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Pregnant Teenager reportedly barred from High School Graduation



BellaNaija - Pregnant Teenager reportedly barred from High School Graduation

Despite public outcry and growing pressure from national arbitration groups, a small Christian school Heritage Academy in West Maryland is sticking to their guns on barring a pregnant senior from walking at her graduation next week.

According to The Washington Post, the student Maddi Runkles was cited by the school as having broken their rules on engagement in intimate sexual activity. The school principal David R. Hobbs in a letter to the parents said that Runkles is being disciplined, “not because she is pregnant but because she was immoral. … The best way to love her right now is to hold her accountable for her morality that began this situation.”

Runkles said in a telephone interview:

It’s because I’m pregnant and you can see the results of my mistake. There have been kids who have broken the student code and they could have hurt people or even gone to jail and they only received an in-school suspension and they’re allowed to walk this year. The school is worried about its reputation, but I think they’re missing out on an incredible opportunity to set an example for the pro-life community and Christian schools about how to treat guys and girls like me.

Runkles, 18, is a 4.0 student who has attended the school since 2009. She found out she was pregnant in January and informed the school, where her father was then a board member, in February. Initially the school told Runkles that she would be suspended and removed from her role as student council president and would have to finish the rest of the school year at home.

After the family appealed, Heritage said it would allow Runkles to finish the school year with her 14 classmates but she would not be able to walk with the other seniors to receive her diploma at graduation. The family believes that the decision is unfair and that she is being punished more harshly than others who have broken the rules.

Photo Credit: CBS News


  1. Asa

    May 25, 2017 at 11:17 am

    They expelled my classmate back at Secondary School for getting pregnant. We were in SS1 then. There were no appeals, no negotiations, she was just expelled and that was that. Did she graduate? I don’t know o, if she did, it was not from my School.

    We were so much younger then, we were maybe 14, she probably knew next to nothing about sex, she most likely did not enjoy the experience, did not know how to take care of herself or monitor her cycle and all. She was really a poor innocent back then. I did not know these things back then either.

    Not attending graduation is really a small price to pay for mistakes or conscious decisions. My classmate’s price was the ultimate price. Really sad especially since she was just a naive child.

    • Spirit

      May 25, 2017 at 11:39 am

      In both cases, the punitive measures are overboard. You can be sure that pregnancy for these teenage girls is punishment enough. There is no need to disrupt their education and related activities. Children benefit from having educated mothers whether or not the pregnancies were planned and in this case, Runkles unborn child stands from benefitting from the inspiration s/he will draw from a photograph of his/her mother attending graduation.

    • agreed

      May 25, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      spirit k agree with you.. I think the punshiments were overboard.. I understand her being stripped frm certainly roles but graduating is her right.. she did the work, she wrote the exams.. 4.0 isnt beans so it’s not like she was a delinquent student..

      I agree with the young girl that the school is worried about its reputation.. We all sin, we all make mistakes.. but the reason she isn’t graduating is because her the result of her sin is visible.. The school should come out and admit that try are worried about their reputation nd not pretend like they are trying to teach the girl a lesson.. pregnancy for such a student is punshiments enough.

      and @Asa, not graduating is not. small price to pay, the way they describe the girl seems like she is a good student, and if you are anyone like me who work so hard in school nd has dreams of graduating.. This punshiments is harsh.. Yes she made a mistake, but she did the work, she got the grades.. its unfair to not let her graduate..

  2. Bra

    May 25, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    it really irks me when people know they clearly did something wrong but they want others to make exceptions for them. The school which has been in existence long before her, has its rules and she broke them. The school chose to take away the privilege of walking across the stage and that is fine because it is their prerogative. While she thinks the school could use her as an example to inspire others, them allowing her to walk could also set a precedent that it is ok for anybody to get pregnant. Many studies have shown that having children early and being a single mother (I don’t know if she’ll be marrying the child’s father) can be detrimental to the healthy development of mother and child so the more people are deterred from doing this, the better for the society at large. I’m not saying she shouldn’t have the baby, all I’m saying is that with everything else she has going on, whether the school allows her to walk across a stage or not should be the least of her concerns.

    • ANGRY ME

      May 25, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      Thank You Bra

  3. Omoté

    May 25, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    In as much as I sympathize with the pregnay teen, there is also a downside to letting her walk with classmates, a year frm now some other student will make the same mistake and assume it’s not a big deal after all Runkles was allowed. It’s concessions like these that have increased moral decay that we see in virtually every corner we care to look. It’s a Christian school and they have got rules.

    • agreed

      May 25, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      No, I disagree, if any student makes that mistake it will be because they are human.. pls tell me which young girl will see a heavily pregnant woman, with swollen feet, ankles and lethargy Nd think.. hmmm that’s my inspiration.. that looksikr so much fun..

