Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fracus over first lady’s visit to Topeka was short-sighted

4/25/2014

Sometimes people can’t see two inches in front of them or the opportunities staring them in the face.

Such is the case in Topeka, where the school district’s seniors had the opportunity to hear first lady Michelle Obama deliver their commencement address. A Topeka senior posted an online petition that stated the first lady’s appearance would take away from the ceremonies, and the student feared there wouldn’t be room for family members. The district swiftly addressed the latter issue last week, noting that each senior would receive six tickets for family or friends.

Sometimes people can’t see two inches in front of them or the opportunities staring them in the face.

Such is the case in Topeka, where the school district’s seniors had the opportunity to hear first lady Michelle Obama deliver their commencement address. A Topeka senior posted an online petition that stated the first lady’s appearance would take away from the ceremonies, and the student feared there wouldn’t be room for family members. The district swiftly addressed the latter issue last week, noting that each senior would receive six tickets for family or friends.

But it was all for naught. Obama changed her plans this week and instead will speak May 16 at a senior recognition ceremony in Topeka. The White House said the first lady wanted to be sensitive to seniors’ and parents’ concerns, but nevertheless it is disappointing that a handful of people can’t see beyond the nose on their faces.

Anyone who has graduated from high school is well aware that commencements are a nanosecond in a person’s life, given all the ups and downs that will follow. It becomes merely a memory that pales in comparison with the birth of a child, buying a house the first time or the death of a parent.

Forget for a moment that Michelle Obama is a dynamic speaker and might even cause Topeka seniors to be inspired instead of counting the minutes before the graduation parties. This is the first lady of the United States, the first black woman to serve in that capacity. She chose Topeka, the birthplace of Brown v. Board of Education, which ended segregation in schools. And she had chosen to speak May 17 — the 60th anniversary of the historic legislation.

Incredibly, that seems to be lost on a Topeka senior and a small group of others, who evidently weren’t paying attention during history class.

Despite the change in date, Michelle Obama is coming to Topeka. Deal with it and maybe, just maybe, seniors might receive the most valuable lesson of their high school years.

— The Hutchinson News

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