All Kim Kirksey wants is for her Marshall High School cheerleaders to look their best.

But that’s been hard to do of late, said Kirksey, the squad’s cheerleading coach, given that her 15 active members are wearing uniforms nearly 10 years old. The school provides partial funding, but only after a request is submitted and approved by the Local School Council.

Other funding comes through donations from alumni or letters sent to parents, like one that went out a week ago requesting help to buy the cheerleaders new uniforms.

“We’ve just been trying to make do,” said Kirksey, the team’s coach for the last two years. “I’ve been washing them myself for two years. The threading is coming out and the suits are pretty worn.”

The cheerleading team hasn’t had new uniforms in nine years, said Kirksey. The nylon body suits that are worn by each member underneath the uniform were purchased last year, Kirksey said. But with the squad performing four days a week at both boys and girls basketball games and for the boys football team, those suits are just in bad a shape as the uniforms, said Kirksey.

The squad accompanied the boys basketball team downstate this past weekend for the Illinois High School Association State Tournament. The Commandos finished third in the state tourney.

But Kirksey also had her eye on the competition’s cheerleaders and their sparkling uniforms that may not have been new but looked it. Kirksey said most of her members come from low-income homes, and she’d like for their uniforms to look as new as their competition’s.

“My young ladies, they don’t have what some of the other schools have,” said Kirksey, whose daughter Kandyce is also on the squad of freshman, sophomore and junior girls. “I just don’t want them feeling and looking so different.”

Kirksey wants to buy the squad new uniforms, with the school’s colors of maroon and gold. She said it’s about time.

“They don’t complain,” she said of her team members. “They just enjoy being cheerleaders. I’ve been learning how to do the funding for the team. Whatever comes out of this, we’ll be very grateful.”

For more information or to inquire about donating, call Marshall High School at 773/534-6457 or write Attn: Cheer/Pom Team, John Marshall High School, 3250 W. Adams, Chicago 60624.

?”Terry Dean