When we talk about the future of Hermiston, it seems economic growth, event centers and housing projects are the staples of the conversation.

But it’s good to see our schools are keeping in mind the materials that will build a truly great city and community — a well-educated population.

For every step the city takes in building up infrastructure, attracting business and creating an identity, the schools are turning out classes of students prepared to take on the challenge in the future.

One of the biggest problems the educational system has faced in Hermiston is providing that next step for students. The Blue Mountain?Community College campus in Hermiston has been a nice tool, but students can’t get all the credits they need there and don’t have the means to go out of town for college.

Or at least they don’t think they do.

Monday’s college fair at Hermiston High School was an eye-opener for many of the 400-or-so attendees, who were introduced to the many ways to make post-secondary education a reality.

The new Eastern Oregon Higher Education Center will help students continue their schooling right here in town, but for many the next step to a university can be daunting.

If students are introduced to the idea as freshmen that, yes, college is a viable option, is affordable if they work for it and will greatly enhance their lives, it will make their high school education that much more relevant. And that message should extend all the way down to junior high and elementary school as well.

Not to sound too cheesy, but that’s what Hermiston’s future is all about.

There are some students who will graduate from Hermiston High School, pursue college education out of town or state, settle somewhere else and never look back.

But there are others — many others — who will go out of town to get that education and bring it right back here, assuming the city is continuing to create opportunities for jobs and careers. And those hometown products will be Hermiston’s leaders, will be the ones responsible for the city’s growth in the future and for expanding the educational opportunities for the next generation.

Education is cyclical, and with Hermiston’s interest in the process, we should be seeing a great return down the road.

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