Our Voice: We're thankful for graduates and compassionate gestures that help them and others

From the Class of 2013 to women who escape from sexual slavery, there is much good that happens in the world -- even when we're surrounded by darkness and heartache.

Perhaps it's the stark contrast between good and evil that makes the good stand out even more.

Newton understood that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. We see this principle every day -- well beyond the scope of science.

Students honored

It is that time of year.

Not only is Memorial Day right around the corner -- followed closely by summer vacation -- but your mailbox is probably starting to bulge with graduation announcements, as well.

Lots of congratulations are in order.

The students we're thinking of this week are the five seniors who were honored by the Afro-Americans for an Academic Society in Pasco.

These young women have been consistent in making the mark. They have maintained at least a 3.0 GPA for nine years.

High school today is vastly different from high school of days gone by. Today's youth -- in many cases -- are dedicated and smart and focused. These honorees showcase those talents.

We wish them all well in their endeavors and admire their determination.

The home that students built

Young people who build houses as part of their schooling are learning about construction and business. Both are important lessons.

And, for many people, those skills are probably more easily learned on a job site than in a classroom. But it takes a coordinated effort to manage this style of hands-on learning.

We like the cooperation we see between businesses and schools to make it happen. For example, Lowe's Home Improvement donated $100,000 last year to the Pasco Vocational Building Program -- the program that allows students from Pasco, Chiawana and New Horizons high schools the chance to build a home.

It's a tangible way that local businesses support education, with the added bonus of increasing our tax base, which is also a boost to education.

Helping to build a quality home gives the students a sense of accomplishment. Plus some kids just do better with a power tool than they do with a textbook.

The program may well infuse Mid-Columbia trade groups or inspire students to seek college training in construction fields.

It's a win all the way around. And we're thankful these students have the opportunity to prove to themselves that they can create something of value.

A tale of two tails

Two very different stories involving dogs were published right next to each other one day this week.

One was about animal abuse and one was about a service animal.

We try not to comment about ongoing court cases. The judicial system ought to sort out such things before we chime in. And it is Thankful Thursday, when we try to stay positive. But we do have to say that of the two stories, we are saddened by the first one and inspired by the second.

Hats off today to service animals.

Service animals represent an especially well-trained and responsive group. And fascinating.

Imagine for a few minutes what people could do if we all had the same work ethic and dependability that service animals possess.

Our community has been generous in helping the Chambers-Berry family on its quest to buy a service dog for an autistic son.

The family was almost halfway to its $13,000 goal when Tri-Cities Fever owners (and Ed Berry's employers), kicked in the last $7,000. That's a generous gesture by Teri and J.R. Carr -- and the community that helped in fundraising efforts.

We're grateful every time we see people helping each other. And we're grateful for the enrichment animals bring to our lives.

Human trafficking

Another story that leaves us with mixed emotions is the effort one Mid-Columbia church has made to buy a home in Cambodia to help women escape from the sex trade.

The good news is that members of the Bethel congregations have raised money and purchased a home to help women who are being held as sex slaves.

The sobering news is that the problem isn't limited to Cambodia.

It's a worldwide -- and local -- problem. And one that until someone shines a light on it, will always remain in the shadows.

Sometimes we don't like what see.

But we're grateful that someone is willing to show us how we can make things better.