Loftis cheerleaders welcome special needs students - WSMV News 4

Loftis cheer squad welcomes special needs students

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Loftis Middle School cheerleaders Loftis Middle School cheerleaders

CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WRCB)-  There are some new faces this year on the  Loftis Middle School cheerleading squad.  The award-winning team has welcomed five special needs students, adding a little extra cheer to everyone's lives.

Since 1995, Loftis has been home of the Cougars, excelling in many sports.  Now a diverse student body is represented better than ever on the cheerleading squad.  Five special needs students have been welcomed to the team.

Cheerleading coach Anita Newsom said the idea came from parents. "The school has always been wonderful with every student, and when we heard there was interest, we decided to go ahead and give it a try."

The results have exceeded everyone's dreams.  It has given the entire squad an extra boost of enthusiasm and pride.  The new girls gain self-esteem, make new friends and learn some new dance steps.

Newsom said, "We have taught them every cheer we know, and they have picked right up on all the routines.  At every football game, they do what we have taught them on the sidelines, and the fans love it."

Any fears that the new girls wouldn't be welcomed by the original cheerleaders disappeared right from the start.  7th grader Molly Heard, a captain of the squad said, "I was excited for us and for them, but I never expected it to be this much fun."

6th grader Raelyn Pickett is among the excited new cheerleaders.  "The first time I put on the outfit, it felt great," she said. "I love walking down the hall being a real cheerleader."

Newsom said, "I would love to see every school do this. It's been great to have them be part of our lives."

The team's final home game is Thursday September 27 at 6 p.m. when they host Signal Mountain.

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