or pressured by our out-of-control parents. If you make it, you know that your child has talent, if not, they can keep working at it and try again. It is true that Ms. Castellaw was a Belle and knows what to teach the students who wish to become a Belle. I’m certain that if you could find another former Belle that was a good teacher, your daughter would have had the same level of training offered by Ms. Castellaw. Then it would only have been up to her ability and dedication to hard work to make the grade to become a member of one of the best.

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  • April 2, 2011 at 6:29 am
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    With all the changes going on with the Belles, maybe it is time to consider having the Belles become more engaged with the band performances. It might even make sense to have the Belle leadership answer to the band director, similar to how other high schools are set up.

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  • April 2, 2011 at 10:53 am
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    With all the changes going on with the Belles, maybe it is time to consider having the Belles become more engaged with the band half time performances. It might even make sense to have the Belle leadership answer to the band director, similar to how other high schools are set up.

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  • April 2, 2011 at 10:55 am
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    @HP guru — our band is fabulous — but NO band — college, professional or otherwise could play the upbeat, fast tempo the Belles dance to every week. That’s what makes them so fabulous and different from every other team. The other teams are blown away by the Belles, their performance, and the music they perform to, which is yet again another tradition! 🙂

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  • April 2, 2011 at 11:11 am
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    @HP Guru or we could keep with the tradition (thats what hp is all about right?) and have the belles be separate from the band, performing to recorded music instead of a marching band

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  • April 2, 2011 at 1:37 pm
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    @HPHS HPMS MOM, i predict Powerhouse (definately), Next Step(probably)and Preston Center(definately) will be out of business within 12 months. Ms. Statler(the founder of Powerhouse)has entered back into the competitive dance business as Park Cities Drill, a division of Park Cities Dance. Ms. Statler’s former assistant is leaving Nextstep to join her and she was THE drill teacher there. Preston Center hasnt had any of their students make belles in years, unless they took privates with Ms Castellaw. Bill and Ann Etgin Atkinson are not getting any younger. There time is limited too, but in a different way.

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  • April 3, 2011 at 9:10 am
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    @HP Guru: why would you take something that is awesome (the Belles) and change things for change things because that’s how “other schools do it”? That makes no sense to me. HP does not do things the way “other schools do it”. We are innovative and lead the nation! The Belles are the pride of Highland Park! Don’t mess with success!

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  • April 3, 2011 at 8:43 pm
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    Please if it going to be recorded canned music at least get some quality speakers. It’s painful.

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  • April 4, 2011 at 8:58 am
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    It is so sad that the actions of a few with influence ruin the life of someone who cared about values for these girls. I am so sorry for Christie. It’s a shame that the HP administration won’t back their staff. Best to Christie in her future endeavors—she is sorely missed by the majority, who nobody hears.

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  • April 4, 2011 at 9:26 am
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    @Beth. So there is a back story to this story.

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  • April 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm
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    Bad things happen to drill teams that choose not to wear white cowboy boots. Just saying.

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  • April 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm
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    Explanation needed.

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  • April 4, 2011 at 1:42 pm
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    Senior Goth Day. Don’t even think about wearing black. Yah, well we only have black cloths (and, it will get fixed anyway).

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  • April 4, 2011 at 10:31 pm
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    How about a lil variety? Every week it’s the same rave-music routine. These girls work their tails off, but c’mon! The Stepford Belles need to think outside the box(bubble).

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  • April 5, 2011 at 3:42 am
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    Pretty sure that back in the day Cathy Wheat was judge, jury and executioner when it came to picking the girls. Also don’t think the Goth Day Garbage would have gone down on her watch. She and Cecil Holmes ran a tight ship at HPHS.

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  • April 5, 2011 at 6:24 pm
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    JGO-I’m pretty sure Cathy Wheat wouldn’t have stood a chance against these ruthless parents! I’m pretty sure Christie ran a tight ship too. The girls were warned to not do this.

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  • April 6, 2011 at 9:18 am
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    Ms Crummel gave a very nice brief speech last night at the belles annual showoff. Basically she thanked the parents for many kind and supportive emails. What I took from it is she was reassuring us parents we would be ok without her. Very touching and many teary eyes in the stands.

