Cascades Job Corps College and Career Academy in Sedro-Woolley is adding programs that will prepare students for jobs in the homeland security and culinary fields.

Job Corps, a program of the U.S. Department of Labor, provides tuition-free education and job training to students ages 16-24 who face barriers to education and employment.

Cascades Job Corps currently offers career training in information technology, health care and office administration.

Director Darrel Lutton said the new programs will draw a wider variety of students, such as those who would prefer hands-on work over a desk job.

Jobs in the homeland security field include those with the Transportation Security Administration or with the U.S. Border Patrol, he said.

The academy also hopes to re-establish a culinary training program that had been offered in the past.

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Lutton said he hopes both programs will begin in the near future.

Meanwhile, the Connections Academy at the Cascades Job Corps campus continues to help more students complete their high school educations.

Five graduated last month from the Connections Academy, which is part of the Sedro-Woolley School District.

Scott McPhee, the academy’s principal, said the goal is to help meet the needs of students who enroll, and give them a variety of ways to earn credit.

“It’s not about seat-time, it’s about earning credit every day,” he said.

He said about 50 students have graduated since the program began.

“It’s based on your own timing,” said 18-year-old Donavan Wesley, one of the graduates. “If you work harder, you finish faster. It’s individualized.”

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Wesley said his next step is to complete the certified medical assistant program at Cascades Job Corps, and in the future study political science, business or to be a family therapist.

Antwone Rowe, a 19-year-old who also graduated last month, started as a student at the academy 2 1/2 years ago.

“When I got here, I was immature and mouthy,” he said. “I matured because I had to deal with peers and staff. I learned coping skills and people helped me along the way.”

He said he plans to move back to Renton to find work, and in the future to attend college for environmental studies and acting.

Another graduate, 17-year-old Hannah Bosteder, is studying game and web design in the IT program, and said she also wants to pursue acting.

She said she wasn’t able to function at a traditional high school.

“Honestly, this place is the only reason I was able to graduate,” she said.