Teen mom can’t bring baby to grad

Melissa Jenkins
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Ascension Collegiate students upset with no children rule

As a teenage mother, Jessica Mason has been working hard for both her child and her education, ensuring she completes high school this school year as planned.

Jessica Mason (left), Brandon Bowering (right) and their daughter Iyla were hoping to attend the Ascension Collegiate graduation together, before learning there is a rule banning children from the event.

The 17-year-old from Cupids will graduate from Ascension Collegiate in Bay Roberts, with the prom celebrations taking place on Friday, May 8.

She wants to have her four-month-old daughter Iyla attend with her mother and boyfriend so she could be a part of her big day. But that idea came to a halt last week when she was informed children and infants were no longer going to be allowed to attend.

“At the beginning … I asked if I could walk with my daughter during the grand march,” she told The Compass in a phone interview Tuesday, April 28. She was denied, but she understood. “I was still under the notion that I was allowed to bring her.”

When tickets went on sale for the event, she was then informed that she would need to purchase one for her daughter. Mason’s father died two years ago, and she didn’t want another important member of her family to miss this occasion.

“I was kind of confused about (that) considering she’s only four months old and wouldn’t be eating food or sitting on a chair,” Mason explained. “I bought one anyway.”

She spent the past few weeks getting everything ready and prepared for both herself and her daughter to make the night perfect. But on April 23, she received a message on Facebook that changed everything.

“I received a message from a student and I was kind of shocked that one of the grad committee’s teachers didn’t notify me themselves. She told me that Iyla couldn’t attend grad, that there were no children or infants allowed at grad this year, which is strange because they were allowed every other year,” Mason explained.

She reached out to one of the teachers involved, and pleaded her case on why her daughter should be allowed to attend.

“I just wanted to say, ‘Look I’m a teen mom and I did it,’” she stated.

In an email reply to Mason, which The Compass has obtained a copy of, the teacher writes there are 200 graduates “and do you think they want a baby at the grad?” We have decided not to publish the teacher’s name because the school has not responded to the The Compass’ request for an interview.

She posted a copy of the email on her Facebook page, which has garnered dozens of comments of support. One commenter even mentioned she and another former student were allowed to bring their children to their grads in previous years.

“I wanted to be able to tell my daughter years down the road, ‘You got to watch me graduate, now I get to watch you graduate,’” she said. “If I had known this at the beginning, I wouldn’t have even bought a dress.”

Mason hopes the school will change the rule to allow for her daughter, and all other children and infants connected to graduates to be allowed to be a part of this big day.

A spokesperson from the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District said it was looking into the matter and will provide more details when available.


Organizations: The Compass

Geographic location: Bay Roberts

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Recent comments

  • Lisa
    April 29, 2015 - 20:20

    Why do people have to be so rude...if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all!

    • rude?
      April 30, 2015 - 10:03

      When people go to the media they have to realize that they will have both supporters and non supporters. They will be scrutinized from head to toe and their entire lives become an open book. I am not saying this is right or wrong but this is what happens. She subjected herself to this.

  • Anon
    April 29, 2015 - 19:00

    She didn't graduate as a teen mom. She hasn't even been to highschool since 2012. Stop giving her credit, where it is NOT due

  • B
    April 29, 2015 - 15:26

    I'll certainly have my kids at my Masters graduation ceremony if that is permitted.

    • you said a mouthful
      April 30, 2015 - 10:01

      B you made a key point in your statement "if that is permitted"...so if it is not will you kick and scream and go to the media??? You should apparently that works.

  • Disgusting
    April 29, 2015 - 01:07

    I give this girl so much respect and I hope she takes her beautiful daughter to her graduation. Babies cry. So what? You think she's the only one who's going to have children there. Time to grow up ladies and gentlemen. Get with the program. If it was my daughter or son you'd need hell or high water to stop MY child from attending. Unreal.. And to think this " Teacher " has children of her own... Pft.