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  • April 6, 2011 at 5:55 pm
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    Angela-I’m sure the speech was “prepared” for her.

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  • April 6, 2011 at 9:58 pm
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    The Belles were absolutely awesome at the Grapevine competition. They should be proud of the hard work they obviously put into their routines. So fun to watch.

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  • April 7, 2011 at 9:38 am
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    @sweet, it was a sincere 45 second, from the heart, off the cuff speech. were you there? do you know ms crummel? i am as jaded as they come and i can smell XXit from 10 miles away. this was not of that nature.

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  • April 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm
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    to HPGURU-
    One of the reasons the belles are known for the precision and excellence is because of their difference from other dance teams. They would not be able to have the same excellent and crowd pleasing performances when dancing with the band. They should definitely keep the traditions that Kathy Wheat and Christie Crummel have held strong to.

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  • April 7, 2011 at 10:02 pm
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    To all:
    Speaking as a belle, Christie Crummel will me missed by all of the belles. She is not only a spectacular director and dance instructor, but she also is a wonderful role model in all of our lives. It upsets me and the team beyond belief to see her leave. It is upsetting that a few girls could damage her career, and I wish that the administration had done more to support Crummel throughout her experience this past year.

    to UP Resident:
    Taking from Casey does not guarantee a spot on Belles. Many girls who take from Casey do make Belles because she is a fabulous instructor and knows what she is doing, but there are no guarantees for making belles. A group of hired professionals pick dancers off of ability, and security is tight to make sure there is no outside influence.

    HP Guru:
    I do appreciate your request, but Belles is based on tradition. Although we respect the band and their talent, I know that no one on Belles would like to dance to the band at all. That will simply not happen. We have high energy and fast routines. That is what we love and what we enjoy. That is why we dance.

    Sweet:
    Crummel’s speech was not planned or written before hand. She said it sincerely with all her heart.

    For all of our supporters, thank you. Although this will be a difficult transition for all of the Belles, we are all planning on trying our best to remain a unified team and enjoy doing what we love so much. That is what Crummel would want us to do. We owe it to Crummel to try our best, because she is truly a phenomenal person who loved her work.

    Thank you.

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  • April 7, 2011 at 10:46 pm
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    But belle the music might br great but the sound system stinks. Maybe get dr dre as a sponsor and use beats stereo…..the band surely could play your walk up song.

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  • April 8, 2011 at 8:31 am
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    Glad to hear from a Belle. As mentioned earlier, many of us who are obviously in the majority at HP are once again relegated to the wishes of the influential “donors” whose children didn’t get what they wanted. Another agonizing loss for our staff thanks to political pressure.

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  • April 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm
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    You all are cracking me up. Okay, so Christie Crummel was bullied out the door by a handful of seriously bad seeds…and their moms. Think of all the former Belles and all of the Universities we attended. Not to mention the sororities we were in. Payback, ladies.

    I blame the 6 month in HP Kelly/Orr “package deal” who gave Christie Crummel zero support and allowed the mean girl pack to ensue. Absolutely unacceptable. Those two need some education of their own regarding the legacy and traditions of HPHS.

    Let me be very clear: Cathy Wheat is the best ever and was not judge and jury in one. Cecil Holmes was awesome too. They were leaders and got things done. Yes, Mrs. Wheat ran a tight ship and we absolutely love and respect her greatly for molding us into the leaders we are today. She is one of the most fair, honest, and good people I’ve ever known. She is the original “tell it like it is” Dr. Phil McGraw. She also hand picked Christie Crummel.

    Mrs. Wheat taught us the importance of discipline, leadership, teamwork, and skill. As role models and leaders of the school, Belles just know not to dress up for “Goth” day or in our case “White Trash” day. It’s not becoming. Belles are actaully held accountable for their actions as any student should be. You make a mistake, you apologize for it, take the punishment, and get back to business. Theses are life lessons. When you tell a person in a leadership role that she can’t do her job, what message does that send?

