A number of parents and students in Kansas don’t want first lady Michelle Obama to speak at a combined high school graduation ceremony for five area schools.
Hoping for a ceremony that focuses on the graduates, not the speaker, high school senior Taylor Gifford began an online petition asking the School Board to reconsider its plans to have Obama speak, according to media reports.
“I really would like it to have a peaceful solution, but there is so much misinformation going on,” Gifford, 18, told The Associated Press on Friday.
Many worry that the already-limited number of seats available for guests allotted to each graduate will be reduced and the political nature of the first lady’s address will stir controversy, The AP reported, according to a version of the story published in The Wichita Eagle.
Obama reportedly plans to talk about the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education that found segregation unconstitutional.
The AP reported:
Ron Harbaugh, spokesman for the Topeka school district, said officials had been trying to get the president or first lady to speak at graduation as a tie-in with the anniversary. He said meetings were planned Friday with district and high school officials to work out the logistics and planning for the event.
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Some people have said bringing in the first lady politicizes the graduation. Others have suggested that if she wants to mark the Brown anniversary, she could just visit the historic site that commemorates the decision, which is just few blocks from the graduation venue.
Students and parents believe that the graduation ceremony should celebrate the graduates, not the Supreme Court.
Gifford said her initial excitement that the first lady may be addressing the graduates paled when she realized families and friends may have fewer seats available to them.
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