Student parents at a New Mexico high school are disappointed after a section of the yearbook, which is usually dedicated to them, was left out this year.
Naomi Roque is a senior at Santa Fe High School and a mother. She is a part of a program called the Teen Parent Center, which helps teen moms get through high school and help prepare them for parenthood.
The school allows for each student parent in the program to take a picture with his or her child for the yearbook. Roque said that section of the yearbook is important because it recognizes them as a group and shows that the high school supports them.
“Every year we look forward to taking our picture for the yearbook,” Roque told KOAT 7.
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But things were different this year. There were no pictures taken to recognize the Teen Parent Center program and no section dedicated to the teen moms.
“It was somewhat hurtful, that’s an opportunity for us to look back and show our kids this time that we’re going through,” Roque said.
School district spokeswoman Latifah Phillips told KOAT 7 that the student parents were not intentionally left out of the yearbook.
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“In previous years, teen parents were distinctly grouped together within a separate program on the school site,” Phillips explained. “This year, there has been an effort to include the students in regular high school programming. All of the students are included as individuals within the yearbook.
“If the students want to represent themselves as a group similar to other student activities, they can inform the yearbook committee of their wishes to be included.”
Phillips told Yahoo Parenting that the incident was the result of a misunderstanding by the yearbook coordinator and committee. She explained that the program placed the teen mothers in separate classrooms where the teen parents received parenting support, child care services along with their high school education.
“We were concerned they weren't getting the same educational opportunities,” Phillips said. She explained that the teen parents were integrated into regular classrooms this year, which caused the accidental exclusion from the yearbook
“It’s a shame that these young mothers who are undoubtedly working heroically to complete their education while taking on the challenging task for being a parent were excluded from the yearbook,” Bill Albert, spokesperson for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, told Yahoo Parenting. “Teen mothers need and deserve our love and support, not exclusion.”
The teen parents still receive parenting and other life-skills support through the center and through a new elective course.
Roque said she hopes the yearbook committee will include them in the future, adding that she believes the recognition serves as a positive message for the school community.
“I think for other kids who are struggling, they can see if they can do it with a baby then I can do it," Roque said.
Photo Credit: via Boston News Time