TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas high school senior has launched a petition drive urging school officials to rethink their decision to have first lady Michelle Obama speak at graduation next month in Topeka. Taylor Gifford started the drive Thursday evening after concerns were raised by students and parents that Obama's visit would alter graduation plans, including limiting seating for family and friends. The school district announced Thursday that the first lady would speak at a ceremony May 17, the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision that made school segregation unconstitutional. Topeka school officials plan to combine graduation ceremonies and hold them in an 8,000-seat arena. Gifford says Friday she's excited about Obama speaking, but hopes concerns about the ceremony can be addressed.
the following is a previous version of this story:
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some parents in Topeka are upset because there will be a limited number of people allowed to attend a combined high school graduation ceremony at which first lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to speak next month. The school district announced Thursday that the first lady would speak at a ceremony May 17, the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision that made school segregation unconstitutional. The speech would require the district to combine graduation ceremonies of all its high schools and limit the number of people who could attend at an 8,000-seat arena. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that several parents criticized the plan Thursday evening at a school board meeting. Most objected to having to reduce the number of relatives who could see their children graduate. Others said graduation should focus on students and not become a political event.