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New Job Corps program nearing full enrollment

November 18, 2018

Cascades Job Corps College and Career Academy Director Kevin Meenaghan speaks Friday during a luncheon at the academy in Sedro-Woolley.

SEDRO-WOOLLEY — With 220 students, the Cascades Job Corps College and Career Academy is well on its way to full enrollment, Director Kevin Meenaghan said Friday at a luncheon at the academy.

The revamped Job Corps opened its doors last year with six students. It had sat unused since late 2015 as it transitioned to a pilot program helping train disenfranchised youths for jobs in health care and information technology.

The academy helps guide students toward acquiring health care and IT certifications, provide college credits and prepare them for four-year schools.

Meenaghan said getting the academy’s enrollment up to 300 students by next spring is his No. 1 goal.

Throughout the past year, Meenaghan said the academy conducted several internal and external assessments to track its progress.

The assessments found some room for improvement, including in the dropout rate for students who are minors, Meenaghan said.

In analyzing the findings, Meenaghan said most dropouts were occurring during final exams. The academy plans to implement stress-relieving programs during those times to help prevent students from dropping out.

The passing rate of students enrolled at off-campus colleges such as Skagit Valley College was also a focus in the assessments.

In fall 2017, Meenaghan said college-enrolled students were passing at a rate of 79 percent, which he said was less than desired.

After implementing a college readiness program and improving coordination with outside colleges, the rate is up to about 87 percent this quarter, he said.

“That is really cool and (the students are) doing really well,” Meenaghan said. “But it hasn’t come without a lot of darn learning along the way.”

Half of students at the academy are enrolled in college classes, he said.

The academy also recently opened a testing center on campus that allows students to take exams such as the GED.

Meenaghan said the academy will graduate its first class of students from its three-year program in 2019. With that milestone will come a new focus on helping students transition into a career.

Meenaghan said the academy will also focus on increasing enrollment in its health care programs, which have been lagging behind IT in student numbers.

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