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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Kansas speech by Michelle Obama draws complaints

Posted by on Apr. 19, 2014 at 10:26 PM
  • 252 Replies
1 mom liked this


TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — If expanding the guest list to include Michelle Obama at graduation for high school students in the Kansas capital city means fewer seats for friends and family, some students and their parents would prefer the first lady not attend.

A furor over what the Topeka school district considers an honor has erupted after plans were announced for Obama to address a combined graduation ceremony for five area high schools next month an 8,000-seat arena. For some, it was the prospect of a tight limit on the number of seats allotted to each graduate. For others, it was the notion that Obama's speech, tied to the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing segregation in schools, would overshadow the student's big day.

"I'm a single mother who has raised him for 18 years by myself," said Tina Hernandez, parent of Topeka High School senior Dauby Knight. "I've told him education is the only way out. This is one of the biggest days of their lives. They've taken the glory and shine from the children and put on Mrs. Obama. She doesn't know our kids."

Hernandez was among the parents and students who spoke Thursday at a school board meeting and urged district officials to reconsider their decision to invite Obama. Ron Harbaugh, spokesman for the Topeka school district, said Friday discussions were under way to work out the logistics and planning for the event, including how many tickets each family would be allotted.

"We will have a clearer picture of what's going on," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh said officials asked the president or first lady to speak at graduation as a tie-in with the anniversary of the Brown decision, which outlawed school segregation. The district plans to place a priority on seating students and their families, and could broadcast the event to an overflow room at a hotel adjacent to the graduation arena for those unable to find a seat inside.

That's not good enough for Taylor Gifford, 18, who started an online petition Thursday evening to urge the district to reconsider its plans. She and the more than 1,200 people who had signed it expressed concern that Obama's visit would limit the seating options for family and friends.

"I really would like it to have a peaceful solution, but there is so much misinformation going on," Gifford said.

Gifford said her initial reaction to the news was excitement, saying she was "freaking out" about the prospect of the first lady speaking at graduation. When rumors of limited tickets surfaced, Gifford felt like the focus was being shifted from the students to Obama.

"People think it's a great opportunity, but it's the graduates' time. They are getting that diploma that they worked so hard for," Gifford said. "Families are feeling that they are being cheated out of the loved ones special day."

Abbey Rubottom, 18, a Topeka High senior, described herself as a "die-hard Democrat" but doesn't like the idea of Obama sharing the stage with graduates.

"No disrespect for the first lady, and it's amazing that she wants to come speak, I just think it doesn't belong at graduation," Rubottom said.

Rubottom suggested separate ceremonies with Obama speaking at one and the address being replayed at the other.

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.

The Brown site is housed in a former all-black school where the lead plaintiff's daughter and another plaintiff's child in the desegregation case were students. It tells the story of the 1954 Supreme Court decision.

Messages seeking comment from the first lady's office in Washington were not immediately returned Friday.

http://news.yahoo.com/kansas-speech-michelle-obama-draws-complaints-144546090.html


by on Apr. 19, 2014 at 10:26 PM
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Replies (1-10):
FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Apr. 19, 2014 at 10:40 PM
11 moms liked this

This doesn't surprise me.

If the speaker was someone they liked they would have no issues.

Someone, some where, is always going to complain.

LiveinJoy
by on Apr. 19, 2014 at 11:29 PM
This reminds me of when Oprah crashed weddings to gift the couple. Her presence almost always overshadowed the couple.
lga1965
by on Apr. 19, 2014 at 11:42 PM
6 moms liked this

 If I was graduating, I would be thrilled if the First Lady--any First Lady--came to my high school to speak at graduation. Didn't someone ( a student) ask her to speak and she agreed? I'm thinking that is what happened. Or not. But it would be memorable.

EDit: The school district asked. I think it would be wonderful.

Mommy_of_Riley
by Jes on Apr. 20, 2014 at 12:26 AM
1 mom liked this
I think it would be neat to have that memory on your graduation but if her arrival means some people's family members lose their seats then I don't agree...
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turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Apr. 20, 2014 at 12:27 AM
5 moms liked this

how many seats is she going to take for heavens sake?  How many seats are usually allocated to family of the student?

