Highland teacher and coach Blake Medlock served as grand marshal for the Highland Homecoming Parade. Blake is picture with his wife Mary, throwing candy for onlookers at the three campuses.
By: Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor
Highland Student Council has made history again this year with a campus wide community involvement project for homecoming. Much like the first students to attend Highland when Hardy and Ash Flat Consolidated in 1964, this year students held a homecoming parade, involving students from all three campuses.
Elementary School students learned early on what Rebel Pride means. The children stood outside the building holding signs and dressed in red and gray as they watched as the band and members of high school clubs and teams drove past them throwing candy as they were cheered on.
From a balloon covered vehicle to lots of red, the long processional slowly made its way through leaving a mass of thrilled children in its wake.
The lengthy parade ended with the Rebel football team and cheerleaders before making its way to the middle school to greet equally as excited students.
The last stop was at the high school where, again, the parade was met by enthusiastic onlookers, cheering for the Rebels homecoming.
The parade allowed all students to participate and show their school spirit in ways as unique as themselves. The anxious squeals and excited faces of the hundreds of elementary students when they were able to get candy thrown from the vehicles was something most will recall.
The involvement by all clubs was evident
It was after Highland got a football field in 1969 that the first parade and pep rally made school history. Students who attended when the two districts consolidated, including cheerleader Liz Davis Russell told of how the parade was a way to create unity between two schools who had been longtime rivals. The Rebel mascot was adopted in 1968.
In the Sept. 13, 1969 edition of the Highland Rebel Rouser school newspaper, Rebel pride’s humble beginnings were immortalized in the following article, an article that speaks loudly even 53 years later to rebel fans and the community.
“What do you call crowd of more than 100 enthusiastic fans who go sixty miles to the first football game? What do you call a group of nine girls who run four miles to start a bonfire to spark some life into a group of 200 patiently waiting spectators? What do you call 25 fellow classmates who have worked for weeks getting into shape and learning the game of football to give Highland another sport to be proud of ? Mighty Rebel Spirit. Already, Highland has shown more spirit than we ever did last year. Let us keep this “Rebel Rousing” spirit up all year long and show everyone we are proud of Highland. There is one thing we should remember at games. We cannot all win, so we should try to accept defeat gracefully. If our team plays a hard and fair game, we know who deserves to win. Why can we not, after we have lost a game, just be glad we are in competition and be glad our team tried. Honesty, fair play, cooperation, spirit, respect for rules and authority should be exercised by the winning and losing team”.
It continued, “Opponents, this is called sportsmanship. This also includes keeping a stout hearting defeat. We all keep this in mind when we have to meet defeat. We should accept it gracefully, but strive in all we have got in Rebel spirit, whether we are winning or losing. Show our teams we really care and yell with all your might for Rebel victory.”
Russell, who was a cheerleader for the first Rebel teams recalls how much the team and cheerleaders actually had to learn about the sport. “Our first game was at Mountain Home, we got beaten really, really badly. In fact we didn’t even win any. We did some wrong cheering (for the other team) We didn’t even know football,” she explained laughing. Some of her fondest memories included Ray Hampton, State Trooper, Ray Martin, Sharp County Sheriff and Robert Slayton, Cherokee Village Deputy Sheriff leading a parade from Hardy to Highland for the first home game on Sept. 9. The cheerleaders left Hardy gym riding in a convertible and taking turns running with the football to Highland. They took turns running in relays. Marilyn Copus, cheer captain, picked up the torch at the school entrance and ran it to the softball field where the pre-game bon-fire was lit. This signified a pivotal moment in history for Rebel football and the implanting of pride in the community.
This year’s parade brought Highland back to its roots. The homecoming festivities provided very much to be proud of, including a top of the line performance at halftime by the band and the presentation of rings for their recently becoming State Band champions, for the first time in school history.
With the student leadership Highland is experiencing, it is easy to see how Rebel Pride will continue and leave a legacy for generations, just as the alumni have done.