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.
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.