An Everett gun show was scheduled right next to high school graduation ceremonies for the Everett School District at Angel of the Winds Arena. The school district just sent out a notice to parents on Wednesday, sparking outrage from some families.
It had people calling the timing of the event “tone deaf” and “insensitive.”
“It’s awful, really, really bad timing,” said Derrick Bevan, a senior at Mariner High School in Everett.
“Gun show? No,” said Xavier Turner, another senior at Mariner High School. “I would not want to graduate during a gun show,” he said.
On Thursday, the gun show was quickly rescheduled to happen on Sunday and Monday, instead of its original timing of Saturday and Sunday.
At first, it appeared the event couldn’t be moved. In the original letter the Everett School District sent out to families, the district wrote, “We cannot change the overall situation of our events running concurrently.”
The district said it only found out about the gun show after an event planner with the district was doing a final walkthrough for graduation plans, when an arena employee happened to mention it.
“We felt it was important for you to be aware of this event as the topic of guns is sensitive to so many of us due to recent national and even local events,” the district said in the letter. There was just a shots fired incident at Mariner High School’s campus on Monday that sent the school into lockdown.
Notice about the gun show set off a firestorm of upset parents and students contacting the district, the city of Everett, and the arena.
“I have no problem with gun shows happening, I just would prefer for it to not happen during that time. I just think it’s kind of insensitive to the trauma that these kids have certainly endured,” said parent Addie Smith. Her student is part of the high school band and would be attending graduation. She said he was “flabbergasted” to hear about the gun show happening in the same building.
In the letter, the district said it was planning to have students walk through a different entrance to avoid the gun show.
KIRO7 reached out to Big Top Promotions, organizers for the event. A spokesperson said after hearing about the concerns and entrance change, they moved the show dates to Sunday and Monday, saying they didn’t want to be a distraction.
“It’s the least you could do. At least move it,” said Daniel Leslie, a Everett High School student. “It’s almost as if they’re like, ‘what’s the problem?’ Obviously there’s a problem,” Leslie said.
Parents say they are just glad students won’t feel uncomfortable at their graduation.
“Relieved,” Smith said. “If there were enough kids who were shocked and upset by this event happening at the same time as graduation, then we owe it to them to listen and change,” she said.
The district said it books the arena for graduation five years in advance. Big Top Promotions said they reserved the adjacent conference space at the arena about a year and a half out.
Now the only events here on Saturday will be three graduation ceremonies for the Everett School District.