Isnt this a one off?  joining the high schools.  I mean personally how wonderful is it going to be if there are 2 thousand kids graduating.  What if you are the family that has the seats right at the back of the arena....how special is that going to feel

FFS these people should just have their own little graduation where snowflake can reign supreme!

Would I want my kids to share their graduation with a President or First Lady.....hell yeah.


Mommy_of_Riley
by Jes on Apr. 20, 2014 at 12:36 AM
From the news article it says she would have a security team and some empty rows between her and the students. So if were talking rows (at a typical graduation that size) I'm guessing 20 seats per row so 60 seats or so?

Quoting turtle68:

how many seats is she going to take for heavens sake?  How many seats are usually allocated to family of the student?

Isnt this a one off?  joining the high schools.  I mean personally how wonderful is it going to be if there are 2 thousand kids graduating.  What if you are the family that has the seats right at the back of the arena....how special is that going to feel

FFS these people should just have their own little graduation where snowflake can reign supreme!

Would I want my kids to share their graduation with a President or First Lady.....hell yeah.

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Apr. 20, 2014 at 12:38 AM

wow that is a lot.

Are arenas that hold 8000 usual for a graduation?  ....how many seats would that detract from the family pool.....less than one?  So how many are allowed to attend a normal graduation?

Quoting Mommy_of_Riley: From the news article it says she would have a security team and some empty rows between her and the students. So if were talking rows (at a typical graduation that size) I'm guessing 20 seats per row so 60 seats or so?
Quoting turtle68:

how many seats is she going to take for heavens sake?  How many seats are usually allocated to family of the student?

Isnt this a one off?  joining the high schools.  I mean personally how wonderful is it going to be if there are 2 thousand kids graduating.  What if you are the family that has the seats right at the back of the arena....how special is that going to feel

FFS these people should just have their own little graduation where snowflake can reign supreme!

Would I want my kids to share their graduation with a President or First Lady.....hell yeah.


Mommy_of_Riley
by Jes on Apr. 20, 2014 at 12:42 AM
1 mom liked this
It all depends on the school district.

At my high school we didn't have a limit on family members. I was in a graduating class of 340.

I have friends in Topeka (I went to college just north of there) so I'd have to ask to see where exactly they are having the graduation at...

I still think it's an honor for those kids but I can see where some would be upset especially if it was your family being asked to give up a seat


Quoting turtle68:

wow that is a lot.

Are arenas that hold 8000 usual for a graduation?  ....how many seats would that detract from the family pool.....less than one?  So how many are allowed to attend a normal graduation?

Quoting Mommy_of_Riley: From the news article it says she would have a security team and some empty rows between her and the students. So if were talking rows (at a typical graduation that size) I'm guessing 20 seats per row so 60 seats or so?

Quoting turtle68:

how many seats is she going to take for heavens sake?  How many seats are usually allocated to family of the student?

Isnt this a one off?  joining the high schools.  I mean personally how wonderful is it going to be if there are 2 thousand kids graduating.  What if you are the family that has the seats right at the back of the arena....how special is that going to feel

FFS these people should just have their own little graduation where snowflake can reign supreme!

Would I want my kids to share their graduation with a President or First Lady.....hell yeah.

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Mommy_of_Riley
by Jes on Apr. 20, 2014 at 12:49 AM
Okay Turtle:

so they are holding it at the Kansas Expocentre. USD 501 says that they have around 1300 students, teachers, & staff.

Since Mrs. Obama is then commencement speaker they are also leaving seats open for "any dignitaries" interested in attending.

Which means each senior is being allowed 6 tickets for their family and friends.
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turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Apr. 20, 2014 at 2:20 AM
3 moms liked this


Quoting Mommy_of_Riley: Okay Turtle: so they are holding it at the Kansas Expocentre. USD 501 says that they have around 1300 students, teachers, & staff. Since Mrs. Obama is then commencement speaker they are also leaving seats open for "any dignitaries" interested in attending. Which means each senior is being allowed 6 tickets for their family and friends.

Is 6 seats not enough?  It seems more than enough ...isnt it?

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