Members of The Lawrence High School Marching Lions point to trombone player Jacob Ryan as a reason why they need new uniforms.
The lanky junior's uniform doesn't fit. The sleeves on his white jacket are about an inch short of reaching his wrists. His black pants are so short that it looks like he's going fishing instead of playing in the band.
"We don't have any alternatives for people like Jacob. These uniforms are just too small," said Xander Casad, an LHS senior and field conductor.
Dozens of LHS parents and students have written letters to school board members in an effort to replace the 12-year-old uniforms.
"It's like showing up at The Ritz in a pair of blue jeans - they won't let you in, and if they do, they won't take you seriously," said Terry Jacobsen, whose son is a sophomore trumpet player.
The cost to replace the uniforms is estimated to be $100,000.
LHS band director Mike Jones said the uniforms were designed for performing at football games only, but now the band marches in several competitions as well. The uniforms also present sizing issues, because they were fitted for the band students 12 years ago.
He said the uniforms also can inhibit how the band performs in marching competitions, although they have had success in recent years. He said the band's formations must be spread out because of the white jackets, and the stripes on the black pants can be telling if members are out of step or out of line.
Judges have docked points because of the uniforms, he said. The uniforms also are difficult to clean and have been hemmed so many times that it causes some to tear.
Board members talked at their Nov. 12 meeting about receiving the letters, which seemed to raise eyebrows.
"I didn't realize how old the uniforms were. That wasn't right on my radar screen," Rich Minder, board member, said. "That you brought that to our attention is good."
But they made no funding promises because they have a list of more than $6 million worth of requests.
"We will be very seriously taking a look at that request when we begin our budget process for 2008-2009," board president Linda Robinson said.
Jones said he does not want new uniforms to require the district to have to sacrifice any major programs.
Jacobsen said district leaders need to be prepared to support their fine arts programs.
"There needs to be a plan in place to replace those uniforms every so often," he said.
District administrators and principals also put requests in last year to replace the 10-year-old Free State High School uniforms, although some parents have said LHS should get new ones first.
"We would certainly advocate the school district provide new uniforms for Lawrence High, and we're happy to wait until they get theirs," said Julie Jasperson, a Free State parent.