    • Ridiculous
      April 29, 2015 - 18:58

      The fact everyone is praising her for being such a superior teen mom, going to school and raising a child is a joke. She doesnt attend school, so what did she really achieve? Taking care of her baby, a lot of teen moms do that.. why should she be praised so much for it. Talks about how she doesnt trust anyone else besides her, her boyfriend & her mom to watch the baby so thats a reason the baby has to go but yet she has her baby at day care. Makes sense

    • So true
      April 30, 2015 - 21:56

      id be the same way they would need remove me from the school, last time I checked its a public place, I'm sure other kids will be there as well... an if it was me the teacher would be put in her spot!

  • LUcy
    April 28, 2015 - 22:46

    I have never heard of a baby or small children at a prom. Prom is for the future graduate, their date and generally their parents (not the entire family) and not all the siblings and offspring. Most schools have meet and greets at prior to the ceremony and meal to allow for pictures. Having a baby there, as sweet as she is, in my opinion, can be very disruptive. I don't want to listen to a fussy baby while my son or daughter is up doing a speech or some type of performance or even if I'm trying to talk to someone at my table. On a side note, her father is not dead (maybe dead to her but he's very much alive) and she didn't even go to that school rather stayed home and did her courses. You really need to get the facts straight. The school told her from the very beginning NO...that screen capture that she shared appears to have been the very last part of a frustrated conversation between her and the recipient. There is far more to this story than meets the eye. This is 2015 not 1995. It doesn't matter that you were allowed to bring your baby 30 years ago. Rules are rules...no small children regardless if they're a baby, toddler or elementary. I commend the young girl for continuing her education at home for the past year, however, I really don't understand how someone from the school system who was absent for the past years or can really kick up such a fuss when she hasn't been an active part of the school body. Senior prom is a ceremony and celebration of achievement of completing the final year...not graduation as nobody actually finds out if they graduate until they receive their marks in July. I hope all works out for everyone in the end.

    • Jessica mason
      April 29, 2015 - 10:57

      http://www.inmemoriam.ca/view-announcement-333123-shawn-angus-mason.html So tell me again how "very much alive " my father is? It's funny that I remember getting a call in November 2012 telling me my father had frozen to death...and the fact that I saw his body in a casket and then assisted my brother with putting him in the ground.. You should get your facts straight! I finished grade 11 and went up until October of 2014 at which point I was almost 7 month pregnant and struggling with hypermesis gravidarum. I had plans on returning to school in January after my child was born , until she was admitted to the NICU and had to under go surgery.

  • Give Me A Break
    April 28, 2015 - 22:39

    The four month old can't really understand anything that's happening in her immediate environment, so why bring her? Bring the graduation hat home and let her play with the tassel - it will have the same effect on the youngster. These bleeding-heart stories are really getting pathetic. It's just high school, people. Why doesn't she bring her Mom and the baby's father? I suppose that question shouldn't be asked....and the word is spelled ALLOWED, not aloud, you indignant high school graduates.

    • Matt
      April 29, 2015 - 08:04

      "Why doesn't she bring her Mom and the baby's father?" Maybe because the baby's father passed away a few years ago. If you had read the entire the "bleeding-heart" story, you would have saw that.

    • Debbie
      April 29, 2015 - 08:35

      Matt, it says her father died, not the baby's father. He is right there in the photo with the baby.

  • Michael
    April 28, 2015 - 22:02

    This is very upsetting, whatever happened to encouraging Teens to continue with their education? seems to me this "teacher" should be mandated to take more courses in humanity and social studies...and yes the name be released!

  • Needfactsfirst
    April 28, 2015 - 21:51

    I understand everyone's frustration but this is a very one-sided article. All the facts are not laid on the table properly at all!! I am honestly appalled that the compass would portrait this issue as bad as this article makes it appear. Very Very poor reporting!!!

  • randy crocker
    April 28, 2015 - 21:42

    taking a while to hear response from ascension it seems,thats because they screwed up royally here, this graduate is planning her life nd before she gets started the POWERS THAT BE are jumping on her back.for love of god and our kids young(babies) and graduating teen moms and all other kids graduating,to the school teachers and school board get of yr mounts and be normal not tyrants a lot of them have ended up in mass trouble if one has read thier history books.

  • Al
    April 28, 2015 - 20:42

    Isn't this the same woman who advocates for women's rights?

