WARREN, Mich. – Speaking from the heart, Dr. Peter Cracchiolo was excited Wednesday morning to present this year’s scholarship that honors the memory of his late grandparents.
“Our grandparents supported a great number of organizations, mostly Catholic groups and Catholic organizations, focusing on the underserved as well as education,” Cracchiolo told the few dozen people who gathered inside the school’s chapel.
Then he spoke directly to this year’s scholarship recipient, junior Justin Ambris, who is among 32 students in De La Salle Collegiate’s prestigious International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.
“We wanted to put something together in our grandparents’ name that can continue to provide opportunities for someone like yourself to have the opportunities that my siblings had, my cousins had,” Cracchiolo said. “They’re opportunities that my grandfather did not have. So that’s how we got here and we’re happy you’ve got the scholarship. A worthy recipient, I’m sure. It’s great getting to know you.”
The Peter and Connie Cracchiolo Endowed Scholarship Fund was established two years ago to provide continual aid to De La Salle students who have general financial need or who meet established criteria.
“Our faith teaches us that when we pass on to the next world that we may lose that physical embodiment of those that we love, but the spirit remains,” De La Salle President John M. Knight said. “We know that Peter and Connie Cracchiolo will remain with us forever through the generosity of their grandchildren, through the love and care of so many people that know them and live the values and the beliefs that were so central to them.
“So we are honored to be able to present to you today an outstanding young man, Justin Ambris, who is all that is good about De La Salle.”
Ambris, with his mom, Shannon Whitaker, seated next to him, was very appreciative of the financial support.
“De La Salle is more than just a school to me, it’s a big family,” he said. “Everyone around you is just like a brother, and even the teachers are like cousins, like a close cousin who you can always talk to, or someone you can always go to for help. It really means a lot to me, and I deeply appreciate being here.”
Knight concluded by saying, “St. John de La Salle was all about family. He was not interested in his congregation being priests because that was clerical. He wanted them to be brothers, as in brothers in a family. So Justin, you said it so well, and we are so blessed that your mom, Shannon, is here with you, and we’re so blessed that we’re able to have you as part of our community. You bring so much to us. In some ways you bring more to us than we can ever bring to you. So thank you for being the fine young man that you are.”