Seniors at Washington High School in the KCK School District are upset with cutbacks in their graduation perks.
Students were passing out fliers and demanding district officials explain how the $50 senior fee is being used since so many perks have been cut back.
As students congregated in the main hallway, teachers and staff tried to break them up. The gathering became rowdy and police were called out.
Some students say there was a threat to use pepper spray on the unhappy students, but district officials say that threat was never made.
"We just want to be heard," senior Angel Craig said. "It's really unjust what they did to us."
Students say the graduation ceremony is being cut from two hours to one hour, a teacher appreciation walk and talent show eliminated and the senior picnic was scaled back. Students are especially upset because the graduation ceremony has a strict business formal wear. Students say many seniors come from "a poverty-stricken community" and cannot afford formal wear.
"This feels like a slap in the face (after) 13 years of hard work," the flier states. "It's sad."
As a result of the protest, the principal agreed to meet with the students.
Senior Ebony Germany is among those opposed to a curtailed graduation ceremony. Students say they want the chance like other senior classes did to honor teachers and give them hugs and special moments.
"This is my senior year and I don't want to have an hour-long rushed graduation," Germany said. "That's something I value."
District spokesman David Smith said emotions were high but that district officials will work with students to reach a resolution.
"Part of our job is to help young people find their voice and do it in a way that's appropriate," Smith said.
The resolution could include restoration of all the items that seniors were expecting and looking forward to.
The school is in the 7300 block of Leavenworth Road.
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