News broke on Tuesday that a Christian school barred a student from marching in the graduation ceremony because she is pregnant. Two days later, the Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Maryland addressed the criticism. An official at the small independent school explained that the student is not being barred from graduation because she is pregnant. Instead, she is not being permitted to march in the graduation ceremony because of her participation in premarital sex.

About the graduate

Maddi Runkles is an 18-year-old honor student with a 4.0 average. She played on the soccer team and was president of the student council.

She found out she was pregnant in January. Runkles signed a code of conduct to stay away from premarital sex, drugs and other immoral things while attending the school. When school officials found out she was pregnant, they knew premarital sex had taken place. Because she violated the code of conduct, she was barred from participating in her graduation ceremony.

Code of conduct

The school administrator, David R. Hobbs, clarified the school's position on the matter. He said every student in grade 5 through 12 is required to sign a Student Pledge that states that they must abstain from sexual immorality and from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs, according to Philippians 4:8. Hobbs said the school is pleased that the high school senior chose not to abort her son, but that her immortality was what put her in that predicament.

Runkles was stripped of her leadership positions after she voluntarily told the school about her pregnancy. Even though it was embarrassing, she wanted the school to hear about it from her. Officials at the school wanted her to finish her studies at home, but after appeals from her parents and about 25 other parents and classmates, she was able to stay in school and attend the graduation, but she was barred from participating in it.

However, she did receive her diploma.

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said that Maddi was made to be a public example even after she repented. The issue caused Scott Runkles, Maddi's father, to resign from his position as president of the school board.

It is unclear whether this was the first incident of its kind. At present, it has not been revealed if anyone else has been barred from participating in graduation ceremonies for the same reason or for a similar reason.