Library offers 
online school 
to help learners 
get HS degree

Rosalva Martinez, working at the Learning Center at the Central Library, is a student in the online library high school. Career Online High School is a program for adults who want to earn a high school diploma. .

For the first time in nearly 10 years, Rosalva Martinez is going back to school.

Since dropping out of Central High School during her sophomore year, Martinez has often thought about how a high school diploma would make a difference in her life.

The 25-year-old Grand Junction woman wants to be someone her children can look up to. 

“One of the main reasons a diploma means a lot is so that my kids will able to say they admire their mom. So they can say that even though she has four kids, she’s going back to school to provide for us a better future,” Martinez said.

Martinez tried out a few GED classes, but they didn’t feel like a good fit. It was also hard to attend class while being the primary caretaker for her kids.

“I just didn’t really feel fulfillment, like if I actually did achieve my GED (certification) I wouldn’t feel satisfied, so I was looking for something else to be more school-based,” she said. “I was looking at GED practice tests at the library, and that’s when I found Career Online High School.”

Career Online High School is an online program for adults who want to earn a high school diploma.

Through a state grant, Mesa County Libraries are offering free enrollment for up to 40 Mesa County residents. The program normally costs $1,000 per person.

James Price, head of literacy services at Mesa County Libraries, said the Colorado State Library awarded more scholarships to Mesa County after their program’s initial success.

Twelve people are currently enrolled and several more are in the application process, a stark difference from other libraries in the state who didn’t have any applicants, Price said.

“It’s been a really positive response,” Price said. “People are really excited that they can actually get a high school diploma, not a high school equivalency. Whether it’s fair or not, there’s a little bit of stigma around getting a GED (diploma), and a consistent thing I hear people say is, ‘I just want to be able to say I have my diploma.’”

In addition to a diploma, the Career Online program emphasizes job training in areas such as security, child care, education, commercial driving, food and hospitality, office management and more.

Price said he expects the first students to graduate from the program in May.

“When people first come in to talk about it, it’s almost like they have to tell you a secret, that they don’t have a high school diploma,” Price said. “I tell them, that’s why you’re here, let’s talk about that and do something about it.”

The program allows students to earn a diploma in 18 months, or a little less in Martinez’s case. Her credits from Central High School were transferred, and she’s now 30 percent of the way to graduation.

“I’m really confident in myself and I’m really happy,” Martinez said. “I’m still doing the prerequisites (classes), but I’m keeping up with it. I’ve been getting A’s so far and I’d like to keep it that way.”

Martinez said she’s considering a career in business or law enforcement when she graduates.

“This is one thing I can do to have a better future,” she said.


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