Olympic Heights seniors Spencer Levy and Ben Zapson named National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists


Olympic Heights seniors Ben Zapson (left) and Spencer Levy are National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists.

The National Merit Scholarship recognizes and honors the academic excellence of students across the United States. Of the 1.5 million students who take the PSAT/NMSQT, 50,000 qualify for the recognition of the National Merit Scholarship Program by being named a commended student. This year, Olympic Heights seniors Spencer Levy and Ben Zapson were selected as semi-finalists for this prestigious scholarship. These two students are reaching new heights and looking to make a difference with the opportunity presented to them. 

Zapson is a great example of what a student should be, as he explained how his years of studying and hard work in school can be displayed on a larger scale beyond his grades. Zapson expressed that for his future, “becoming a finalist or winner could allow me to receive thousands of dollars in scholarship money to relieve the cost of college.” 

Zapson spent hours on end studying review books and using Khan Academy to prepare for the PSAT/NMSQT. His advice for students striving to earn the National Merit Scholarship is to study by using “Khan Academy’s resources and seeking to prepare yourself for all situations that may arise on the test.” 

Levy is another hard-working student at OH who was named as a semi-finalist for the National Merit Scholarship. He is a member of the golf team and the lacrosse team at OH, proving that students can succeed in both academics and athletics simultaneously. 

Levy referred to this test as being very important to his “identity as a student.” He felt that it gave him the ability to “pride [himself] on [his] test-taking ability that [he] demonstrated on the PSAT.” Levy feels that if a student wants to excel in taking the test, it is important for them to pace themselves and work on finishing under the given time limit. 

Of the 50,000 students recognized as commended, only 16,000 semifinalists are named out of these students. Then, 15,000 of the 16,000 are selected as finalists by meeting the qualifying academic requirements, a strong SAT or ACT score, and the application needed to be a finalist. At the end of the school year, the finalists will find out if they are being awarded the scholarship. Approximately 8,200 students will be rewarded with this certificate of excellence. 

Winners can earn one of three different types of the National Merit Scholarship. The first is a $2,500 scholarship, the second is a corporate-sponsored scholarship, and the third is a college-sponsored scholarship. These scholarships can be used for an undergraduate education at a college or university located in the United States. 

The prestigious National Merit award is an opportunity for students to prosper at new levels and show off their testing skills in a way of helping to further their education. OH wishes luck to Zapson and Levy as they continue the National Merit process and work hard to be awarded the scholarship.