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Minnesota School Bans Shooting Team’s Photo From Yearbook For Featuring Guns

May 01, 2017

Minnesota’s Big Lake High School has quite an impressive trap shooting team. Recently, they posed for a picture to place in the school yearbook. The picture showed the 60 team members posed with shotguns by their sides. However, school officials rejected the yearbook photo. Superintendent Steve Westerberg said the student handbook “doesn’t allow firearms or weapons to be displayed.” Now the trap shooting team is petitioning the school board for reconsideration.

“This rule has been in effect since the school started sponsoring a Trap Shooting Team a couple years ago,” Westerberg said.

Parents of the team members have been trying to get the team photos included in the yearbook.

This is Clayton Birdsall’s first year on the team, he plays other sports and said his gun is no different than his baseball bat.

“That’s what you use in the sport. It’s just natural,” he said. “They both are equipment used in competition.”

Derek Birdsall, Clayton’s dad said he heard the announcement from school officials Wednesday. He said coaches have fought with the administration over images that include firearms before.

“It is a school-sanctioned activity,” Birdsall said. “It’s not like the kids are doing anything with it. They are literally just holding a gun.”

A fundraiser was held at the Pizza Ranch in Monticello where Derek Birdsall spoke with the team.

“Some of them they’re pretty upset,” he said. “I know one kid is a senior that started shooting in ninth grade for the first time ever.”

There have been countless social media comments on Facebook.

“It’s blown up today,” Derek Birdsall said. “There are comments from all over the community. People who don’t even have kids in school, and don’t have kids in the sport, upset that this isn’t something that’s going to be allowed.”

Coaches and parents have asked school board members to review the matter.

Mark Hedstrom, Big Lake School Board Chairman says he wants to see the trap team included in the yearbook.

“I have made a request to the superintendent to please add this item to (Thursday) night’s school board meeting agenda so the board can look at making an exception (to) this handbook guideline,” Hedstrom wrote.

The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Big Lake.