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L.A. Public Library First In Nation To Offer High School Diplomas To Dropouts

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The Los Angeles Public Library's central branch. Photo by neonspecs via the LAist Flickr pool.
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Starting this month, the Los Angeles Public Library will debut an unprecedented program to offer high school diplomas to roughly 150 people, a move that is seen as the first of its kind in the nation.

The plan unveiled yesterday is the result of a partnership between the library and the accredited diploma program Career Online High School. The online school is an part of the Smart Horizons company, which is based in Florida. The program is part of an effort by the library and new director John Szabo to further cement itself as a place of learning for all citizens, the Associated Press reports.

"This is an opportunity for individuals who do not currently have a high school diploma to get one, to do it online," Szabo said.

This is not a simple GED program: the students will take an entire semester of courses, mostly online, and earn an accredited high school diploma. Szabo has said that he looks forward to the program's first graduation ceremony.

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Potential students must pass an preliminary evaluation and pick a career path in order to get an online scholarship into the program. The library will be paying for all the scholarships, at a cost of $150,000 to them. CBS 2 reports that Szabo hopes to give 150 Angelenos the opportunity to get a diploma this year. The classes will mostly be online, but students will meet at the library a few times per semester to touch base with instructors and fellow classmates.

"I believe with every cell in my body that public libraries absolutely change lives and change lives in very big ways," Szabo said.

If the program is successful, Career Online High School has plans for the program to grow from there, possibly into other libraries in cities across the country. We hope they do, because this sounds like a wonderful opportunity.