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Haltom High School Celebrates 50 Years of Highsteppers

Haltom High School celebrates homecoming Friday night as the Buffalos (3-1) host the Abilene High School Eagles (3-1).

The football game, though, may be secondary to the actime before the game and at halftime.

The school's drill team, the Haltom Highsteppers, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. At the homecoming game, the team pays tribute to the woman who founded the Highsteppers in 1966. 

"I'd never been involved with drill team, so I had not a clue what I was doing," said Dorothy Mize as she talked about the day she stepped into history.

Mize said the principal needed someone to start a drill team and he asked her to lead it. The woman who admits she could not and still cannot dance accepted the challenge and put the first team of 51 Haltom Highsteppers on the field in the fall of 1966.

"Signature move? If we could just get on the field," she says with a laugh.

Yet from Day 1, she knew it was serious business and she would need to calm the doubters.

"It was showbiz. When they looked good, I looked great," she said.

Mize built the drill team program from scratch and paid attention to the details, like the lipstick the girls wore on the field to match their orange and black uniforms.

"Red lipstick and orange, you didn't do it in that day and time," she said. "So, Revlon put out what was called the 'orange flip.' They all hated it. They would put Vaseline on their lips and then put the orange flip because it would wear off and not dye their lips for their date after the game."

Becky Renfro Borbolla, a HighStepper from 1974-76, said everybody wanted to be a Highstepper.

"Tryouts were so nerve wrecking," she said. "She would add 20 to 30 girls each year, and you'd just die if you didn't make it."

She still stands in the dancer's pose her teacher drilled into her so many years ago.

"You got yelled at if you didn't get a straight line. We would bear into each other's shoulders to keep our arms locked, so our line would stay straight," she said, quickly praising the discipline and responsibility Mize instilled her Highsteppers. "Such an inspiration to myself and so many young ladies as we were growing up."

"I wanted to get them ready for life," Mize said. "Where they could go into an office where there were multiple women and they would be able to do their job because they worked with women all the time."

Humor, determination and command presence produced award-winning routines and shaped the lives of hundreds of girls until Mize retired in 1985.

"I thought, 'This isn't fun anymore. It's time I left,'" she said.

What Mize started lives decades later; a tradition carried on now by current instructor Decia Jones.

"She tries to give credit to everyone else, but she is an amazing woman who inspires that leadership in people," Jones said. "I know this organization would not be what it was if she had not started it and also stayed in contact with it. What we stand for as Highsteppers started 50 years ago and, because of her, it's continued."

The music and routines choreographed for a new generation almost brought Dorothy to tears as she watched the team at a recent rehearsal.

"See that would never have been in my day. I'm so proud of them," Mize said.

Over the last few weeks, Highsteppers past and present have rehearsed a new routine for a special performance before tonight's football game. Nearly 300 dancers will take the field to thank a woman who took the chance to start something new decades ago and in the process helped them choreograph their lives.

"Some of us still get together. We're best friends all these years," said Becky who went on to college and now helps run the family business. "It's amazing that Dorothy is still here 50 years later  to see all of us get on the field and perform for her."

"All the emotions come up. I can't believe it," said Mize. "To me, it was a wonderful job, but to see it still continue to be what it is and to have Decia, who is so excited and full of energy and ideas and loves this like I did, it's very emotional to me."

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