  • Sarah
    April 28, 2015 - 20:35

    Go and ring your child anyway. Do the grand march with her and be proud of everything you have been able to do. You know you are supported by Many of the students. And I'm sure many teachers. They can't remove your own child from your arms. I would stop asking for permission at this point and prove your own abilities :)

  • Bill
    April 28, 2015 - 19:52

    Something is seriously wrong when a school in receipt of Government funding to operate an infant daycare centre decides to say no to graduating student wanting to bring her child to the grad. It is high time for the District Administration to intervene with the School Administration and get this resolved. This graduate should not be discriminated against because she has surmounted the odds and is making a better life for herself and her child.

  • Edward White
    April 28, 2015 - 19:13

    Wow I fail to understand why this chld is not allowed to attend her mothers graduation , Perhaps the teacher or those responsible for this decision may need to take a look in their own closet or a bit further back,Blessed Are The Children Who Come Unto Me sSaid The Lord, Jesus Loves The Little Children All The Children In The World, We then wonder why our teenagers become depressed,the teach you in school not to bully people and do not practice what they preach, Gay Marriages Are Supported, Children attend their parents wedding, But A Teenage Girl Who has a child is being refused to let this child attend her MOMS Graduation Is Their some sort of message here from the Leaders of Acension Colleigate or is this discrimination,bullying or just plain stupidity,To Those responsible for this Decision I say Get A Life Ed White Cupids Crossing

    • Honestly
      April 29, 2015 - 02:45

      What does society accepting gay marriage have to do with this particular situation??

  • Rosalee
    April 28, 2015 - 18:46

    You should be very proud of yourself for graduating, I was a teen mom & know how hard it can be. Your daughter should be allowed to share this moment with you, bring her. You paid for the ticket, they can't change the rules after the fact & they can't stop you from bringing her. I attended a grad last year & the 2 grown women behind me were making more noise & being way more distracting than any baby could ever be.

  • Bernadette
    April 28, 2015 - 17:53

    What is wrong with picture. Stay in school. Finish your education. Things I've not heard and said. This young woman did these things and she should be very proud. She had a baby in the midst of it all. I personally feel you should get dressed up take your baby and go enjoy your graduation. You have to stand up for yourself and your child. Might as well start now! Good luck and congratulations on your accomplishments so far.

  • Disappointed
    April 28, 2015 - 17:31

    I am so, so very disappointed in Ascension Collegiate. I was always proud to say I went to AC which embraced a diverse, welcoming environment from most staff. I was even bold enough to brag in my university gender studies class about the daycare our school had to help teen mothers strive for excellence in their academics and also help to reduce stress in their everyday lives. However, when the daycare achieves its goal of helping a teen mom graduate, they cannot go and celebrate one of the greatest life achievements with the most important person in their life. I believe this is a human rights issue, and the way she was addressed in the e-mail was downright disrespectful, unprofessional, unnecessary and rude. I am so heartbroken for this young lady who has broken the teen mom stereotype by completing high school, and instead of celebrating this accomplishment, ascension chooses to hide it and seem somewhat ashamed of this. This act is reinforcing the stigma of what is expected of high school students and should not be accepted by students. The other graduating students should rally together to support this young lady and remember what grad is all about, coming together to celebrate a common goal.

    • your post might hold some water if...
      April 30, 2015 - 10:37

      ..her baby actually attended the day care at the school and if the mother actually attended classes at the school.

  • Tommy
    April 28, 2015 - 17:28

    I can agree with the teacher in one way & not in the other. First I think she shouldn't be allowed to have her child at the graduation because if the child kicks up than it would be annoying, distracting and disruptive at the special night. I understand where the teacher is coming from but I also think that she should be aloud to bring her child because she is family, she paid for the ticket and like said, her father has passed away and she wouldn't want anyone else there so I think her child should be aloud. To solve this problem the school should set up a voting day for this problem only for the graduating class to participate, then when the votes come in they will see if her child should or should not be aloud to go to the very special night. Good luck & congratulations to the graduating class.

  • Amanda Crann
    April 28, 2015 - 17:00

    This situation is disgraceful. Grads are supposed to be a celebration to be shared with family, and who could be more family then your own child. If you had already purchased your daughters ticket and there was no age limit on it, they shouldn't be able to change the rules after the fact, as well if there is no licensed bar at the the school, which I'm pretty sure there's not, then legally all ages should be able to attend. This whole situation makes me wonder if the rules would have been changed if the child was her sister and not her daughter. If this is the case then the school needs to open their eyes to the twenty first century , teenagers are having babies all the time, and the fact that they are still able to finish their education should be awarded not penalized.