      The school should admit that they are bothered about what people wld say.. because I guarantee you that they would have allowed her graduate if she had aborted the baby

    • Ottawa Queen

      May 25, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      My thoughts too. The school is only trying to uphold it’s policies. If everyone starts being exempted for one excuse or another, very soon the school will no longer have control and of course the policies would no more be taken seriously. It’s unfortunate it has happened, but then this may serve as a warning to others. I know it’s way difficult trying to control teenagers to abstain from keeping such sexual relationship’s, but on this note, they will always remember Runkles case.

  4. Sisi

    May 25, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Wrong on all counts – the two are unrelated. She deserves to walk as reward for results of her effort. Any punishment for being pregnant is between her and her parents God who created her. Jesus wouldn’t do that to her.

    • C

      May 25, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Thanks Sisi! You realise what our Lord Jesus Christ would have done.

    • molarah

      May 26, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Sorry o, you that knows what Jesus would have done.

      It’s a Christian school. They have their rules, which all students would definitely be aware of, and they do no one any favors by bending the rules because someone’s feelings are being hurt. It’s the same way we get unnecessary outrage when the Christian-run universities in Nigeria wield the big stick over offenses that are clearly spelt out in their rule books – rules the students signed to comply with before gaining admission. Please let’s stop creating issues where there are none – the school was right to take the stance it did. And lest we forget, God is a God of order, and the Bible tells us to be subject to authorities (Romans 13 I believe). So let’s be very sure we are Biblically aligned before we declare Jesus wouldn’t do this or that.

  5. oluyemisi olotu

    May 25, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    She is attending a Christian school. They have rules. She broke the rules, she got caught. She must pay the consequences. This is life. She still graduates but just will not cross the stage. She will be alright.

  6. Deleke

    May 25, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    And where is the baby daddy in all of this? Prolly a student like her, who will get to walk n receive his diploma. I smell discrimination here

  7. Fabulous

    May 25, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    One thing I realised especially with my generation is that we want to do what we want without having to take responsibility for them. We must understand that our choices & decisions have consequences and we should be ready to face them.
    The school has a policy and if you violate them, you should be punished; and pregnancy is not a punishment.
    Not attending graduation is not a big deal. If you must appear in a gown, take a friends own and snap in front of your house. The most important thing is she has she graduated.
    I stand with the School

    • C

      May 25, 2017 at 3:30 pm

      Being a single mother and changing diapers when her mates are having fun is enough punishment. Realise this pls.

      Where’s the man in all this? The man who impregnated her?

      When Jesus Christ encountered the adulteress as recorded in the bible. ..did he ostracise her? That’s a lesson to us Christians on how to treat our erring brethren.

  8. Sisi

    May 25, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    What happened to GRACE in al this? Wow these comments are interesting. Ostracising her and making her feel like a lesser person is never going to help

    • Image

      May 25, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      If the entire world operated on grace, then we would be in deep sh**. If someone hits your car today because of their own careless driving, would you say “because of grace, you can go, don’t worry about fixing it”? I would hope not. So for a society to function, people have to be held accountable for their actions and this is how it happens. Nobody is ostracizing her, the school is just taking away a small privilege as a response to her violating their policies. Maybe this story will come to a young girl’s mind when she’s about to do the nasty and positively influence her decision in the moment.

    • C

      May 25, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      Don’t mind them. 70% of them are having premarital sex and had abortions. Hypocrites

    • Nothin'

      May 25, 2017 at 8:14 pm

      Maybe she should have thought about the consequences when she was straddling that bed.

  9. Responsibility

    May 25, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    “I think they’re missing out on an incredible opportunity to set an example for the pro-life community and Christian schools about how to treat guys and girls like me.” Umm excuse me young lady, this already is a PERFECT example to treat girls like you. That’s why it is a CHRISTIAN school and not just any kind of Public or Private school where teenage pregnancy is accepted. On the other hand. u can set your own example outside of the school for the pro-life community. You messed up, that’s ok but Learn to take responsibility for your actions and grow from it. Be grateful that u are at least graduating because most teenage mothers drop out of High school and never got a chance to education.

  10. C

    May 25, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    I’m sure the school is a pentecostal school.
    This is my problem with pentecostal Christians. The way they punish people for committing sin negates the very value of Christianity.
    Who are you to punish someone for sinning? It’s left to God.
    Just the way they punish brides for getting pregnant before marriage by not wedding them.
    This makes way for a greater sin- abortion.
    Girls in similar position will choose abortion to prevent public shame.
    Which is worse?
    Let’s be wise here.

    • Ajala & Foodie

      May 25, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      @ C, all I have to say is this, it is bad enough that we have tribal or ethnic beef/war, there are religious wars wherever you look but people like you don’t see how bad that is already but want to take things a step further by bringing even more division in a religious sect I.e Christiandom. Really, if you think Catholic schools do not have rules just as stringent (if not more so) then you might want to go and read up on them before you come on here making divisive statements “I’m sure the school is a Pentecostal school. This is my problem with Pentecostal….”

