ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Rockford Public Library (RPL) celebrated a special group of graduates on Wednesday.

Seventeen men and women received their high school diplomas.

The group is part of RPL’s “Adult Online High School Program,” which allows those 21 and older to earn a nationally accredited diploma.

Over 23,000 adults living in Rockford lack a high school diploma, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

Administrators said that the online aspect is key.

“Most of our graduates tonight are women, and most of them are working and have children,” said Leon Smith, career online high school coordinator at RPL. “So, it’s a lot easier for them to continue and finish their education online, at their own pace, instead of having to go down and sit in the facility and travel to and from.”

Seventy-two people are currently enrolled in the library’s online high school program. Thirty-nine students have graduated with the help of RPL so far.