Graduation is supposed to be a joyous occasion for high school students. Especially students like Maddi Runkles who worked hard and were actively involved throughout their high school career.
Runkles had excellent grades, was president of the student council, and played on the school soccer team, and yet she is banned from walking at her graduation ceremony on June 2. Not letting her walk is the way her high school, a private Christian school in Maryland called Heritage Academy, is punishing her for what they call "immoral" behavior. Runkles is pregnant, which means that she had sex and thus broke the conditions of a pledge all Heritage Academy students sign in which they promise to abstain from "sexually immoral" behavior.
Fear of what would happen when she revealed she was pregnant caused Runkles to consider terminating her pregnancy even though it goes against her beliefs, Cosmopolitan reports.
"I never thought that I would consider [an abortion] but it's just the fear of what I've seen girls like me go through," Runkles told CBS.
When she chose to carry her baby to term, the school started rolling out the punishments. She was suspended for two days, removed from her position as student council president and finally, banned from walking at her own graduation.
This may have all remained quiet, except the Runkles family sought help from a pro-life, anti-abortion group called Students for Life. The group believes Runkles is being unjustly punished for choosing life.
"She made the courageous decision to choose life, and she definitely should not be shamed," Kristan Hawkins, the Students for Life president, said.
David Hobbs, the principal at the school, has recently spoken out to defend the school's decision despite requests that Runkles be allowed to walk.
"Let me clarify some facts," he wrote in a statement on the Heritage Academy homepage. "Maddi is being disciplined not because she is pregnant, but because she was immoral... Heritage is also pleased that she has chosen not to abort her son. However, her immorality is the original choice she made that began this situation."
He continued, saying, "That night, I want God to be glorified in a dignified manner. Please enable us to do this."
Runkles will still receive her diploma, and she feels strongly that she made the right decision at the end of the day.
"I made the right choice, and in a couple months, I'll have this little sweet reward just to remind me that I did the right thing," Runkles said.
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