MPS seniors return to class; board vote brings back graduation

Milwaukee Public Schools seniors who opted in for in-person learning will head back to class Monday morning, April 26, where they'll walk the halls for the first time in more than one year. It marks the final phase of the district's in-person learning rollout.

Nearly two weeks ago, K-3 through third-graders traded their virtual classrooms for real ones and on Monday, April 19, fourth- through eighth-grade students took their turn.

On Monday, April 26, students in grades 9, 10 and 11 at risk of failing and high school seniors will round out the district's rollout plan. 

"Class starts at 8:05. I usually get up at 7:50," said Rebecca Gilpatric, Rufus King High School senior.

It's a virtual learning routine Gilpatric has grown accustomed to. 

Milwaukee Public Schools MPS

"I think it's been difficult," said Gilpatric.

Gilpatric said she looks forward to closing the book on it starting Monday when she returns to the classroom; the Rufus King High School senior reflecting on the last year. 

"When we left on that Friday, we didn't know that we would never be coming back," said Gilpatric.

Rebecca Gilpatric

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A member of the swim team, a mathlete and president of the Science National Honor Society, the finale to her high school career hasn't been what she always thought it would be. 

"I mean, we didn't get a prom or senior year homecoming," she said. "It's a little sad, but I understand." 

Still, she said she is grateful to finish on a high note. 

"I'm glad we'll have this last chance to see everybody and have a little bit of normalcy of high school back," said Gilpatric.

Another 'dose' of normalcy will return this spring. Passed unanimously by the school board on Thursday, April 22, high school graduation ceremonies will be held for the Class of 2021. The district's 16 largest classes will toss their caps in the air at UWM Panther Arena. It will cost MPS roughly $146,000.

"June 1st through the 4th," said Dr. Jennifer Smith, regional superintendent for the high school region. "There will be four ceremonies held per day. The ceremonies are spread out throughout the day to allow a one-hour ceremony with cleaning time in between."

Smaller high schools are slated to walk the stage at North Division High School on June 1 and June 2.

"This is such an important rite of passage and I'm just so happy we can do it for our students and do it safely," said Megan O'Halloran, board member.

MPS Superintendent Keith Posley said the district is also looking into holding eighth-grade completion ceremonies for students.

FOX6 News reached out to the teachers union for this story, but MTEA was not able to provide anyone for an interview Sunday, April 25.

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