Our Voice: Youths in the Mid-Columbia excelling at the challenges

It's that time of year when we will start seeing mortar boards everywhere you go. Most likely, graduation announcements have started arriving in the mailbox.

Stories of scholarship winners and other students being recognized in competitions are on our news pages. It's an exciting time of year.

We're grateful for the enthusiasm of youth and the opportunities ahead for them.

Difficult times are coming. We know that. But so are good times.

Go Team Pasco

The program that used to be called the Bulldog House is pretty impressive. It puts raw materials and tools in the hands of teenagers and comes out a home.

The program started in 1999 at Pasco High. When Chiawana High School opened, the program expanded to include both schools and changed its name.

The rivals still face off on the football field for Gravel Pit honors, but the rest of the year they work together to build comraderie, friendship and homes.

Team Pasco provides hands-on experience for students. It also gives them high school credit. For some it gives them a reason to not drop out of school. And for a few, it provides scholarships and the chance to further their education.

It's a great example of putting education into practice. It might be difficult to convince a kid he needs to learn the Pythagorean Theorem when he's in a classroom, but put him on the roof of a house with a gable, and it all starts to makes sense.

And to really be successful, any program like this needs community buy-in, which this project has enjoyed for 15 years. Many businesses have contributed and continue to help. Lowes, in particular, kicked in $100,000 in 2012.

The private sector's financing of the program provides building materials, but it also builds in the students pride of seeing workmanship and accomplishment.

Hats off to John Wetherby, who is the teacher that has been heading this up since the beginning, and to his crew.

It's a great model for the community and one of the only ones like it in the state.

Tri-Tech skills

Tri-Tech is a great program for students in our area. It gives them marketable skills in a wide array of fields -- and credit toward graduation. It caters to and captures students' interests.

For three students in particular, it also has helped them net almost $100,000 in combined scholarships and is giving them an opportunity to compete in national competitions.

Todd Pink is heading to Kansas City, Mo., to compete in diesel equipment; Tucker Cannon and Roman Zolotnysyk are going to Dearborn, Mich., to compete in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Test.

Congratulations to all three for their accomplishments so far and good luck in their summer competitions and beyond.

Delta students to compete

Delta High is similar to Tri-Tech in that it is a cooperative effort between multiple school districts.

While Tri-Tech is a skills center, Delta is STEM-focused (science, technology, engineering and math).

They are both public schools. And both have students who qualified for national competitions.

The Delta team has six students who qualified to advance in the National History Day competition at the University of Maryland in June. The students are Rachel Rodney, Oleg Tyshchuck, Aaron Macki, Wyatt Schuldheiss, Oscar Romero and Alvaro Ursua.

Cyber Security scholarship

Alicia DeLay was awarded one of nine J. Edgar Hoover national scholarships this week. She recieved $2,500 from the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI and a vote of confidence.

The award will help her pursue her degree from Columbia Basin College in Cyber Security -- a new program at CBC.

While the money is nice, having someone else believe you can achieve your goals is encouraging.

We are confident all the schools in the region will have bragging rights in one category or the next during the coming weeks.

We have a great crop of kids and many of them are working hard.

It's a great thing to see.