On the last day of Ohio's youth deer-gun weekend in November, 9-year-old Domonique Yatsko took down her first-ever deer — an eight-point buck, the Gazette reported.
This was the first year she got her apprentice license and tags for hunting season, the paper said, adding that the license lets those under age 16 hunt with adult supervision.
“She scouted the deer,” her mother Heidi Yatsko told the paper. “She’s gone out many times and saw very nice deer and didn’t take a shot. She waited until she felt the time was right and when it was the right deer. She did a very good job, and she was very excited."
To celebrate the achievement, a photo of Domonique with the deer was emblazoned on a sweatshirt — and she wore it into Hinckley Elementary School the next day.
Shame on adults for shaming young Ohio hunter. @OutdoorNews https://t.co/NjQrRdPTHe https://t.co/ZSTd632ilx— Outdoor News Web Guy (@Outdoor News Web Guy) 1483555444.0
But that didn't go so well.
When Domonique came home from school, Heidi Yatsko told the paper her daughter threw the sweatshirt in the garbage saying she was “yelled at” by her teacher and told to remove the sweatshirt because “killing animals is not what we do.”
“She was ashamed and belittled in front of everyone in the classroom,” Heidi Yatsko told the Gazette. “She didn’t know what to think. She was so upset.”
So Mom got in touch with Domonique's teacher Hannah Copa, the school's Principal James Carpenter and Highland Local Schools Superintendent Catherine Aukerman about the situation.
“I was looking for an apology for my child, that’s all,” Heidi Yatsko told the paper.
But Aukerman last week told the Gazette she believed the charge that Domonique was “yelled at” is “not accurate.” Aukerman told the paper her understanding is that "several children expressed concerns to the teacher [about the shirt], and the teacher asked the student to step into hallway and take off [the sweatshirt] because it was upsetting to some of the students, and she did.”
Aukerman added to the paper that Domonique "felt that she had been reprimanded and didn’t understand why, and I apologized for that and for any misunderstanding that may have occurred.”
Hunting-related clothing — including camouflage and images of animals — doesn't violate school dress code, the Gazette said. But Aukerman said the reaction to the sweatshirt was the deciding factor.
“We respect the rich tradition of hunting that many students and families share in the community,” she told the paper. “Not every family hunts, and all children have been exposed to the images. But anything that becomes a disruption to classroom we have to take that into consideration.”
The district noted in a statement posted on its website that school officials and the Yatsko family "resolved this issue seven weeks ago. The family is satisfied with the resolution and requests that the matter be closed."
But Heidi Yatsko told Gazette last Thursday that Domonique hasn’t been herself since the incident.
“I think it hurt her more internally,” she told the paper. “The person she grew up to be and the family she’s surrounded by was told it’s wrong.”
More from the Gazette:
Hunting and farming is a family tradition for the Yatsko family, which has more than 200 acres of land. Heidi said their family history in Hinckley goes back to the 1800s.
“It’s the way we grew up and the way they are growing up,” Heidi said, who lives on 5 acres with her husband, George, and four children — Jager, 21; Matthew, 18; Domonique, 9; and Georgie, 8. “We raise and butcher our own livestock.”
To be able to hunt, Heidi said kids help on the farm by raising livestock, planting crops and planting separate fields specifically for wildlife.
Heidi’s father, Don Levandoski, owns 17 acres in Hinckley, and in-laws Gail and George Yatsko own 100 acres in Hinckley and 80 acres in Chatham Township.
“They’re a part of the daily activity,” Heidi said.
Despite her emotional setback, things have improved to the point where Domonique has once again joined the hunt.
“We have finally gotten her to where she will go back out,” Heidi Yatsko told the Gazette. “We’re trying to bring the joy back to go out hunting.”
(H/T: The College Fix)