Maddi Runkles is still a high school senior, at least for a few more days. Like most seniors, the year was supposed to end in a climactic celebration of transition. Runkles, though, won’t be allowed to don the cap and gown and walk with her friends. She will miss the pomp of graduation becasue her school feels that she has set a bad example by getting pregnant.
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Let’s set aside the questions surrounding how Runkles ended up in this situation. Such things happen. And the private Christian school in Maryland where Runkles is a student has clear prohibitions against sexual relations. Accordingly, Runkles was punished. The graduation ban is extra.
“That is everything I worked for and that’s the night to acknowledge it,” she told Today. “Graduation is a very big deal and I’ll be the only one not there to celebrate it with my friends.”
She thought the punishment was finished with a two day suspension. She was also stripped of her role as student council president. But to deny the straight-A student the right to walk at graduation?
Heritage Academy principal David Hobbs wrote a letter to parents this week and declared that the “best way to love her right now is to hold her accountable for her morality.”
“Let me clarify some facts. Maddi is being disciplined, not because she’s pregnant, but because she was immoral,” Hobbs wrote.
Pro-life supporters of Runkles are celebrating her decision to keep the baby. That, they note, is the moral thing to do. “The school is afraid of what this looks like, that they have a pregnant student,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.
And Runkles seems to be rising to her new leadership role. “My principal told me he wanted to hold an assembly to tell people what had happened, and I told him I’d prefer if I could speak to them and have it come from me rather than him,” she said.
Heritage isn’t happy about the media attention it is receiving. They released a statement to NBC that attempted to explain their decision.
“Please tell America that we are not disciplining Maddi because she chose to keep her baby boy. For that we commend her,” it read.
“It’s hard not to think of them as hypocrites because they promote life so much,” Runkles noted. “But then when you make the right choice and choose life, they don’t want anything to do with you.”