Libraries Introduce Hot New Fashion Accessories: Cap and Gown

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Posted February 8, 2016

By Kim Martin

“Pomp and Circumstance” has come to public libraries.

The library, always the province of learning and enlightenment, has kicked things up a notch.  In addition to providing information, access to knowledge, community resources, personal development programming, and (of course) story time for kids, a group of progressive libraries around the country are now actively providing a path for adults to achieve a high school diploma.  And it’s working.

Recently, several early adopters of the library-based Career Online High School (COHS) program from Gale have celebrated their first high school graduates:

  • On January 30, Denver Public Library hosted a graduation for its first three graduates, just one year after their COHS launch. Graduates include: Michael Solis (21) who dropped out of high school as a sophomore to help support his family, Victoria Tolve (33) who fulfilled a promise to her father to complete high school, and Melissa Gomez (47), a single mother of four who completed the program 10 months ahead of schedule.
  • Phoenix Public Library’s ReEngage program recently graduated its first seven students at an event officiated by Mayor Greg Stanton and Councilwoman Laura Pastor. One graduate, 32-year-old Enrique Galindo, said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  I wanted my kids to be proud of me, and I wanted to be a good example to them.”  His entire family attended the ceremony.
  • San Diego Public Library held commencement for its second graduating class on February 3. Six students received both a high school diploma and a career certificate.  Another 49 students are currently enrolled in the COHS program, and 23 others are taking prerequisites to determine their readiness for this growing library program.  (Want to experience an uplifting moment?  Footage of the first ceremony can be seen here.)
  • Los Angeles Public Library, the first public library in the nation to offer COHS graduated 28 adults, with ages ranging from their 20s to their 50s on January 26. “All of us have different reasons why we didn’t complete our high school diploma, whether it was taking care of our families, having to work multiple jobs, or something else that prevented us from finishing,” said Angie Velasquez, one of the COHS graduates. “But there is one thing that we all have in common and this is determination. If it were not for COHS, I would not be working where I am now.”
  • Other public libraries with recent graduates include New Jersey State Library, Sacramento, Chattanooga, Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Fountaindale (IL), N. Miami Beach, Broward County, and Lake County (FL).

COHS is vocation-based high school completion program that allows libraries to offer accredited high school diplomas and career certificates to adult learners.  The 18-credit program helps adults earn an AdvancED/SACS/NCA/NWAC accredited diploma while simultaneously earning career certification AND vital job skills (including resume development, business etiquette, and much more).  The program is now available at more than 100 libraries across the country.

Phoenix city officials see the program as a way to re-engage adults who have dropped out of school and to bring them into the workforce.  Councilwoman Pastor says, “Education impacts everything….We want to help educate people to build a stronger workforce, which benefits the student and the city.”

And Mr. Galinda?  Well, Phoenix Public Library’s first graduate earned both a diploma and a certificate in office management. Armed with his new skills and knowledge, he left his call center job and became a fraud specialist at a major bank.  He is earning more money and now has health benefits.

Read more student testimonials here.

Ready to expand your library’s mission to provide education and opportunity?  Visit to learn more about offering adults in your community the ability to earn an accredited high school diploma and career certificate at your library.


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