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Big Lake Schools: Trap Team Yearbook Photo Now Allowed

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Amid controversy, the Big Lake School District administration has decided to allow a photo showing the high school trap team holding their guns.

"I guess it was victory," said coach Rhonda Eckerdt. "We get the trapshooting team in the yearbook."

That victory happened a lot faster than Eckerdt expected. She and several others thought they would have to plead their case to the Big Lakes Schools Board of Education Thursday night.

Initially, the school wasn't going to include their photo in the yearbook because the school's athletic director said it was against school policy to include firearms in pictures.

Rob Doar, political director of the Gun Owners Caucus, was prepared to be at Thursday night's meeting. When he caught wind of the controversy, he said he knew he had to help out.

"We immediately mobilized our supporter base. We sent out an email, we engaged in our social media to have people contact the athletic director, the school principal and the school superintendent," Doar said. "[The administrators] seemed a little asinine that they wouldn't allow the photo of the group that they sanctioned to be inside of the yearbook."

Parents of players and other community members did the same. Less than 24 hours later, administrators created an exception to the policy.

A number of parents, coaches and players said the guns shouldn't be considered weapon, but rather as pieces of equipment, just like a baseball player holding a bat in the team picture.

"I think politically (sic) correctness has gone way overboard. I don't know how else to put it," parent Rick Anderson said.

The athletic director initially offered to have a picture taken showing the team without guns, or asked that a proposal be written explaining why the original should be allowed.

"I want to thank [the administrators] very much, I do. I mean it was awesome. Unfortunate that it had to come to this. I never in a million years wanted it to come to this," Eckerdt said. "I'm hoping that maybe we pave the way for other schools to get their trap picture in it and not have to deal with what I had to."

She added that she was thankful for all the phone calls, emails and messages from supporters which she said came from across the country.

Not only will the photo be allowed in the yearbook, it will be on display in the school.

Trapshooting is one of the fastest-growing high school sports in the state. And being recognized alongside their equipment might be gaining steam as well.

The formal request on a policy amendment was approved by administration on Thursday. Here is the Policy Amendment:

All photos, written text, and artwork must conform to school policies and are subject to approval by the yearbook advisor and/or administration. Photos and artwork that violate school policy, display firearms, weapons, drugs, alcohol, inappropriate gestures or poses, and revealing or obscene clothing may be edited or excluded without permission or notification. Exception given to our school-sponsored trap-shooting team which will be allowed to have team pictures in the yearbook, team poster displayed in the school, and any approved photos taken by yearbook staff. These photos would include their firearms.

"It is important to remember that a school district has rules and procedures that need to be followed," the school district said in a press release.

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