Elizabeth Harley, a 10th grader at Coral Gables Senior High School, is proudly carrying on a tradition shared by her mother, Barbra Harley.
Barbra also attended Gables High and was a Gablette in 1985. Elizabeth now is a Gablette wearing the distinctive “checkers” garb that is the trademark of the school’s spirit dance team.
Gables High opened in 1950 and the Gablettes are celebrating their 35th anniversary this year. Barbra Harley was born and raised in the Gables and has lived there 42 years, so becoming a Gablette was a natural progression for her.
“I went all through the Coral Gables Schools — Coral Gables Elementary, Carver Junior High, Ponce [de Leon Junior] and then on to Gables High,” Barbra said. “In the spring of my ninth grade year, I tried out for Gablettes and made it. I was so excited because I had always heard about them and watched them perform when my brothers played football at Gables. It also helped that a lot of my friends were trying out so we all did it together.”
Barbra said that when her daughter decided to try out for the team she was pleased that she was following in her footsteps.
“I am thrilled that Elizabeth made Gablettes two years ago,” Barbra said. “She is a junior at Gables and is also a junior officer for Gablettes. She is a very hard worker and determined to do her best in all that she does, so this is very helpful to her as she participates as a Gablette.”
Becoming a Gablette was just as natural for Elizabeth, because growing up in a household with stories and pictures of when her mom was a Gablette influenced her.
“I always wanted to be a part of Gablettes and Company and I feel lucky that now I am on the team,” Elizabeth said. “I feel proud that I am able to carry on the tradition of Gablettes that has been around in the community for so long. It has changed my high school experience completely.
“It has given me opportunities that I would not be able to experience if I were not on the team and it has allowed me to get involved in my school, promoting school pride and spirit.”
Barbra Harley said that she has seen changes in the program over the years, including the fact that the team no longer performs with the band and participates in more competitions than previously.
“Things change and it all seems to work well,” Barbra said. “When I tried out in the ’80s, we were not dancers. We were girls who wanted to become dancers and be part of a prestigious dance team. We worked hard and learned as we went. I think many of the girls on the team now have dance backgrounds.”
Harley has friends from Gablettes that she still keeps in touch with and who forever will be some of her closest friends. That’s part of what she likes about the program and why she hopes the tradition will continue for more generations.
“I love the fact that although a lot has changed with the program there are still constants such as it teaches you discipline, time management, respect and to be passionate about something during your high school years,” Barbra said.
That appeals to her daughter as well, and she said her favorite part about being a Gablette is the relationships that she has been able to build with her teammates.
“I love having a group of people there that I can always talk and relate to, because we all go through the same things,” Elizabeth said. “They are like my sisters and brother. I can depend on them for anything and these are friendships that I know I will carry with me for a long time.”
And does mom have any helpful advice for her daughter based on her own experience?
“The only advice I have given her is to remember that she is a representative of Coral Gables Senior High and the Gablettes,” Barbra said. “She needs to strive to do her best and to set a positive example for the new members on the team.”
(The photo on the front page of the Coral Gables News has the incorrect picture of Barbra Harley. The correct picture appeals in this web article.)