‘Anything’s Possible’

Southwestern Senior Named Scholarship Program Winner

Southwestern senior Hannah Finson, pictured at top in red, was named the 2017 Chautauqua Area Scholarship Program winner at a ceremony Saturday at Southwestern Central School. Pictured, from left, are Kiana Vullo, Chloe Petry, Evelyn Rowan, Finson, Mikayla Johnson, Anna Sena, Lauren Nelson and Taylor Brightman. P-J photos by Jordan W. Patterson

The second annual Chautauqua Area Scholarship Program commenced Saturday with style and fashion inside Southwestern Central School. By the end of the night, Southwestern senior Hannah Finson was named the Chautauqua Area Scholarship Program winner.

“I’m speechless,” Finson said after winning the $4,000 grand prize.

The Chautauqua Area Scholarship Program, formerly known as the Lakewood Area Distinguished Young Women Program, debuted last year. The program showcases the talents of young women via a musical number, fitness routines, comedy and a range of other talents. Winners of different categories give contestants specific scholarships.

“She did an amazing job,” Chris Yocum, program director, said of Finson. “She has shown grace and poise through this whole process and just a truly amazing 17 year old.”

This year’s theme was “Anything’s Possible,” and for Finson and the rest of the young women, that proved to be true.

Third-grade students perform Saturday at the Chautauqua Area Scholarship Program. Each senior in the program mentored a third-grader.

The 15 contestants performed on stage inside Southwestern and showcased their unique talents in front of a panel of judges.

Mikayla Johnson was the first runner-up, Evelyn Rowan was the second runner-up and Anna Sena was the third runner-up.

The girls finished the night by performing a choreographed dance together. After the performance, each contestant walked onto the stage and answered a question about themselves.

The contestants were joined Saturday by their “little sisters,” third grade students who are mentored by the seniors through the program.

Kaitlyn Healy, the Chautauqua Area Scholarship Program winner from last year, told this year’s contestants they were all winners, and noted that the judges were simply picking a representative of the 15 young women.

Finson, admitting she was speechless at first, praised the other contestants.

“I know that I’m just the representative in a group full of winners,” Finson said. “All these girls are so amazing, and I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.”

Most of the scholarship awards came in pairs, with the lowest amount a particular contestant could win being $500. In total, the scholarship fund was over $16,000.

Solo scholarship winners were as follows: Taylor Brightman, the Director’s Award; Chloe Petry, Personal Growth Award; and Kiana Vullo, Mentoring Award.

The winners for the Scholastic Achievement were Petry and Finson; scholarship for Panel Interview were Brightman and Lauren Nelson; scholarship for Talent winners were Johnson and Finson; scholarship for Fitness were Brightman and Johnson; scholarship for Self Expression were Sena and Hannah; winners of the Spirit Award were Rowan and Petry; and scholarship for Impressions were Nelson and Finson.

“I think it was an awesome evening,” Yocum said. “Every single one of these girls shined. It just was really tough, I wouldn’t have wanted to be a judge this year. Every single one of these girls is amazing.”