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Library Online High School Gives Veteran a Second Chance to Earning a Diploma

Published: 7/5/2018

Finding a job without a high school diploma can be challenging. Luckily, through the Long Beach Public Library’s Career Online High School Program residents are given a second chance to earning their high school degree.

For Hubert Reynolds, a 53-year-old retired Marine Corps veteran, this program has proven that it is never too late to pursue a long time goal. Born into a military family, Reynolds moved around a lot as a child, attending five different high schools throughout his teenage years. The instability made it impossible to complete high school.

Then at the age of 17 he enlisted into the Marines. Just four days after graduating from basic training, he suffered a serious car accident leaving him with a broken neck and a life-long spinal cord injury. Since then Reynolds has been in a wheelchair.

Reynolds says that he tried other courses that would have allowed him to complete his diploma or obtain his GED, but they were not feasible due to his disability. When he first heard of the program and learned how practical it was he decided it would be the best fit for his lifestyle and ambitions.

“There are a lot of places online, basically, giving away GEDs, which is fine, but from what I understand a diploma is considered to be of more value than an equivalency type of document,” he shared.

Since March 2016 when the Online High School program was launched, 28 students have already earned their high school diploma. 

The LBPL’s Career Online High School Program pairs qualified students with an academic coach who help guide students towards their career goals, while completing their high school diploma. The program is completely online, accessible 24/7, and lets residents take up to 18 months to complete their coursework.

“Online high school classes are challenging, but as I finish each lesson I feel excited because it's one portion closer to graduating,” Reynolds says. “I would say the workload is set and a good pace, as long as we just dedicate ourselves to it.”

To qualify, an applicant must be at least 19 years old, live in the City of Long Beach, and have a library account in good standing. Additionally, he or she must complete an online self-assessment—including a short essay—a prerequisite course and attend an in-person interview at the library.

Taught by board certified instructors, students also have access to academic coaches, career mentors and technical support. Upon completion of courses, students also graduate with a resume, cover letter, and other various career tools.

Reynolds calls his academic coach a, “great lady… very helpful, understanding and encouraging. [The coaches] seem determined to keep us encouraged and motivated for this journey to a high school diploma.”

Gina Robinson, the Career Online High School coordinator, says that students who are accepted into the program may transfer up to 14 credits from their previous high school work. Students can finish the program as quickly as five months if they transfer over the max amount of credits.

While the focus of the program is obtaining a high school diploma, the library’s program also stresses career readiness. Students can choose from a variety of career-oriented, skill-based elective courses.

Additionally, they can opt to attend online, biweekly, seminars focused on 21st century job skills, monthly webinars that deal with topics such as the job market and workplace realities and career portfolio lessons that help students with business writing, and creating resumes and cover letters.

To celebrate the accomplishment of completing high school, students don a cap and gown at a graduation ceremony at the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library in North Long Beach. Paid for by the library, Robinson says there are typically two graduation ceremonies a year, depending upon how many students wish to participate.

When thinking about his future after completing the program, Reynolds, who loves to volunteer at church and with the schools, hopes to eventually be paid for a “real job.”

Reynolds says that he’ll be graduating in fall 2019, “God willingly.”

(Taught by board certified instructors, the Long Beach Public Library’s Career Online High School Program gives qualified residents that chance to finish earning their high school diploma, among other career certifications.)

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