What do Theatre Arlington, the Levitt Pavilion, and the Arlington Museum of Art have in common besides being artsy and located in Downtown Arlington? Five women who went to Sam Houston High School together, graduated in the same class of 1982, and have stayed friends for over 40 years!
Kim, Letatia, Kellie, Belinda and I all attended high school together from 10th-12th grade (that was before freshmen were part of high schools in Arlington). Today, Kim Turner is the Director of Marketing and Development for Theatre Arlington; Letatia Tekyl is the Executive Director for Levitt Pavilion; Kellie Reichert is the newly appointed Director of Major Gifts at the Arlington Museum of Art; Belinda Caylor serves on the Levitt Pavilion Board of Directors; and I (Becky Phillips) serve on the Theatre Arlington Board of Directors.
Three of us were born here in Arlington, and the other two got here as fast as they could! Letatia brought her family here from Hico at a ripe old age of six months, and Kim followed suit from Everman at two years old. We were all raised here, and now we’re honored to be a fun and friendly female force in the vision for the arts in Downtown.
When asked what our favorite thing is about Downtown Arlington, every one of us said the way the community has come together to support the revitalization and rebuilding of this area. We understand that Arlington’s city and community leaders see the bigger picture, and we agree with and are proud to support their ambition to promote the “American Dream City” as much as possible.
In high school, all five of us were involved in extracurricular activities and volunteering. Most were in choir, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Student Council, and Spirit Sisters. Kim (of course!) and I participated in theater productions. Kim, Letatia and I all competed in the Miss Texan Pageant, an award show featuring talent, modeling, and an interview, done exclusively at SHHS back in the day. I won in 1981, then I proudly handed the crown to Kim in 1982. Belinda was the ball girl for the guys varsity team and says she watched an awful lot a lot of basketball all those years ago. Kellie and Kim also knew each other from French Club.
After graduation, our community involvement never waned nor has our pride for our hometown. Letatia carried her enthusiasm to UTA and was a Maverick Sweetheart recruiter for the football team. After college, she served on the boards for Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and SafeHaven while working at Southwest Bank, and later, Inspired-the Division of Higher Education Servicing Corporation. For over 18 years, Kim has worn multiple hats with Theatre Arlington. She also served as PTA President at Wimbish Elementary, served Lamar High School’s choir and theater booster clubs, and wore many hats in the video and theater ministry of Pantego Bible Church. Belinda has been the President of National Health Corporation since 2008, and also serves as Board President of USA+ Foundation (a company that has given over $8.5 million to various 501c organizations around the country). She’s also involved with the Ben Hogan Foundation. Kellie has worked at Arlington Charities in development and at the Arlington Life Shelter as Director of Development. I’ve been in the travel industry for almost 30 years, and at one time I owned Group Travel Connection, and Organization Unlimited, a professional organizing company. My volunteer work has included PTA President at Swift Elementary, Theatre Arlington Guild President, and booster club member for drill teams, choir, and theater. Letatia, Belinda and Kellie are all Leadership Arlington graduates.
As we look back together on our lives in our hometown, we are amazed at the cumulative amount of volunteer hours – literally thousands – we’ve given back since high school. Every one of them was a joy to give.
Our years at Sam Houston High School truly instilled in us a lifetime of love for our community. We still attend class reunions and often get together with classmates for dinners and girl trips. Letatia is heavily involved in SHHS alumni golf tournaments, and I’ve served on the SHHS Alumni Association board, led coat drives for the kids at SHHS, and chaired a craft and vendor fair a few years ago. SHHS Class of ‘82 was a close-knit class, and we’ve tried to stay that way. All five of us are looking forward to a return to “normal” someday and hope there is a 40th class reunion in 2022.
Until then, we know we’ll keep running into each other in Downtown! Ours may be a city with close to 400,000 people, but you’d never know it in Downtown Arlington. It seems everybody knows everybody.
Contributor: Becky Phillips