Viewpoint: 20th Hellenic Times Scholarship Foundation Gala

By Catherine Tsounis

Electrifying! Dynamic! May 14th 2011 was an evening to remember. The 20th Anniversary of the Hellenic Times Scholarship Foundation (HTSF) Gala was held at the New York Marriott Marquis. A record amount of scholarships was awarded in a time of economic depression. All social classes attended with one purpose: promote the upcoming generation through education scholarships. Margo and John Catsimatidis and Nick Katsoris were aided by their supporters to host this unique event.

Prominent persons honored, presenters, special guests and artists included: Honorees Spiros Milonas and Giles Marini; Guest Presenter Olympia Dukakis; Special Guest Artists Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, Kalomira, Thanos Petrelis, Sister Sledge; Scholarship Recipients; Special Guests, Ernie Anastos, John Aniston, Alexis Christoforous, Michael Constantine, Frank Dicopoulos and Nick Gregory. For more information, visit

Scholar Philip Halikias (right) congratulated
by grandfather Dr. Robert Halikias

The 2011 Scholarship Recipients were from Maryland, Illinois, Pennslyvania, Iowa, New Jersey, Indiana and New York. I personally know two scholars who are from families who give to the community. Maria Lardas, of William Spyropoulos School of St. Nicholas Church in Flushing, was recognized for academic excellence. Her parents, Rev. John Lardas and Presvitera Eleni Paxos Lardas are community activists. Rev. Lardas is the parish priest of Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral in Brooklyn. Champion of the Pi Day competition was Maria Lardas, who was able to recite from memory 100 digits of the never-ending geometric approximation. International Pi Day mirrors the mathematical veneration of Albert Einstein, who shares his birth-date with the holiday, and Larry Shaw, who began celebrating pi in 1988 as an Exploratorium physicist at the San Francisco Exploratorium, according to documentation provided within the 111th Library of Congress. Ms. Lardas’ unique achievement was recognized as a 2011 HTSF Scholar. Visit

Philip Halikias of the Kimisis Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons is an outstanding scholar. He is the son of the late Demetri Halikias and Pauline Halikias. I have known three generations of his family from the late 1960’s. He is continuing the community service first initiated by Dr. Robert and Katherine Halikias of Brooklyn and East Marion, New York. He is a college sophomore at St. Francis De Sales College, Patchogue, New York. He is aiming to become a Greek Orthodox priest. On the evening of January 5th, 2011, The Greek American Homeowners Association of Astoria (GAHOA) and George Fakiris, philanthropist, granted the student a scholarship at the annual Vasilopita in their culture center. Visit and

Scholar Maria Lardas (center) with parents
Presvitera Maria and Rev. John Lardas.

The entertainment was unique. Kalomira is a charismatic singer, beloved by all. Thanos Petrelis’ performance can be described as spectacular. What is unsaid is understood. I am personally honored to be there and see these artists. John Catstimatidis and Nick Katsoris shaped the climate with their down to earth friendly style. Margo Catstimatidis, a person beloved by all, brought out the best in guests and musical artists. Nicholas Katsoris, President of HTSF said “each year thousands of students are faced with few scholarship opportunities, dwindling financial aid and astronomical loans……. We have since granted over 750 scholarships totaling nearly 2 million dollars.”

His eminence, archbishop Demetrios of America, expressed the sentiment of many by saying in his Journal letter “the direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life. This precept from our cultural heritage is celebrated this evening as members of our faith community gather in support of Paideia (/Education).

(Posting date 21 May 2011)

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