Barack Obama’s daughter Malia set to graduate from high school

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WASHINGTON – A milestone has arrived for President Barack Obama: Daughter Malia is graduating from high school.

The 17-year-old is receiving her diploma from the private Sidwell Friends School on Friday. Malia Obama was just 10 years old and longing for a promised puppy when her family moved into the White House. During seven years of growing up in the public eye, she has gotten and shed braces, learned to drive and even spent brief stints away from her family.


Presidents are parents, too, and it hasn’t been easy for Obama to watch as his daughter – “one of my best friends” – has grown up fast, and in front of the world.

“I’m not going to talk about the fact that my daughter leaving me is just breaking my heart,” he said last week.

READ MORE: Where Obama and his family will live after they leave the White House

Months ago, the president blamed his emotions for declining an invitation to deliver the commencement address at the elite school where Malia is among 127 members of the Class of 2016. Younger sister Sasha, who turned 15 on Friday, attends Sidwell, too.

What’s next? Malia is taking a year for herself before enrolling at Harvard in the fall of 2017.

FILE – In this Jan. 4, 2015 file photo, President Barack Obama, with his daughter Malia Obama, waves as they arrive at the White House in Washington.

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Neither Obama nor his wife, Michelle, has said what Malia has on tap for her “gap year.” But delaying the start of college could keep her close to her tight-knit family as it prepares for another big transition next year: the end of Obama’s ground-breaking presidency. The Obamas plan to stick around Washington for several years after the president leaves office so Sasha can finish high school here.

Both parents often praise Malia and her sister for being normal, happy kids despite living lives that are anything but normal.

Start with calling the White House home. They were the youngest kids to do so since President John F. Kennedy’s children, Caroline and John Jr., and they were trailed in public by Secret Service agents. Obama has joked that it was comforting to know that when his girls were out and about they were being watched over by “men with guns.”

READ MORE: Taking time off after high school: What to know about a gap year

Malia has travelled to Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean with her parents, and taken a school trip to Mexico. She’s met celebrities and high-powered people, including two popes.

Malia Obama is seen giving her sister, Sasha, a thumbs-up during a brief encounter with Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds.

Pete Souza/White House

Malia Obama, right, next to actress Sandra Oh, left, listens as her father, President Barack Obama, receives a toast from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a State Dinner in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Malia Obama sits next to actress Sandra Oh during the State Dinner in honour of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House in Washington on March 10, 2016.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

FILE – In a Thursday, April 7, 2016 file photo, President Barack Obama jokes with his daughter Malia Obama as they walk to board Air Force One from the Marine One helicopter, as they leave Chicago en route to Los Angeles. The White House announced Sunday, May 1, 2016, that Malia Obama will take a year off after high school and attend Harvard University in 2017. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

In this April 8, 2016, file photo, President Barack Obama and his daughter Malia walk from Marine One toward Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport. Malia is taking a year off after graduating from high school before attending Harvard University as part of an expanding program for students known as a “gap year.”

AP Photo/Nick Ut, File

U.S. President Barack Obama, center, with his first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha and first lady’s mother Marian Robinson, take a walking tour of Old Havana in the rain, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in Havana, Cuba. Obama became the first U.S. president to visit the island in nearly 90 years. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

FILE – In this March 7, 2015 file photo, President Barack Obama and Malia Obama arrive at Air Force One at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. Some teenagers get driving lessons from their parents. Other teens are taught by licensed instructors. But Malia Obama isn’t your average 16-year-old: Her driving lessons were provided by the U.S. Secret Service. That’s what Malia’s mother, Michelle Obama, tells celebrity chef and daytime talk-show host Rachael Ray in an interview scheduled to air Thursday. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

Malia Obama, left, and sister Sasha Obama laugh together as they leave a speech by their father President Barack Obama at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” a landmark event of the civil rights movement, Saturday, March 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

U.S. President Barack Obama, left, shops with his daughters, Sasha, center, and Malia, at Politics and Prose bookstore for “Small Business Saturday,” on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in Washington.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Barack Obama, joined by his daughters Malia, right, and Sasha, centre, speaks at the White House during the presidential turkey pardon ceremony Nov. 26, 2014.

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File

Malia (R) and Sasha Obama listen to their father U.S. President Barack Obama speak before pardoning 'Cheese' and his alternate Mac both, 20-week old 48-pound during a ceremony at the White House November 26, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Malia (R) and Sasha Obama listen to their father U.S. President Barack Obama speak before pardoning ‘Cheese’ and his alternate Mac both, 20-week old 48-pound during a ceremony at the White House November 26, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

FILE – In this Oct. 27, 2013, file photo, President Barack Obama, second from left, with first lady Michelle Obama, right, and their daughters Malia, left, and Sasha, walk from the White House in Washington to attend a church service.

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File

FILE – This Nov. 27, 2013 file photo shows President Barack Obama’s daughter Malia at the White House in Washington.

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

The first lady has said her daughter wants to be a filmmaker. Malia has had summer internships on the New York set of HBO’s “Girls” and in Los Angeles on a CBS sci-fi drama, since cancelled, that starred Halle Berry. The experiences allowed her to sample life on her own, though not outside the reach of her Secret Service protectors.

Three months into her new White House life, Malia got the long-awaited puppy: Bo, a Portuguese water dog that was less likely than other breeds to aggravate her allergies. Obama had promised his kids a dog after the November 2008 election.

The Presidential dogs Bo, left, and Sunny, are walked by a handler on the South Lawn of the White House. The Portuguese water dogs are the Obama family pets.

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File

The young girl whose swing set still sits just outside the Oval Office is now taller than her 6-foot-1 dad, and turns heads whenever she’s spotted around town – including driving her car.

READ MORE: Malia Obama to take gap year before starting university at Harvard

At school, Malia played soccer and tennis, the flute and piano. In a house with 132 rooms, she opted not to share one with her sister. Both girls get themselves up early every day to get ready for school, the first lady has said. They also make their own beds and handle their laundry.

Braces appeared when Malia was 12. Secret Service agents taught her how to drive.

Malia turns 18 on July 4, in time to cast her first vote for president – and for her father’s successor.

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