    Being a Belle is a priviledge, not a right. You either can dance or you can’t. The judges see the raw talent and they are the pros. The bottom line is this, you parents need to be parents first and stop trying to be the “cool mom” and/or best friend. If you are doing your job as a parent now, you will be friends later. You need your own lives and you need to dicipline children. This whole sense of entitlement coming from them is disgusting, unacceptable and stems from them watching you.

    I LOVE the Belles. Sorry, but they are never going to dance with the band. It’s just never going to happen.

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  • April 9, 2011 at 1:19 pm
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    Thank you Forever a Belle ’93!!!

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  • April 9, 2011 at 9:32 pm
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    Any time. Former Belles get it.

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  • April 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm
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    I most likely used to swoon over ’93 Belle when I was a lowly ’96 Coach Holmes Poject. Le Sigh…

    Meredith how about some updates on Holmes, Frank Bevers, Jim Mauser, Cathy Wheat, etc?

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  • April 13, 2011 at 9:06 pm
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    Most likely? Hmmmm. In Love, I’m sure you learned from Coach Holmes a little discipline that helped make you the upstanding and solid citizen you are today-hopefully. I saw Coach Mauser just a few weeks ago working with some cross country girls. That was straight up funny to see 18 years later. I’m friends with Mrs. Wheat on FB and do keep up with that awesome lady. Question is, are we even friends? xoxo

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  • April 14, 2011 at 8:55 pm
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    This article is totally biased and untrue, and this is coming from someone who was ACTUALLY there and not who heard the story from a chain of others. Ms. Cummel, while a a good director, made us feel vulnerable, insecure, and underappreciated. I have heard her tell people that they need to lose weight so “that they’re leaps will be better.” She tells us that hotdogs are not friendly for our diets. She watches our dance in slow motion to look for mistakes (that would not have been seen in “real” time). While I do feel sorry that she has gone through some of this, she is a manipulator (she just got her degree for it). She knows how to control people, and this is why it is a good decision for her to retire (which was TOTALLY her choice). She pushed a student, and even if the student was wearing black clothes and make-up, it is NEVER right for a teacher to push a student. People were not notified not to wear goth clothes until that morning, and had already brought their clothes to school. This happened a couple of years ago too. The newer Belles have not been with her for that long and are ignorant of some of her behavior or at least think that it is normal. I have not known a Belle who has not had a negative connotation with her experience. This is wrong- dance should be a fun and memorable experience, not a bad one. (Belles are scared to go against Crummel because they think that they will be punished and not make dances so this is why nobody ever says anything and why the seniors could stand up for the team.) This is not that big of a deal and I do not know why former Belles from the 80s are having meetings about HIGHSCHOOL. Grow up.

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  • April 15, 2011 at 2:47 pm
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    Dear from a real belle, you cant be a real belle if you say crummel gave diet tips…in all my days of belles, crummel has never told anyone that they need to lose weight. Watching dances in slow motion helps up improve and perfect our dances…unless you want the belles to have a bad reputation for looking sloppy, then that’s your business and that’s immature. Get over yourself and GET A LIFE. and for the record, crummel was bullied out of her job.

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  • April 15, 2011 at 7:18 pm
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    @from a real belle.
    Perhaps in an ideal world, Belles would be just the “fun and memorable experience” you want it to be, as would football and every other directed and coached high school activity, but in the real world coaches and directors work hard for the near-perfect performances our community has come to expect. Ms. Crummel would have been out the door long ago if she made the Belles just fun and games, and not a big deal.
    p.s. – Hot dogs aren’t good for dancers’ health, with their nitrites, dyes, fats, calories, mystery meats, etc.

