Our Voice: Thumbs up to the future

The Tri-Cities was recently named the 10th best place in the country for STEM graduates. The honor means the Tri-Cities is one of the top metro areas nationwide for young people wishing to work in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The distinction comes from NerdWallet, a financial literacy and advocacy site. Some of the factors that went into the decision were career demand and average income for STEM graduates, as well as available jobs and the local economy.

With so many science and engineering firms in the area, in addition to agricultural industries and education programs that promote STEM students, we've always known the Tri-Cities was a hub for STEM careers.

It's nice to get the word out and have some national recognition.

High marks for Lowe's

To the Pasco Lowe's employees who spent at least 400 hours sprucing up a Little League park in time for a state tournament.

The ballpark at Walters Field on West Washington Street was run-down and hadn't had major repairs or updates for probably 30 years, according to Michele Peiffer, the Pasco Babe Ruth president.

The Lowe's employees washed and painted the concession stand and the scorekeeper's box, painted the dugouts and resurfaced the pitcher's mound and home plate. The new look was bound to make a better impression on visiting teams.

Lowe's employees traditionally take on community service projects, with the company providing materials while the employees provide the elbow grease and time.

It's great to have such a community-minded business in the Tri-Cities, and fixing up a neglected ballpark was a terrific choice this time around. It means a lot to kids when someone makes the effort to support their interests.

Student leader

Thumbs Up to Lindsey Schaffer of Richland who is the new student regent for Washington State University.

Her role will be to act as an ambassador between the entire WSU student body, including the branch campuses, and the board.

It's important to have a student's voice among the regents, and Schaffer's credentials are impressive. She has been an undergrad student as well as a graduate student at both the Pullman and Spokane campuses. She also was the student body president at WSU Spokane, so she has some leadership experience to bring to the job.

It's a nice reflection on the Tri-Cities when one of our own is successful in an important leadership role, and Schaffer looks to be a wonderful addition to the WSU board.

Missed their graduation

To the number of high school students who should have graduated this past June but didn't because they either didn't pass the newly required math test, or they didn't bother to take it.

Almost 7,000 in the Class of 2013 didn't graduate on time. This was the first group of kids who were required to pass either an algebra or geometry test in addition to previous requirements that included reading and writing exams.

Some students took a late spring exam and will find out by August if they passed it, while others will find out if the graduation portfolio they turned in as an approved option to the tests will be accepted. Some likely will stay in school another year to finish up.

And it's a sure bet some are lost in the system.

Most school districts work really hard to help students stay on track and meet their high school requirements. But a little effort is required on the student's part.

Overall, about 90 percent of Washington seniors met the math standard by passing either the algebra or geometry exam or an approved alternative this year.

That's an impressive number.

But there is obviously a ways to go. After 13 years, no one should leave the public school system empty-handed.