A private school took first and second graders to a gun range — and now it’s in trouble

A private school took first and second graders to a gun range — and now it’s in trouble
A private school in Georgia is feeling the heat after taking first and second graders to a gun range. (Screenshot/WSB-TV)

Georgia state officials launched an investigation into Holdheide Academy after a school field trip to a local gun range sparked controversy. During the investigation, it was determined that the school was improperly licensed to run a pre-K program, which resulted in a cease and desist letter, KCPQ-TV reported.

About the trip

According to Holdheide Academy’s owner, Tammy Dorsten, the first and second graders were taken to Hi-Caliber firearms range on Friday to learn about Annie Oakley, an American sharpshooter from the early 1900s. The gun range had an 1894 rifle, similar to what Oakley would have used during her matches, which students were allowed to handle, WSB-TV reported.

“The field trip began with a safety class on what to do if the students ever saw these types of artifacts outside of the cases that they were in, or without an adult present,” Dorsten told WMAZ-TV. “The students were able to see the distances that Annie Oakley used when selecting her targets and the presentation made it very clear why Annie Oakley was a famous individual and someone whom we are still learning about over 123 years later.”

Before taking students on the field trip, parents had to sign permission slips.

“This was a wonderful educational experience for our students,” Dorsten told WMAZ.  “Annie Oakley is a part of our Georgia Approved curriculum encompassing Annie Oakley, Davy Crockett and Pecos Bill. Our goal was to show the students how difficult it was for Annie Oakley and others to accomplish all that they did.”

Social media sharing

Holdheide Academy posted pictures of students posing with guns at the range, which sparked controversy. One image, in particular, caused concern because the child appeared to have their finger on the trigger, KCPQ reported.

The school removed the pictures and made a post on Saturday further explaining the incident.

“This WAS NOT a lesson on guns,” the school said in its Saturday Facebook post. “The only guns that were shown were a 1894 Winchester rifle and a 6 shooter from the same era.”

The investigation

The Georiga Department of Early Care and Learning Commission on Friday launched an investigation into the school after learning about the images on Facebook.

DECAL’s investigation discovered that the school “was caring for pre-school aged children in an unlicensed space mean for a private school,” which caused them to implement the cease and detest order on Tuesday, WMAZ reported.

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