Thursday night’s meeting of the Milwaukee Public School Board had a very different feel. Oh sure, the board of directors was in place. The smattering of advocates for various issues of curriculum and budget were in place. The reporters were there. Also on hand, though, were roughly 75 valedictorians and salutatorians for a special ceremony in their honor.
At the start of the meeting, each of those outstanding students was called to the stage for a collective round of applause. They are the best of the best and the MPS Board wanted to take a moment to recognize that fact.
Robert Arce, a fresh-faced senior from Audubon High School, was thrilled to be recognized. He’s still finalizing the speech he will give at his upcoming graduation, and he admits he’ll likely have butterflies in his belly when he addresses his classmates.
“I want to thank every single teacher,” he said. “I want to talk about some of the lessons and values that they taught me along the way.”
Arce's mother expects she’ll cry when her Marquette-bound son speaks at graduation. The young man has earned a full scholarship.
“It’s a big surprise for me,” said Gloria Verumen as tears welled up in her dark eyes. “I’m so proud. I don’t have words to describe how I feel.”
Alexus Edwards already delivered her commencement address. That weight lifted, she was able to relax and enjoy Thursday night’s proceedings. The Ronald Reagan High graduate is heading off the UW-Madison.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” she said when asked about becoming a class valedictorian. “I think, not just for us valedictorians but for our families to see us up there on stage to be honored by these people who are high-ranking in MPS.”
As if on cue, her mother appeared to back up that sentiment.
“I am most definitely proud of her,” said Lisa Garlie as she waited for the board meeting to get underway. “It’s been a long, hard 18 years, but I’m very proud of her accomplishments.”
That pride now doubt shared by the many moms and dads in attendance with their bright-eyed children moving on to the hallowed halls of higher education.