Valley Forge High School senior named National Honor Society Scholarship semifinalist
April 15, 2019
For Valley Forge senior Kelly Finitsas, high school has been more than just earning good grades.
Finitsas was one of 575 students nationwide to be named a National Honor Society (NHS) Scholarship semifinalist, resulting in a $3,200 award from the group to be used in college. Over 11,000 high school students apply for a scholarship.
According to their website, over one million students in all 50 states participate National Honor Society. Currently, Finitsas is finishing her tenure as vice-president of the Valley Forge chapter of NHS.
“National Honor Society is a national organization that allows students to participate in volunteer service, while also being recognized for their good academic standing,” Finitsas explained. “It’s also an opportunity to grow as leaders and to collaborate with other students to achieve common goals.”
NHS is built on four pillars to guide students: Scholarship, Service, Leadership and Character. Students are required to have a 3.5 GPA (Grade Point Average) and have over 30 hours of community service prior to beginning their junior year. After being accepted into NHS, students must continue to serve their community, maintain good grades and be involved in school life.
For Finitsas, giving back to the local community came in a number of ways. She volunteered her time at St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Cleveland as a counselor at Rainbow Camp. The five-week camp provides fun, recreation and interaction for a wide range of children, including those with disabilities. In addition, she volunteers her time at the St. Paul Greek Orthodox Festival each year.
“I like to volunteer at organizations that I have a personal connection with,” Finitsas said. “My sister is hard of hearing, so that’s what made me appreciate working with those campers so much during those couple of summers. Also being Greek, I’m very passionate about being Greek. I do Greek dance, I went to Greek school, I know the language and the heritage. That’s what is so satisfying about giving back to my church community, is that we can spread the culture.”
To earn NHS scholarship money, students had to write an essay discussing their volunteer activities and how the four main pillars were implemented in their lives. For Finitsas, one pillar clearly stood out.
“My personal favorite is the leadership pillar,” Finitsas said. “Leadership, to me, it’s not so much guiding people and telling them what to do. It’s more giving them the confidence to become leaders themselves. It’s giving back, it’s not just guiding other people.”
Finitsas’ leadership at Valley Forge did not go unrecognized by NHS club adviser, Carolyn Holt-Balis, who credits Finitsas with being an integral part of the annual induction ceremony.
“Kelly is not a public speaker,” said Holt-Balis. “For her to plan, participate and help run the induction, she did an awesome job. I think that she felt fulfilled and she felt it was out of her comfort zone a little bit at the beginning. I think that she really blossomed from that and really grew from being in front of 300 people.”
This fall, Finitsas will be attending Ohio State University on a full scholarship to study Electrical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. She also received a scholarship to fully pay for her room and board during her first year. That scholarship was earned through another written essay submitted to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Finitsas’ essay described her desire to start a Greek dance group to teach students participating in university Greek life.
Ever humble, and with the sky being the limit, Finitsas recognizes the positive influence that Valley Forge, Greenbriar, Parma Park and the entire community had on her life.
“Of course I’m excited to continue my life,” Finitsas expressed. “Just being a student of the Parma City Schools is definitely something I’m very blessed with. I don’t think if I had gone anywhere else, I would be the person I am today. There are just so many different personalities and types of people in this community. As a student, I have come to appreciate just a broad range of people, and that has really set me up for success.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Valley Forge senior Kalliopi (Kelly) Finitsas, left, was awarded a $3,200 scholarship through the National Honor Society. She was the vice-president of the group this year. Valley Forge’s adviser for NHS is Carolyn Holt-Balis, right.