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  • April 16, 2011 at 9:55 am
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    1) she did tell us to lose weight/ get in shape. If you don’t want to believe the truth then fine. But it happened. Everyone believes all the lies and not the truth from people who heard it first hand.
    2) Ms. Crummel could have still been a strict coach who wasn’t mean to people. I have had many dance coaches who have been respectful to people while still being a strict and effective coach. When a coach is mean to students, they lose respect and are therefore not as effective because nobody likes them. Therefore, Belles could have been more fun but obviously still hard work. Just because its fun does not mean we wouldn’t have to work hard, because obviously we do, we spend over 10 hours a week perfecting them.
    3) I can’t believe this is such a big deal. I just wanted everyone to know the truth since some of the Belles and Belle families have been painted such a bad picture.
    4) Crummel just finished her masters in counseling (how ironic) and I bet that is why she retired. She probably wants to get a better job than a highschool drill team director. It was her choice, ASK her and the school. It is virtually impossible to get a teacher fired at HP who has been working for that long. Belles did not get her fired or bullied her out of her job whatever you think.
    This is the truth from what I have seen, heard and experienced. If you can’t take the truth, please don’t spread the lies. If you weren’t there how do you even know? And people can change, maybe she wasn’t like that when you met her. She can be very friendly sometimes. If y’all are ignorant enough to listen to what people who weren’t even there tell you over what someone says who has been there than y’all are foolish. Just because you want to believe that fake story doesn’t make it true. But whatever, if slandering the name of some highschool girls is what you like to do with your life then fine.

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  • April 16, 2011 at 11:07 am
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    Real Belle confirms my feeling that these girls should be studying more with her misuse of the English language.

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  • April 16, 2011 at 3:54 pm
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    @dallascowgirl
    Your sentence is not grammatically correct. “studying more WITH her misuse of …”

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  • April 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm
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    @umm. It’s OK: “confirms my feeling . . . with her misuse”

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  • April 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm
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    @ Forever a belle … thank you for everything you have said … I agree completely! I hate to say but Real Belle sounds like a whiner … I can name you at least 60 girls a year (about that many tried out this year) who are happy to condition, eat right, attend dance classes, and obey the rules if it means getting to make Belles! For example, if “real Belle” is not conditioned and out of shape, it affects not only her but the girls who dance beside her and the whole team. I must admit … many of us are very scared of what the future brings for the Belles. Many of us do NOT want a watered down version of Wheat and Crummel … a part of the reason all the girls want to be a Belle is because it is so hard to become one … and the girls who work hard enough and are good enough are admired and looked up to. It goes back to the saying “If it were easy, everybody would be doing it!” If you want to eat hot dogs, sleep late, not follow the rules, not condition or practice, and whine about your director … then don’t try out for Belles … and if you become one … at least don’t complain about it!

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  • April 19, 2011 at 5:56 pm
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    @from a real belle: “1) she did tell us to lose weight/ get in shape. If you don’t want to believe the truth then fine.”

    You make a good point. Sometimes the truth hurts. But if your freaking drill team coach says that you need to lay off the hot dogs, lose some weight and get in shape, then you probably do.

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  • April 20, 2011 at 8:45 am
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    OK, I’m not a former Belle or a mom of a future Belle, but I agree with Neal’s statement. A coach telling her athletes to get/stay in shape and stay away from crap food with no nutritional value isn’t an indictment of bad coaching or promoting eating disorders.

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  • April 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm
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    B – You are most welcome.

    Sounds to me like ‘from a real belle’ might be one of the girls who is a large part of the problem. I know it’s hard to see past your own Belle group but there are hundreds of the full 650 OTHER Belles from the 80’s, 90’s, & ’00’s, who have stepped up and spoken out against your poor behavior. So, that’s the big deal.

    Your attitude and the selfishness in your writing is apparent. How DARE someone EVER tell you what is healthy. How DARE someone EVER tell you NO. YOU do what YOU want when YOU want to. That is not a ‘real Belle’. That is not a leader or someone to aspire to become. It’s a shame you have that sense of entitlement because when you leave the bubble you are in for a rude awakening. Guaranteed.

    Until 1993, there were weight requirements so it’s safe to say that turkey sandwiches, fruit, a Diet Coke, & fat free frozen yogurt was the choice option for lunch. Hot dogs with all those nasty fillers, dyes, nitrates, and empty calories weren’t something we wanted to put in our bodies. It was about education and better food choices. Silly us. We wanted to be in peak condition, able to perform at our best always, be good examples and work hard for our Director to win oodles of awards, and be flawless on the field.

