The competition will take place on the Dixie State College Campus in St. George, and a winner and two runners up will be announced in each of the 15 categories. There are 167 students, representing 14 high schools in five school districts, who will be hoping for the regional title.
Sarah Williams, Sterling Scholar coordinator, said though the program does not award any scholarships, the title of Sterling Scholar automatically qualifies the students for a variety of scholarships at different colleges and universities in Utah. The schools recognize the title as prestigious, and award scholarships as they see fit, she said.
The 15 competition categories are Agriculture Science, Business and Marketing, Computer Technology, Dance, English, Family and Consumer Sciences, Foreign Language, General Scholarship, Mathematics, Music, Science, Social Science, Speech & Drama, Trade and Technical Education, and Visual Arts.
According to the Sterling Scholar Handbook, each school can nominate students in one or all 15 categories. However, only one student can be nominated per category and each student must be a senior. Students chosen by their respective schools must meet the Sterling Scholar Standards. For example, they must exhibit extraordinary scholarship scores and service in leadership and citizenship.
Williams said how the Sterling Scholars are chosen at each school is determined by the school, and they all do it a little differently. As long as they meet the standards, they move on to the region competition.
The region competition is organized by the Southwest Educational Development Center, which is the regional service center for the Southwest Region, Williams said. The schools turned in their nominations to SEDC in December, moving their chosen students on to the regional competition.
For the competition, students worked hard to compile a portfolio to be examined by the judges. According to a press release from SEDC, students will be judged on their interview with the judges and on personal achievements and awards compiled in their portfolios.
There will be three judges in each category and they are chosen from local communities, Southern Utah University and Dixie State College.
Portfolios include school transcripts, a letter of recommendation from a teacher, a list of awards, honors and achievements, and other required forms. Students then have space in the portfolio to display awards, honors and achievements.
For example, Williams said art students can put photos or copies of some of their work in a portfolio, English students can show samples of their writing. It is an opportunity to show how they excel in that particular subject, she said.
Contestants will do interviews the day of the competition, April 3, and students in categories such as music and dance can show off their talents as part of their interviews.
The awards are presented at 7:00PM, April 3. Before the awards program there is a banquet to honor and recognize the Sterling Scholar finalists and their families.
Winners and runners receive a Sterling Scholar pin or charm along with a cash prize. All finalists in the competition receive a Sterling Scholar certificate. The competition is sponsored by Deseret News, KSL TV, Dixie State College, Southern Utah University, and the Southwest Educational Development Center.