Some displeased with First Lady’s plan to deliver Topeka commencement address

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

TOPEKA, Kan. -- First Lady Michelle Obama will be the commencement speaker at Topeka's high school graduation ceremony. Mrs. Obama’s visit coincides with the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision to end school segregation.

While some say it's an honor to have Mrs. Obama come to Topeka, not everyone is excited.

Normally Topeka's five high schools have separate graduation ceremonies, but this year with the First Lady giving the commencement address, the graduations will be combined and held at the Kansas ExpoCentre. Some students and parents say Mrs. Obama's plans have forced them to change their graduation plans.

Topeka school superintendent Dr. Julie Ford said news of the First Lady speaking at the graduation has required the district to do things, but she also said the graduation will be memorable.

“Do you remember your high school speaker at graduation and what their message was, who they were? This is a terrific opportunity for our students,” Dr. Ford said.

But everyone in the community isn't excited about the consolidated graduation.

“Our graduation was originally to be at 4:30 in the afternoon, now it's going to be at 1 o'clock. People have planned parties, they have family traveling in. A lot of people's plans are ruined by the sheer fact that the time has changed,” said mom Lisa Anderson who is also a PTO member.

One student is so upset about the time change and how long the graduation ceremony will last, she started an online petition to get the district to keep the graduation ceremonies separate,  but the superintendent said that won't happen. However, Dr. Ford says accommodations will be made to maintain traditions from each school and recognize seniors.

“They will all walk and they will all receive their diplomas that day. There was never any questions that they wouldn't walk,” she said.

Dr. Ford said in the past there was unlimited seating at graduations, but with the combined ceremonies students will get seven tickets and possibly more if other seniors turn in tickets they don't need.

She also said the ceremony will be live streamed on the district's website. In addition to the time change and seating, some parents are concerned the Kansas ExpoCentre doesn't have enough parking spaces.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


  • Mel

    What individual(s) made this unfortunate decision? Surely the idea originated with someone The skies didn’t just open up with a loud booming voice. It was a bad idea on so many levels Graduations are supposed to be for the kids and their families. Not for the “eduators” and/or school board.

  • cindy

    They really knew how to get the seniors worked up. First they call them in the cafeteria to tell them of the great news, then when they went back to class, they announce over the intercom that they were having all 5 schools in one ceremony. While it is a great honor to have Mrs. Obama there, it’s been an inconvenience of limiting seating, invitations that are already paid for, which we won’t get reimbursed for that either. They knew since January about this and waiting till exactly a month from graduation day to announce this. Ford along with the other school board members did NOT think this through. It’s a perfect political opportunity to gain for them. It’;s not about them, it’s about our kids! The petition was for to have each ceremony separate and have Mrs Obama video record the speech and have it all ceremonies. 4-7 tickets is NOT enough for us. They know this. They just want the rest of the seating for all the government officials, their families, school board officials and their families. No longer a 2-2.5 hr ceremony, it is now up to 8 hrs or more!

  • Greg

    Are you kidding? This has ruined graduation by changing the time back a few hours? How difficult is it to pick up the phone to call your family and tell them about the change and the exciting news of this new speaker? It is OK not to like the Obamas but please keep your drama levels in check.

  • kat baloo

    I graduated from high school 35 years ago and my high school graduation was actually rescheduled to a completely different day at a different time because the facility decided it was more important to host a boxing event. I’m still alive…I didn’t die…and I’m a successful adult today. I guess the most appropriate thing to say here is #firstworldprobs

  • Chris

    I would not want this woman telling my kids anything, I hope and pray that God will give those in attendance discernment. Don’t forget who this woman’s husband is. And if you think everything is hunky dory you need discernment big time. Like God’s Word instructs “Be not decieved”

  • Sheila Baker

    you are loosing the closeness of a high school and the personal tone of each student by combining the ceremonies. this is the seniors time. let them vote and decide if they want to combine. the best speaker i ever heard at a graduation was a local pastor. and he didn’t make it a sermon. it was for the kids and aimed at them.

  • Justin

    Don’t blame Mrs. Obama for any inconvenience. She didn’t invite herself to the ceremony. People should be excited that she is attending and for those who don’t like her, stay home, put your head between your legs and breath some not so fresh air.

  • Chris Bentley

    What an honor to have the First Lady of the United States give your commencement speech! Anyone with any patriotism at all would be thrilled to have this event take place at their graduation. I am sorry to see that many people in Topeka apparently do not love our country enough to show simple honor and respect to our First Lady. Where is your patriotism? Where is your shame?

  • Phyllis Cotton

    I’m sure she did not invite herself to the desalet state of Ks. where so many republicans reside. I’m sure there are other things she could be doing and not have to put up with all the whining. I bet if it was Mrs. Bush there wouldn’t be all of this ranting and raving. Chill out and have a little respect.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.