Like typical teens, most of the girls sitting in the lunchroom at Milwaukee's Lady Pitts High School wear jeans, worry about how their hair looks, and carry on whispered conversations with their friends while keeping one eye on the teacher. They puzzle over algebra problems, struggle over writing assignments in English class, complain about homework, and sell hot dogs to raise money to pay for the senior class trip - in this case, to Atlanta.
But along with worries over bad hair days, final exams, and getting to their part-time jobs on time, these girls have other things on their mind. Some battle morning sickness. Others wonder if they'll recognize the early signs of labor. Still others worry about their infants and toddlers, who are napping just down the hall in the school's daycare center.
Yet, even as the 165 pregnant or parenting teenage girls enrolled at Lady Pitts High School cope with awesome responsibilities ideally left to older, more financially secure, married women, they have at least one thing going their way: They've found a supportive environment in which to finish high school.
"People ask me all the time, 'What's it like teaching pregnant girls all day long?'" says math teacher Beth Boberschmidt. "But I don't think of them as pregnant. They're just students to me."
To be sure, Boberschmidt realizes better than most the challenges facing her students. "They're so young, and lots of them don't have any support . and then to have a baby," she says. "Even if you have a husband, money, and resources, that's hard. I really admire them for even being here."