Senior student barred from Christian school's graduation because she's pregnant
01:15, May 25, 2017
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Maddi Runkles, a high school senior at The Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Md., will not be permitted to attend graduation with her peers on June 2 because her school says she broke their code of conduct by having premarital sex.
Maddi felt wrongly represented, despite her honesty, and abandoned by the principles the school faculty had professed. According to Life News, the school officials also insisted that she finish the rest of her classes at home. "Because she chose to carry her child and courageously made that decision, she's been punished this entire semester for being pregnant, and that's just wrong". "And I never thought that I would consider it, but it was just the fear and what I've seen girls like me go through". "Did you think, 'I could have an abortion?'" she asked the teenager.
"It's like a small school and it is such a big deal and I am the only one that is not going to be there that night to walk to the stage", Runkles said.
Maddi is doing her part to try to make the world a better place for future women in her area put in the same position by starting a chapter of Embrace Grace, a program aimed at helping and supporting single pregnant women. Runkles' father ultimately resigned from the board, angry about how his daughter was treated.
Runkles' parents and classmates, together with several others, asked Hobbs to let the pregnant teen continue her classes in school and graduate. "She made the courageous decision to choose life, and she definitely should not be shamed", Kristan Hawkins, the Students for Life president", told the Times.
"I believe that every situation should be evaluated individually", said Principal Dave Hobbs. She decided against it, and says the punishment she now faces isn't fair, reports CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford. The baby's father doesn't attend Heritage Academy, Runkles said.
While she feels that her experience at Heritage has been ruined, Runkles says she is grateful for the support from her family and the Baptist church she belongs to in Frederick.
"By banning her and her alone, the administration and board collectively decided to make a public example of one student and has either intentionally or unintentionally communicated to the school community that pregnancy (not simply premarital sex) is a shame and should not be observed within our school community", Hawkins said. "Some people are upset because they think I'm out to get the school, but I'm not". She's been on the receiving end of cruel comments online by both students and parents, she said. "I just want them to do the right thing". In revealing she was pregnant, Runkles in turn revealed she'd broken the conditions of the pledge.
"You can't be pro-life, but then refuse to support the girl that keeps her baby", she said.
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