CCA Senior Wins Prestigious National Scholarship for Foster Care Advocacy

By: Alyssa Mendez
Franco Ruocco, a member of CCA’s graduating Class of 2023, was the first student in school history and one of four students in Broward County to win a National Honor Society scholarship for his commitment to leadership and service to the foster care community. We invite you to learn more about his story, impact, and how you too can be a part of God’s mission of restoration.

It’s graduation season, which means seniors around the country are getting ready to take a giant leap into “the real world”. For those who will be continuing their studies at a college or university, the financial implications of higher education are significant. Forbes recently reported that the average cost to obtain a bachelor’s has increased 169% between 1980 and 2020 (Hahn, 2023).

To help families offset these costs and lessen the need for student loans, Calvary Christian Academy’s (CCA) school counselors encourage families to explore all need-based and merit-based financial aid opportunities that are available to them. CCA seniors who have been inducted into the school’s National Honor Society (NHS) chapter are eligible to apply for an NHS scholarship that is awarded to 12th grade public and private school students around the country.

This year, the organization awarded $2 million in scholarships to nearly 600 students, and CCA Fort Lauderdale senior Franco Ruocco was not only one of those recipients, but also the first student in the school’s 23-year history to receive this scholarship! As a National Semifinalist, he was awarded $3,200, which will go toward funding his college education at Bowdoin College in Maine where he is committed to play baseball and major in economics. Only three other 12th grade students in Broward County received this distinction, and Franco was the only student to represent a school in the City of Fort Lauderdale.

Serving the Foster Care Community

NHS scholarship recipients are selected based on their demonstration of the organization’s four pillars: scholarship, service, leadership, and character. They must be chapter members in good standing who have made a profound impact in their communities.

Franco’s passion for the overburdened foster care system led him to start the first Students Speak Up for Kids (SSUFK) chapter in Broward County at CCA with the support of CCA’s High School Administration. SSUFK empowers youth with opportunities to serve and speak up for the children involved in the local foster care system and to support the Guardian ad Litem program, which represents abused, abandoned and neglected children in court and in the community.

As founder and president of CCA’s chapter, Franco was involved in organizing and executing a Youth Suicide Prevention Awareness event for CCA parents in partnership with HCA Florida Woodmont Mental Health Center. The 60+ parents in attendance learned about warning signs, how to help those in mental crisis, and were given the opportunity to support teens in foster care – who face a higher risk of suicide – through an essential item donation drive.

Franco has also been able to bless children in the local foster care system through his involvement in other SSUFK service projects, including:

  • Book Drive – 200 books collected for the annual Storybook Village, where foster children spend the day reading and choose books to bring home
  • Movie Night – assembled goodie bags that included movie snacks and Google Play gift cards so foster children could rent/buy the Minions: Rise of Gru movie
  • National Child Abuse and Prevention Month Awareness – reached 1,500+ people through an educational campaign that involved creating and distributing blue pinwheels (to represent childhood innocence and a bright future) as well as flyers
  • Storytime Project – club members recorded themselves reading children’s books; the YouTube links to those recordings were printed and tied onto stuffed animals

Franco has also been named a Miami Herald Silver Knight nominee in the Social Science category for the leadership he has demonstrated through SSUFK. Award winners will be announced at the 65th Annual Silver Knight Awards Ceremony on May 25, 2023 at 7:00 PM at the James L. Knight Center in Miami.

If you also have a burden to care for families impacted by the foster care system, you’re invited to attend one of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale’s Foster Care Weekend services (May 20–21, 2023) to learn how you can make a difference in the name of Jesus.

Graduating with the Highest Honors

Franco is among CCA Fort Lauderdale's 198 graduating seniors who will be turning their tassels on May 19, 2023 at 7:00 PM; all are welcome to watch the ceremony online at He will be graduating with nearly 500 community service hours along with the following CCA distinctions:

  • College Preparatory Diploma with Distinction
  • STEM Endorsement
  • World Languages Endorsement
  • National Honor Society
  • Community Service
  • Honor Roll (3.7 GPA or higher)
  • Top 10% GPA
  • Science National Honor Society
  • National English Honor Society

Franco is also honored to have served as the captain for CCA’s varsity baseball team this school year and been named Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year at this year’s Varsity Sports Awards ceremony. He also co-founded CCA’s Future Business Leaders of America chapter, serving as president for the past two years. Our prayer is that all the experiences and opportunities Franco maximized during his two years as a CCA student will continue to mirror the compassionate heart and excellence of Jesus Christ.

“Franco is a true leader of his senior class and is one of the most respectful young men I have encountered in my career,” said Mrs. Joan Ramsay, Franco’s school counselor at CCA. “He is extremely driven, kind-hearted, and passionate. I have been inspired by his diligence and his servant's heart.”

Getting Involved in NHS

NHS Scholarship applications for the 2023-24 school year open September 2023. Rising 12th grade students/chapter members who are interested in applying can click here for more information and should connect with CCA’s NHS adviser, Mrs. Ramsay.

In order to receive an invitation to apply to CCA’s NHS chapter each February, CCA students in grades 9-11 must have a minimum GPA of 3.75. Students must then complete an application, obtain letters of recommendation from teachers, write an essay, and receive approval from High School Administration.

The NHS induction ceremony takes place each year in April. This year, 85 freshmen, sophomores, and juniors were inducted! These students will get to represent CCA and the Lord at school activities and local outreach events while earning community service hours that are needed to graduate. NHS seniors also earn a gold honor cord to wear the day of their graduation ceremony.

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