April 26, 2017 10:52 PM
The Big Lake High School trap shooting team is petitioning the school board to approve their yearbook photo after it was rejected by school officials.
The photo shows 60 team members posed with shotguns by their sides.
Superintendent Steve Westerberg told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in an email that the student handbook "doesn't allow firearms or weapons to be displayed."
He also wrote that parents have pushed for several years for the team to be included in the yearbook.
"This rule has been in affect since the school started sponsoring a Trap Shooting Team a couple years ago," Westerberg wrote.
Clayton Birdsall is on the team for the first time this year. He plays other sports and said his gun is no different than his baseball bat.
They both are equipment used in competition.
"That's what you use in the sport," Birdsall said. "It's just natural."
Birdsall's father Derek 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," Derek Birdsall said. "It's not like the kids are doing anything with it. They are literally just holding a gun."
Derek Birdsall spoke to his son and several other teammates during a fundraiser at the Pizza Ranch in Monticello.
"Some of them they're pretty upset," Derek Birdsall said. "I know one kid is a senior that started shooting in ninth grade for the first time ever."
The topic garnered hundreds of social media comments on a local Big Lake Forum Facebook page.
"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 take up the issue.
Big Lake School Board Chairman Mark Hedstrom told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS via email that 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.