Pregnant Student Being Banned From HS Graduation Highlights Two Competing Values

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Heritage Academy, in western Maryland, banned Maddi Runkles from participating in her graduation ceremony next month.

Maddi felt wrongly represented, despite her honesty, and abandoned by the principles the school faculty had professed.

Her emotional declaration took place in the school auditorium.

Runkles is one of 15 students set to graduate next month, and she'll be the only one to miss the ceremony if the school upholds her punishment.

He noted that all students sign a pledge based on Philippians 4:8 (including language about "whatever is pure") that "extends to my actions, such as protecting my body by abstaining from sexual immorality and from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs". "Did you think, 'I could have an abortion?'" she asked the teenager.

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"Even though we love Maddi, even though we forgive her, there's still accountability", Hobbs said. He resigned from the board once his daughter made the decision to inform the school she was pregnant. But after speaking with her parents, she made a decision to come forward and announce her pregnancy in front of her classmates in the school's auditorium.

She's disappointed in her school, Heritage Academy, "because I'd worked so hard for that...and I made one mistake and all my hard work was being taken away from me". "This is for her", said Heritage Academy principal Dave Hobbs. But by not allowing her to walk at graduation, she feels she is being shamed.

The determination to not let Runkles "walk" when she completes her studies at the Hagerstown school prompted a sharp critique from Students for Life of America, which asked its supporters to urge the school to reverse its decision. They say the school should not punish the 18-year-old for her decision to keep her baby.

The private academy, a non-denominational conservative Christian school in Hagerstown, said Runkles violated the school's code of conduct by engaging in premarital sex.

"When Christian schools respond like this they are promoting abortion", she urged.

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However, Runkles and her family believes the pledge can be interpreted differently.

Runkles says she feels she has been treated more harshly than students who have been suspended for other reasons.

"I did think about abortion for awhile because I was so afraid of what I was going to face, because I was just afraid of what everyone was going to think of me and the family that I come from".

The school officials eventually allowed her to finish her classes in school, but she was still prohibited from attending the graduation with her class. "I just want them to do the right thing".

Mr. Hobbs wanted to announce the news of her pregnancy to her older classmates, but Maddi insisted that she do so herself.

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Still, Runkles isn't holding her breath waiting for the school to reconsider.

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