TOPEKA, Kan. (CBSDC/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.

“I’m the oldest of eight,” Gifford told The Topeka Capital-Journal. “These are people that have watched me grow up and become the person I am.”

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.

Parents claim they were told that they would only be getting four tickets for the graduation ceremony.

“Four has been talked about, but that could change,” Topeka Unified School District 501 spokesman told Ron Harbaugh told The Capital-Journal.

Parent Tina Hernandez says she is “crushed” about the school limiting tickets because of the first lady’s appearance.

“This is not fair, what it’s doing,” she told The Capital-Journal. “My son is more important than Michelle Obama.”

Gifford says Friday she’s excited about Obama speaking, but hopes concerns about the ceremony can be addressed.


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