One Last Pep Rally: Hillcrest Alumni to give the gym a proper send off

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Carlos Hernandez, a Hillcrest student and writer for the Hillcrest Hurricane, the student newspaper, wrote this article.

The Hillcrest gymnasium may hardly fit 500 hot, sweaty, and cramped students at any given basketball game or pep rally, but it is filled to the brim with the memories of countless past students and staff. Literally and figuratively, the gym is the heart of the Hillcrest campus; built with the original 1938 front hallway, it has endured five different generations of angst filled teenagers sitting within its walls. To commemorate its 79 years of faithful service to the Hillcrest community, a group of former alumni and PTSA members have gotten together to plan “One Last Pep Rally”.

“When the news began to spread about the new construction at Hillcrest, several alumni from my era thought we should plan something to say goodbye to the gym that houses so many happy memories for us,” said Christy Bednar, one of the founders of the Hillcrest High School Community Foundation and class of ’62 alum. “My friend and classmate, Linda Cullum Tunnell, offered to help with organization and promotion.”

A vintage photo of Hillcrest cheerleaders in 1962.

The HHS Alumni Association Leadership Committee, a group that plans alumni activities, is in charge of organizing the May 6 event. This is the same committee that plans the Platinum Panther Dinner in the fall, held to raise funds for the Alumni Association Senior Service Scholarship and to recognize Distinguished Alumni. Mrs. Bednar is joined by HHS Alumni Association President Betsy Brown Nelson (class of ’68), and many other alumni, along with Tom Daulton, father of an alum, and Amie Moyer, Past PTSA president.

“Hillcrest is a wonderful school that deserves the support of its past parents and alumni,” Mrs. Bednar said. “Our mission is to enhance the educational experiences of students, parents, faculty and staff in the HHS Community by promoting opportunities for excellence, inclusion and service in academics, arts and athletics.”

A pep rally to send off the Hillcrest gym is being held May 6.

Christy Bednar is a very involved member of the Hillcrest Community, and she maintains that apart from the love she has for our school, what she enjoys the most is meeting new Hillcrest students and faculty. She wants to get to know Hillcrest inside and out because she believes this will help the HHS Community Foundation as it develops further. During her time at Hillcrest, Mrs. Bednar was the Drillmaster for the Panaders, which back then was more a marching team than a dancing team. In the 60s, cheerleaders ran the pep rallies in the Auditorium, as opposed to today’s pep rallies ran by teacher emcees in the gym.

“We had lots of banners, but the big thing was to buy a ribbon and wear it to the game,” Mrs. Bednar said. “Each game had a specific ribbon wording, such as ‘Topple TJ’ running down the middle of it. I can’t remember how much they cost, but it was a nickel or a dime.”

The HHS Alumni Association worked alongside the administration and Mr. Bayer, who was very helpful and welcoming. Mr. Smith and the HHS band will be performing, as in most pep rallies, and the cheerleaders and Panaders will be there as well. Everyone in the Hillcrest community is invited. Kevin Sherrington, Sports Columnist for the Dallas Morning News, will be the headliner and emcee because of his extensive knowledge on Hillcrest sports history. The event is on Saturday morning, May 6, from 10:30 to noon in the school gym, and afterwards many alumni classes plan on going to lunch together.

“We come from many eras in the history of the school and from many walks of life, but we share one important thing – our Panther Pride!” Mrs. Bednar said. “Everyone who comes will have a different memory – a game, a dance, a pep rally – from his or her time at the school. But we will all sing the same Fight Song!”

When asked what her advice is to current and upcoming Hillcrest Students, Mrs. Bednar said, “This can be an extraordinary time in your life, with many friends and many opportunities. Carpe Diem! Make the most of every day, be kind to yourself and others, work hard – and be proud of your school!”

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