  • maryanne
    April 28, 2015 - 16:49

    I think she should be able to attend her mommy's grad...Over 28 years ago, one of my classmates walked across the stage to receive her diploma, and her water broke, it was a treasured memory for all of us grads that despite being a teenage mom, you were able to complete your senior year..i commend her and her efforts.

  • Suzanne
    April 28, 2015 - 16:40

    I graduated from Ascension Collegiate in 1998. I think it's shameful that the school will not allow her baby to attend. She is GRADUATING ... Her baby is just as important as her parents. She made a huge accomplishment by completing high school as a teen mom. I feel like the school is sending a negative message by not allowing her baby to be there. She is a mother. She should be allowed.

  • Malcom
    April 28, 2015 - 16:33

    The article is confusing. Is it the graduation or the prom that her child is being barred from? Doesn't one occur during the day and the other at night? The child shouldn't be admitted to the prom, but there is no good reason to bar her from the grad ceremony itself. It is her responsibility that the baby is not crying; otherwise this nonsense - brought on no doubt by someone's narrow condemnation of an teenage mom. In 2015! Really?

  • Kelly
    April 28, 2015 - 16:10

    I think, it's your grad, yours. You should be able to bring anyone you want! Did the committee vote on this? Also are they going to refund the money paid for this ticket. I think they should. Way to go to you for staying in school and getting an education for yourself, and shame on the grad committee for spoiling your big day and not having the decency to give an interview.

    • From a fellow graduates POV
      April 29, 2015 - 21:45

      Correction this is NOT just Jessicas grad, there are over 200 other students including myself that are attending this grad. I am appalled at the fact that because of social media this girl got her way. I do not want to be walking down for my grand march listening to not only her child but any child for that matter crying and bawling. I do not want to pay 35$ for a graduation video if all i cant hear is a child crying. It is not fair, also the fact she is saying she bought a ticket for her daughter acting as if she had a choice. No the choices are 4 tickets for a family, 6 for a split family. Theres no 3 for jessica masons family, that was never a opinion you either bought 4 or 6. So she would of had that ticket anyway. To top it all off I and MANY other graduates havent saw Jessica since basically the begining of her grade 10 year, November 2012? So for her to say she's was there last year is bull. Why should we as a grad class at OUR graduation have to suffer from other peoples children? Who has there child out till 10, 11 anyways. Just my opinion on how unfair this is.

  • wavy
    April 28, 2015 - 15:32

    Guess what? You can't bring 'em to your post-secondary institution or place of work either; you have to arrange or pay for a caregiver. Did you factor that into your calculations? Sounds like someone's getting a much-needed wake-up call and learning about life the hard way. The world owes you nothing.

  • joe
    April 28, 2015 - 15:31

    Is the father a mute? You got a photo of him, couldn't you get a quote about how he feels? Shouldn't the title be "Teen parents can't bring baby to grad"?

  • TwoCents
    April 28, 2015 - 15:30

    Ah, yes Ms. Haire... She really lacks communication skills. She's very disconnected from her students. Her inability to politely communicate to people through technology is appalling. She TEXTED a parent I know, to inform them that something was wrong with a student... TEXTED!!!... could have landed in the wrong hands.

  • Amanda
    April 28, 2015 - 15:29

    She should definitely be allowed to bring her child to her grad, that is a big accomplishment for a teen mother. This is her special day and should be celebrated with whomever she wants especially if that person is her child. Shame on that school and the staff who are involved in that decision. I hope that changes !

  • Joan
    April 28, 2015 - 15:21

    I think this is ridiculous and she should be allowed I would call the school board and I would go on the news

  • brittany
    April 28, 2015 - 14:58

    same thing that happened when I graduated and wasn't aloud to take my child, it's disgusting ! We made it through highschool with a child and not many do, it's an accomplishment and anyone who has a child and finished high school should be able to celebrate that day with their baby!! I should have went to the media also ! Congrats on graduating as a teen mom ! I wish you all the success in life !