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The phrase "Belles is Life" says it all. It succinctly describes the lifelong effect that being a part of the iconic Highland Park High School drill team has on many of its members.

"Now more than 730 members strong, the Belles Alumnae has become a powerful organization of influential women who carry the lessons they learned at HP into their adult life," said Renee McKenney, who was part of the first Belles squad in 1983-84 and is president of the newly formed Belles Alumnae Association. "Listen to the stories and you'll begin to understand the effect of that commitment."

"Beyond the fringe, there is so much more to the Highland Belles," she continued. "It's about empowering young women to feel strong and confident. It's about sacrifice and duty. And it's about coming together as one to unleash the vigor and force of a team that will never give anything less than its very best."  

The Belles will celebrate their 30th anniversary with the screening of a tribute film and a reception for current and former members, families and friends Dec. 17. Founding Belles Director Cathy Wheat will be honored, along with many others who contributed to the organization's history.

1990 alumna and former Belle Angie Harmon, who has gone on to a highly successful career as an actress and model, is the narrator of the film. 

"Being in the Highland Belles was one of the highlights of my life, simply because it was one of those first feelings of true camaraderie," she said. 

Harmon is joined by fellow actress Stephanie March, a 1992 graduate, and many other former Belles in describing how their experience on the squad prepared them for life.

Reid Slaughter, CEO and Creative Director of Bandana Films, produced the documentary.

"I went from being only a casual observer of the Belles to someone who appreciates the depth and breadth of the organization's value," Slaughter, an HP parent, said. "I've seen how it has changed lives and girls found themselves through being a Belle. It's about so much more than high school status. It's about life lessons."

Belles Director Shannon Phillips says she is proud to carry on that tradition.  

"It is difficult to summarize 30 years of rich history into 30 minutes of film, but the film feels like a fully comprehensive look at all that is Highland Belles," she said.  "I'm thankful for the opportunity to celebrate this special organization, and I'm looking forward to the next 30 years!"   

The Belles would like to thank their sponsors, Briggs Freeman Sotheby's International Realty, Highland Park Village, and the Highland Park Village Theatre. They also thank the Highland Park Alumni Association for its support. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Belles Alumnae Association, the Highland Belles, and Mad for Plaid. 
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