Hendry County has the second lowest high school graduation rate in the State of Florida.
That statistic should shake a few people up. So many people in Hendry County do not have high school diplomas - one of the most important steps in securing a good job - that the Hendry County Library System has been selected one of just 11 library systems in the state for a special on line diploma program.
Particpants may access the program at any of the three Hendry County libraries - LaBelle, Clewiston or Harlem or from their home.
Ava Barrett Director of the Hendry County Library Co-op is excited about the prospects for local residents. Still, she cautions that this is not a program for the faint of heart. It will take serious commitment and many hours of work to complete it. In fact, just making the grade to get into this scholarship program is a grueling process.
This program can earn you a real high school diploma from the Smart Horizon High School accredited by the SACS and is open to anyone who has dropped out or received a certificate of completion. The basic criteria for eligibility is simple enough. A prospective student must have completed at least the ninth grade, be at least 19 years old and have a public library card in good standing
It gets a lot more difficult from there.
“Students must be truly committed with the necessary environment and technical know-how,” Ms. Barrett said. The selection process begins with an application, which includes an essay and a one-on-one interview. Next comes a 15-hour pre-school “quality activity” in one of eight career majors. The applicant has a maximum of two weeks to complete the activity and must earn a minimum of 70 percent on it. A transcript of any existing high school credits is also required.
Even when a student is offered the scholarship, there is still a 30-day probation during which their performance in class is monitored.
Throughout the process the student must not only master the work but prove that they can meet deadlines.
Earning the diploma can take as little as five months (for a highly motivated student who brings a lot of regular high school credits with them) up to a maximum of 18 months.
To graduate, a student must earn four language arts credits, three math credits, four social studies credits and three science credits.
Each student who makes it into the program will have an academic coach (instructor) with an individualized curriculum. Students will contact their academic coach through email. social media or telephone. Ms. Barrett assures participants that the libraries will provide their full support.
Ms. Barrett has already completed several initial interviews with prospective students and some 13 have signed up to apply. At this time, Hendry County has only 20 slots allotted in this a one-year pilot program.
Anyone seriously interested in this program should contact Ms. Barrett or Melva Wood at 983-1493. Earning the Smart Horizon diploma requires true commitment along with the necessary environment to complete the coursework and the technical know-how, Ms. Barrett stresses. She is anxious to make a success of this high school diploma program for the original students, of course, but even more importantly so Hendry County has the chance to continue the program, reaching all those residents who truly have the dedication and stamina to succeed.