A week of celebration and blessings

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It was quite a week.

No Iím not talking about the amazing string of successes for President Trump such as dedicating the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem or the release of three prisoners by North Korea. Those were remarkable, for sure, but they have to take a back seat to the really big news ó†a momentous week for the Miele family.

It all started a week ago Saturday when my son Carmen graduated cum laude from the University of Montana with a Bachelor of Arts in physics and a minor in mathematics.

I carted the rest of the family down to Missoula to attend my first college graduation (yep, I even missed my own, but thatís another story) and we had a great time watching Carmen on the Jumbotron at Adams Center as he got his diploma (well, a promissory note for a diploma that will be sent to him in July). Missed out the previous day when he also received an Outstanding Senior Award from the Mortar Board Society, but, hey, we already knew he was outstanding. After all, Carmen received pretty much every departmental honor he could in his four years at UM.

The following day was Motherís Day, and so it was all about my wife Yuzhao, who has been the linchpin to this family since we married in 2008. It was fun to surprise her with improvised Chinese pancakes (chopped brussell sprouts instead of scallions) and then to watch her get (just a bit) emotional when she got her presents from our 7-year-old son Huzhao and our 18-year-old daughter Meredith. Yuzhao loves to encourage creativity so both of the kids did artwork for the holiday, and the honest emotion was endearing.

Tuesday, Huzhao got his day in the sun when he enjoyed the culmination of a year of piano lessons with the spring recital for Janis Hoffmanís students. Huzhaoís been studying with Jan since he was 3 and heís a delightful pianist who unfortunately makes his Dad look like I slept through all my own lessons when I was a kid!

The next day was a much anticipated day ó the date of the Senior Awards Ceremony at Glacier High School when scholarship recipients would be announced. Meredith is attending Montana State University in the fall to study art, but after watching her brother Carmen rack up the student loans, she was justifiably nervous about how much debt she would need to afford her own college degree.

Fortunately, thanks to the generosity of a bunch of community donors and her own hard work, a large part of that worry has now been lifted off her shoulders. Meredith was awarded five scholarships Wednesday night that will fully pay for her first year of college! Though she will do her own thank-yous, I wanted to acknowledge these donors and their support of higher education as well.

First and foremost for Meredith, that means thanking the John and Ann Taylor Foundation for their support of art students such as Meredith. Their generous scholarship will cover much of Meredithís expenses in the first year, and has an option for renewal in future years. Grant Snell of the Crowley Fleck law firm in Kalispell presented the award to Meredith and shared some of the history of the award with us. We were truly humbled.

In addition, Meredith was one of a number of winners of the Jim and Doris Daley Foundationís generous scholarships for her freshman year. Mr. Daley is now 100 years old and wasnít able to attend the ceremony, but his spirit of hard work and a good attitude will be well represented by Meredith at MSU.

For decades, the James and Flora Hawkins Foundation has given out dozens of scholarships to students across the Flathead Valley, and there were many awarded at Glacier High School last week. During the presentation, I learned that Flora Hawkins had worked at the Inter Lake sometime early in her life, which gives me a special pride in this one.

The Charles and Viola Keller Foundation gives out only a small number of awards each year, and like many civic-minded groups and families, they put a lot of thought and care into their presentation. We are honored to have the support of such a fine local family, and in particular send thanks to Joe and Sheila Keller, who are also active in the Evergreen Lions, another group that awards scholarships.

Finally, Meredith was also awarded an honors scholarship to Flathead Valley Community College. This fine local institution has a tremendous art program of its own, and were she remaining in Kalispell this would be a great opportunity for her. It is not well known, but FVCC offers a tuition waiver for all local high school students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class. One more reason to be grateful to have such a superb college in our midst.

Well, if I didnít mention it yet, I am super proud of all the Miele clan. Twenty-five years ago, I didnít know if I would ever get a chance to have a family, but my dreams all came true ó†three amazing children and a loving wife whose support means everything to me. It was quite a week, and ó†yes ó itís been quite a wonderful life.

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