Topeka commencement without first lady will be like others: unmemorable

04/25/2014 5:10 PM

04/27/2014 6:23 PM

I’m sure you’ve heard that first lady Michelle Obama was planning to give a 2014 commencement address to the graduating seniors in Topeka. Her speech would have commemorated the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Topeka Board of Education.

For those who maybe fell asleep during history class, the landmark Supreme Court ruling made education segregation based on race unconstitutional.

To think of all of the commencement speeches Mrs. Obama could have picked in the country and she choose our great state of Kansas. What a wait? A petition was started that received 1,750 signatures to prevent Mrs. Obama from speaking. What the heck? Are you kidding me? What’s the problem? Did I mention it’s the first lady?

Evidently, students and parents were so upset at the thought of reducing the number of tickets that each family would receive. Based on the petition, the first lady changed her mind and decided to speak at the Senior Day Event instead of the graduation.

To think that each graduate would only get four tickets for a chance to have the first lady speak at the graduation. Listen up graduates. I applaud your activism. Trust me, I’ve signed many petitions in my life.

But here’s the deal. You created a stir for the four people who wouldn’t get to come to your graduation, and those people aren't exactly crying about it.

Can I be blunt Topeka seniors? Graduating high school is a wonderful accomplishment and a huge milestone in your life. I’m not taking anything away from your success.

But let’s be honest. How many adults reading this can even recall who spoke at their high school graduation? Here’s what I remember about my big day.

I remember being in the auditorium dying from heat. The heat caused my overly processed permed hair to frizz, and I was freaking out.

It was 1990. Don't judge about the hair. That’s all I remember.

Hang on. I called five people over age 30 to see whether anyone could remember who spoke at their graduation to make sure it isn't just me.

No one I quizzed could remember who spoke at the graduation. Why? No kiddos, it’s not because our memories are fading as we age. It’s because it’s just not that memorable.

Who would have missed your graduation if you only got four tickets? First, you have your younger sister who is sitting there bored out of her mind.

Dad gives her his iPhone to keep her quiet, and she spends the next hour at your graduation playing Candy Crush. Your older brother ends up taking an hour of selfies and posting them on twitter with the hashtag #boredgraduation2014.

Everyone sits and waits for hours for your two minutes to walk across the stage. Those two minutes are amazing, but then it’s over.

You get your diploma and put itput it.... Where the heck is mine? I’ll have to check that box in storage.

To think that you could have had a memorable commencement speaker and you passed it up. Think about 30 years from now when you can’t find your diploma, and all you have are your brother’s selfies to commemorate the day.

Ask yourself, was signing that petition really the right thing to do? One thing is for sure, you can consider yourself lucky to join the massive club of people who can’t remember who spoke at their high school graduation.

Well done Topeka.


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