    Don’t even start with the slo-mo performance playback. It is very necessary for you to see what you are doing wrong, where, and how to make it better. It’s called constructive criticism and it’s for the good of the TEAM. It’s an ensemble precision group. Clearly, you need to be precise. Give me a break if you think it is mean. I mean really.

    You rag on the Belles from the 80’s but you have them to thank for even having a drill team. There were no sports or teams for girls. There was NOTHING for girls. They fought to start this organization and it took several years to make it happen. How do you not get this?

    While you have the Charter Belles to thank for getting the drill team started, you have Cathy Wheat to thank for making the Belles who they are. I promise, young whiny hot dog, if you think Ms. Crummel is tough, you would not have lasted 5 minutes under the direction of Mrs. Wheat. Your stage mother wouldn’t have lasted 3.

    It is clear you do not grasp the central theme of what makes up the Highland Belles and that is discipline. I promise you will wish you had learned some down the line, later in life. I hope one day, after you out grow this “I know it all” phase, that you recognize your teachers and coaches are trying to make you a better person.

    In the mean time, the solution is simple. How about you not be a Belle any more since it’s too tough for you and everyone is so mean? Whaaaa. We will gladly accept YOUR resignation, young whiny hot dog.

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  • May 10, 2011 at 9:18 am
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    Seriously. I love ’93 Belle. Are you married?

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  • May 10, 2011 at 1:00 pm
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    No one likes a stalker @ In Love. 🙂

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  • May 19, 2011 at 2:44 am
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    I know that this is a little late, but after returning from college, and being out the loop of things within “the Bubble”, I felt the need to comment on this.

    As a recent graduate of HPHS, I am not surprised this happened at all. This graduating class is probably one of the worst to go through HP, morally and, for the most part, academically as well. They felt a certain sense of entitlement, which none of them even came close to. From what I have been told, the belles were told not to dress up a couple of days, or the day before, the goth day, but instead of respecting their coach/ mentor’s wishes, they only brought their goth clothes to school, so that when Crummel told them to change, they used the excuse of “we don’t have anymore clothes and have to go to class”. They were going to do exactly what they wanted to do, regardless of what they were told because they were seniors and they believed that they had a right to do this incredibly juvenile and insulting “tradition”.

    I am not sure of whether the “pushing” allegations are true or not, but sometimes, especially at HP, the only way students will get the message through their thick skulls is a little physicality. They know that there really won’t be repercussions because they are about to graduate and leave for college. During my years at HP, I have been in a class period where a student has acted outrageously against a teacher, and after a yelling match, which is the limit that a teacher can do, this defiant student had to be threatened by the Assistant Principal before he complied.

    None of this would be a problem if it weren’t for the enabling parents. As it’s been said before, these wealthy HP parents feel that they can do whatever they want since they have ample amounts of money, and that sense of entitlement trickles down to their children, which translates into misbehavior and overall disrespect for everyone and everything around them. The sad thing is, though, that nothing is going to change. In fact, it is probably going to get worse. I am thankful that I was raised with a firm head on my shoulders and strict, but also loving care. I am also thankful that I found a group of friends with parents that are the same as mine. Mostly importantly though, I am extremely grateful for the education I received at HPHS. The teachers are phenomenal and really prepare those who try and utilize the resources they are given, which most do not, for college. I am deeply saddened that such a fine educator fell victim to the unforgiving, coldness of HP parents and students.

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  • May 20, 2011 at 2:27 pm
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    AMEN to “Former Student’s” post! Let’s just say it’s probably a good thing Casey Castellaw didn’t get the nod for Belles Director after all. Her involvement in the Belles might have contributed to Christie Crummel’s departure. The best of luck to the new director, Ms. Harty! She needs to watch out for those parents, too. They’ve run off many a coach and director at HPHS.

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  • May 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm
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    @Former Student – You are a good egg, kiddo. The pride and joy of the Park Cities. Thank you for shedding a little more light on this situation. It makes my heart happy to know there are still young adults like yourself coming out of the bubble. Best of luck to you in school!

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