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'It's a big day:' Milwaukee Public School seniors celebrate graduating after 2 years of pandemic

MPS Graduation
Posted at 5:29 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-31 18:29:28-04

MILWAUKEE — Tuesday was the start of the next chapter for seniors at Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) as they walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

Nearly 3,500 MPS seniors from 24 MPS schools will walk across the stage at UWM Panther Arena and Barack Obama School of Career and Technical education.

One by one, Riverside University High School students walked inside Panther Arena for the last time as seniors. Each with their own stories on how they made it to graduation day.

MPS Graduation
Riverside University High School students receive their diplomas during their graduation ceremony.

"There was a lot of times where I was drained, mentally drained, and stressed out, but I really wanted this bad for myself," Orion King said.

King is filled with excitement, but hasn't forgotten the trying times he had.

"When I first heard high school has closed down and we'd have to go virtual, I didn't know how to react," King stated.

He said he had to work even harder through the pandemic and it's safe to say it paid off in a big way as he earned the title of valedictorian.

Milwaukee Public School seniors celebrate graduating

"He's the first Valedictorian in our family," King's father Edmund smiled.

Tuesday was a day of many firsts and excitement for many, including FNU Tahira.

"I feel like I'm holding onto a lot of emotions because it's a big day," Tahira smiled.

Tahira not only earned the title of salutatorian, but did so after moving to Milwaukee from Pakistan in June of 2018.

WATCH: FNU Tahira moved to Milwaukee from Pakistan in 2018. On Tuesday, she graduated from MPS.

Pakistan native graduates from Riverside University High School

"The first year was tough for me, because I was not able to speak English very well," she said.

In four years, she was able to learn English. In four years, she was able to acclimate with American culture. In four years, she was able to make it to graduation.

"After graduation, I'm planning to attend Marquette University and will work towards a bachelor's degree in biomedical sciences," Tahira said.

"I plan to go to UW-Madison and plan to major in computer science," King added.

MPS graduation ceremonies began Tuesday and will run through Friday, June 3.

Ceremonies will start each day at 9 a.m. The full schedule can be found here.

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