      I am not trying to pick on Catholics (far be it from me to fall into such none sense) but they are the more popular sect with schools that I am familiar with and last I checked they are not considered Pentecostals. I have had co workers from Catholic families who have been asked not go for their cousin’s wedding because she got pregnant out of wedlock or to desist from speaking with certain homosexuals in the family. And these are actually families not institutions, if this is happening on the home front, what do you think the rules are in their schools? The truth is religious bodies as with all institutions are built on principles that serve as the basis of said institutions and this is regardless of sect or creed.
      The truth is we as Christians fail to realize that Christ was not about creating institutions but about building relationships, it is for this same reason he did not get along with the religious heads of his days. (Epistle for another day)

      The point I am trying to make here is this: That this is a Christian school be it Pentecostal,Protestant, Greek-orthodox has nothing to do with the issue at hand. All institutions have rules and policies in place, be it public or private and that is what this is about. No need in making contentious statements that have little or nothing to do with the issue at hand.

    • C

      May 25, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      @Ajala &foodie…..and you just had to bring catholics into the equation…who says I’m catholic?. I’m an orthodox Christian quite alright.

      I’m not trying to bring division here just stating the truth.

    • Ajala & Foodie

      May 25, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      @ C, in case you missed it, I wrote exactly why I used the Catholic to make my point… your point is still moot. I could careless what you are and NEVER insinuated you were of any creed. My point still remains, your comment was not only contentious but irrelevant to the issue at hand,

    • Ajala & Foodie

      May 25, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      BTW, what is the truth, that “Pentecostals” are judgemental “they punish people for sinning, are they God”? And you are Not??? You lump a particular sect and slap on not just a label but an actual character on them and you think my using another sect as an example to nullify your point is an issue??? Dude, please!!!! Read your comment again and try and read mine completely before responding, while you are at it also check on the definition of ” the truth”. Because “your truth” I.e which can be based on personal experiences which is most times limited, is totally different from “The truth” which is an unarguable fact not limited to your individual experience and are 2 totally different things.

    • funmilola

      May 25, 2017 at 9:56 pm

      Please ma, you are wrong and stop arguing blindly. Every organization or institution have rules the members abide with…..if you can’t take the heat you simply get out of the kitchen.
      I attended Holy Child college and abided by the rules of the school even though I wasn’t Catholic.

    • funmilola

      May 25, 2017 at 9:59 pm


  11. LettyandMoon

    May 25, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    @Sisi, when you write grace, you write as though the school owns her any forgiveness. i think they did well enough to let her finish. There is a price for everything. its not necessarily the school trying to save their name, i guess their major concern probably will be focused on the how other students will perceive the judgment. when you set rules and you don’t follow them, your standards begin to drop, and everyone will be focused on having second chances, i think this is bad for any business.
    The world is fragile but the people living in it are aggressive

    • C

      May 25, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      Do u think this punishment will stop students from having premarital sex? It’ll only make them wiser about birth control methods which is not the message Christians should pass.
      The pregnancy test pentecostal churches perform….has it reduced the number of premarital sex or has it increased the number of birth control users and abortions? The fact that other students haven’t gotten pregnant doesn’t mean they’re not having sex. Smh

  12. kkay

    May 25, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Right is right. Wrong is wrong.
    Do right reap benefits. Do wrong, bear punishment (negative effects).
    Nature abounds with examples.
    You cannot appeal to gravity when you throw yourself off a height. You will definitely fall.
    Correcting in love also means tough love where appropriate.

    The only concession we have on earth is GRACE.
    When we stand before God, we get rewards or rejection /punishment for our actions. No appeal or concessions on that DAY.

    • JustSayin

      May 25, 2017 at 5:54 pm

      One of the best comments here. precise and straight to the point.
      I can imagine it’s a tough time for her and her family now and i hope she is not condemned by the school authorities but treated in love. For the school to bentdtheir rules a lil by allowing her finish school and ‘graduate’ all the same was quite considerate.
      I believe what could have helped an appeal as her’s (if not already done), was for her to acknowledge her wrong in breaking the school’s policy and requesting they show some mercy and pardon her to graduate with her mates (although this doesn’t guarantee policy will be changed for her, its just a better approach) NOT to list others who made mistakes and were with seemingly less reactions from the school. It shows responsibility and acknowledgement of wrong.
      i pray we are wise, strong and courageous to guide and lead our children aright in love especially when it’s most difficult.

  13. Sisi

    May 25, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    She should be allowed to reap the benefits of her hard work and passing to walk and graduate as with everyone else. Her punishment for getting pregnant does not correlate with what the school are proposing. That some of you are suggesting the repuation of the school over the well being of a student and child is again interesting. I am not saying she shouldn’t face consequences – she will whatever the case, the school does not need to add their own on top. They don’t owe her forgiveness – you’re right. They should do like their Father would want them to

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