Student Achievements: Belles, Twirlers, Robots, and Volunteers

Editor’s note: If you know students whose accomplishments should be recognized by the newspapers, please email the details with high-resolution photos and photo identifications to [email protected]. 

1. The newest Belles

The award-winning Highland Belles drill and dance team has added 22 new team members to the 2023-2024 roster of 78, plus any additional managers yet to be named by the directors.

FRONT ROW, FROM LEFT: The new members include Dylan Roy, Elizabeth Slates, Kate Clancy, Brooke Van Arsdale, Josie Borders, Mary Jane Clark, and Rachel Kuhnel. MIDDLE ROW: Sallie Sachs, Tali Hammer, Ellis Rhodes, Jane Rossley, Lillian Booth, Kylie Barnes, Ella Jahant, and Rebecca Stanwood. BACK ROW: Ashley Mowan, Edie Rachal, Cooper Denton, Caroline McMillan, Cameron John, Louisa Ballard, and Allie Boynton.

Dancing under the direction of director Shannon Phillips, performances include military, jazz, pom, high kick, hoop, and contemporary selections. 

2. White fringe leaders

Alexandra Wright, Ellie Donahoe, Sophie Bishop, Addison Renfrow, and Mary Mathison, the newly selected 2023-2024 Highland Belles lieutenants, will take the field at Scots football games next fall in the signature white fringe that signals their leadership roles.

The girls’ selection came after a rigorous process in front of a panel of judges.

3. Service announcement

Community Service Council president Elya Khakpour (left) and vice president Olivia Fox, both seniors, have a message for other Highland Park High School students.

“We encourage students to join a club and get involved in something that they are passionate about,” Fox said. “The true gift is knowing that you are helping someone.”

Last semester during the Thanksgiving Basket fundraiser, students helped the council collect more than $6,000 in donations to provide 55 employees – custodians, cafeteria workers, and maintenance and security personnel – each with a turkey or ham, a pie, and a $100 grocery gift card.

“Service employees do an incredible amount of work for us students,” Khakpour said. “We were thrilled to be able to collaborate with clubs across the school to contribute to such a good cause.”

4. Twirls to remember

While the Belles look forward to next fall’s halftime shows, we recall the dazzling performances of twirlers Mimi Tafel (left) and Karianne Grove-Collins from last year’s football season.

Grove-Collins, a sophomore, and Tafel, a freshman, also showcased their skills during the Annual Fall Festival Twirling Competition in San Antonio.

Grove-Collins swept the 16-and-over division, taking first place in her six events. Tafel took third in her two events in the 13-15 age group. 

5. Drone recovery

HPHS Robotics Varsity Bell team would let a rough start down hopes for a strong performance at the Bell AVR Emergency Firefighting Challenge last semester.

The team’s drone flipped to the ground and almost crashed on its first run, but the students remained calm and focused. After fixing the drone, their scores steadily improved with each run, earning them third place overall and second for presentation.

Team members include captain Alison Zou, a senior; captain Woodrow Dyer, a junior; seniors Luka Zivaljevic, Sally Dai, and David Pike; junior David Burns, and sophomore Sally Wang. 

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William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at [email protected]. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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