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Neodesha senior's project causes stir - KOAM TV 7

Neodesha senior's project causes stir

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NEODESHA, KANSAS -

All seniors at Neodesha High School have to complete a senior project. Originally, Maggie Wittum's project involved bringing a speaker to campus.

Word got out recently that she was bringing a well-known pro-life speaker to school for her project. Wittum, with the help of friends and family, raised $5,000 to cover the speaker's price-tag.

"I sold cookies, I sold 2,000 cookies to the community here and 266 t-shirts so everyone has been very supportive," Wittum said.

Members of the community and namely, NHS parents began to contact school administrators in protest of Wittum's project.

"Last week there was just some complaints about the topic and it being during school hours and I think people didn't know it was optional and people thought it was religious. So there was just some confusion," Wittum said.

We reached out to several of the parents but to no avail, all citing that it would cause problems for their child in school.

Wittum's project was threatened.

Sixty people showed up to the USD 461 school board's special session at noon on Monday to approve or reject Wittum's project.

"Well initially the project was approved for school hours on school property. And then the school board was aware of that and rescinded any prior decisions," Don Potter, superintendent of USD 461 said.

Three board members had to phone in their vote. After a 50-minute executive session, the board will allow Wittum to present her speaker. However, it has to take place off campus and will require a permission slip for 9th-12th graders who want to attend.

"I wish it could have been at the school but I'm glad we get to have it, regardless," Wittum said.

Though the topic is heated, Potter was proud that so many people, including students, showed up to rally for their beliefs.

"We have a great passionate community and I'm very thankful for that," Potter said.

The board will begin to restructure protocol for how senior projects are approved. Months ago, a senior project committee approved Wittum's initial plan.

Wittum is thankful for the support, even in controversy.

"Because of all this even if it would have got canceled, there's so much talk about it now and it's all over Facebook and I think our community is a lot more aware of it now than if there would have been no cancellation in the first place," Wittum said.

Namely, Wittum's video plea on Facebook that has garnered over 6,000 views.

Wittum will be bringing Abby Johnson, former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic to town. Johnson has had two abortions herself.

"She knows what it's like to go through that and work in that kind of place and she's just sharing her story and I wanted to share that with my school and community," Wittum said.

Wittum will present her project at the Neodesha Civic Center on Wednesday at 2 p.m. 
 

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