Amid complaints about the possibility of limited tickets for friends and families to attend a Topeka high school graduation where Michelle Obama is speaking, the school district announced that graduating seniors will be given up to six tickets each.
Topeka Unified School District 501 spokesman Ron Harbaugh said officials met Friday to determine that graduating seniors would receive up to six tickets each for the joint commencement ceremony scheduled for May 17. That day marks the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s watershed ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that outlawed segregation in schools.
The ceremony will include all five of the district’s high schools, Highland Park High, Topeka High, Topeka West, Capital City and Hope Street Academy.
Some parents and students earlier had expressed concern that the first lady’s speech and limited seating for families would detract from a day that should center on the graduating students and their loved ones. Harbaugh said, however, that the district has also received a lot of positive feedback in response to Obama’s upcoming visit.
“These seniors will probably remember this for the rest of their lives,” Harbaugh said, noting the district is doing its best to accommodate as many people as possible. He said an unspecified number of tickets will be for dignitaries.
“It will probably be kept to a minimum because we want the emphasis on students and families,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh said an estimated 1,300 people will be on the floor of the Kansas Expocentre and nearly 6,500 seats will be available in the regular stands. He said additional seating could be opened if the Secret Service gives the approval.
Each of the schools will give out the tickets to the joint graduation. If a student claims less than his or her allotment of six, Harbaugh said more tickets would then become available for others.