TOPEKA, Kan. — 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 US 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.”