The owner of a Cherokee County school academy said she has received death threats after social media posts showed two of her second-grade students handling guns on a field trip to a gun range.
Holdheide Academy owner Tammy Dorsten told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Wednesday’s controversial trip to Hi-Caliber Firearms was intended to “enrich” the children, who were learning about Annie Oakley, Bill Pecos and Davy Crockett, per Georgia’s required curriculum.
Dorsten said she got the idea after students at the Woodstock school thought the sharpshooters’ firing skills were simple.
“I wanted to show them it wasn’t easy,” she said.
So, Dorsten called the Canton gun range to set up a visit.
Dorsten said only two students made the trip and their parents signed permission slips: “(They) were very supportive and knew what was going on,” she said.
“It was a wonderful educational experience,” she said.
But not everyone agreed.
By 2 p.m. Friday, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning posted that it had received numerous emails and social media messages concerning the field trip and were investigating if it was in their jurisdiction. DECAL oversees Georgia’s Pre-K, independent and home-based child care centers.
Holdheide Academy runs a preschool for children six weeks old to 5 years old, but Dorsten said only 6- and 7-year-olds were on the trip.
The academy is an accredited preparatory preschool and modern Montessori school, according to its website.
Dorsten said she had spoken to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools about the trip. The AJC reached out to SACS for comment Friday evening.
Dorsten said the children took a gun safety class at the range and held an unloaded gun to feel the weight of it. They were also able to hold bullets and see how far a gun shoots.
“If parents want to teach their children about gun safety, that’s their prerogative,” she said.
Dorsten said she’s glad the children were able to experience the trip: “I showed them a piece of living history.”
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