Despite public outcry and national media attention, a small Christian school in western Maryland remains unwavering in its decision to bar a pregnant senior from walking at graduation next week.
School officials at Heritage Academy in Hagerstown explain that it isn’t because Maddi Runkles is pregnant that is driving their decision, but because she broke school rules and acted immorally.
School principal David R. Hobbs 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,” he said.
Initially, Runkles was to be suspended and removed from her role as student council, but the school retracted and told her she would not be able to walk. The Runkles family appealed.
“It’s because I’m pregnant and you can see the results of my mistake,” the 4.0, 18-year-old student said in a telephone interview with the Washington Post.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Hobbs, a first-year principal at Heritage, believes that what Runkles did is not above the need for accountability.
“The breach of a standard of abstinence is a grievous choice,” he said in an interview. “Maddi made a grievous choice. We do believe in forgiveness, but forgiveness does not mean there’s no accountability.”
Runkles has taken her situation and chosen to use it as a platform to speak to pro-life groups on the importance of preserving and protecting life. “I chose life and sometimes it feels like it wasn’t worth it, but then it’s been kind of a blessing because I have a big platform to help other people,” she said. Her baby boy is due September 4th.
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