A pregnant teen who was barred from her high school graduation at a Maryland Christian academy has been thrown a private ceremony to receive her diploma.
Maddi Runkles, an 18-year-old straight-A student, was banned from graduation at the Heritage Academy in Hagerstown for “becoming pregnant out of wedlock,” according to the school.
The teen said she told officials at the school that she was pregnant at the beginning of the year.
She was told that she would not be able to participate in her commencement ceremony, attend school activities, and was being removed from her position on the student council.
Maddi’s family and the athletic director from her high school came together Saturday to throw the special event for the teen, who is expecting a baby boy in September.
“It was very nice. It was not the way I thought I would receive my diploma, but it was very sweet,” Maddi told InsideEdition.com.
More than 100 of the teen’s friends and family members were present at the event. A pastor spoke at the graduation and a local school principal handed Maddi her diploma.
The teen was even surprised with $16,000 scholarship from Students for Life of America, an anti-abortion organization. She plans on taking college classes online in the fall.
“We are so proud of Maddi for not only her courage to make a good decision in difficult circumstances, but to be an example to other students in similar situations and challenge Christian schools on their policies toward pregnant students like herself,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “I have no doubt that hearts and minds will be changed because of Maddi’s courage and willingness to share her story.”
Maddi said the moment was still extremely special to her.
“All of the support and love that was there — it really made me emotional," Maddi said. "I got to celebrate in the way every high school student deserves."