This statewide academic competition recognizes the achievements of Utah’s high school seniors in 15 different categories: Agriculture Science, Business and Marketing, Computer Technology, Dance, English, Family and Consumer Sciences, World Languages, General Scholarship, Mathematics, Music, Science, Social Science, Speech and Drama, Skilled and Technical Science Education, and Visual Arts.

Each of the finalists will be judged on personal achievements and awards compiled in their portfolios as well as their interviews with the judges. The finalists will be judged on scholarship, leadership, and citizenship. The three judges in each category come from local communities, Dixie State University, Snow College, and Southern Utah University 

The day’s events will include not only the judging but a banquet held in honor of the finalists and their families to be followed by the Awards Program in the evening . A winner and two runners-up in each of the categories will be announced. These deserving scholars will receive a Sterling Scholar pin or charm along with a cash prize. Finalists from each high school will also receive a Sterling Scholar Certificate. Many colleges and universities in Utah offer scholarships to both the winners and the runners-up to help these students in achieving their goals. Some of these scholarships include cash amounts up to $2500 or full tuition waivers. The support from the higher educational institution in the state is much appreciated and well used by Sterling Scholar recipients.

Since its inception, the program has expanded from its origins in Salt Lake City to become a statewide competition that continues to publicly recognize outstanding seniors and encourage academic excellence. The program began in the early 1960’s, when Steve Hale, a Deseret News columnist; Lavor Chaffin, an education reporter at the Desert News; and Keith West, the Deseret News’ director of marketing; realized that while their newspaper had been recognizing outstanding athletes for years, there was no mechanism in place to recognize outstanding scholars. Together with the board of education, they developed the Sterling Scholars program.

We applaud all those who labor to make this program a reality each year. The parents and teachers of all nominees have dedicated much of their time to ensuring the success of these students. We give a heartfelt thanks to all that have donated so much time and energy into providing this opportunity for the best and brightest in Utah, Congratulations to all the nominees and we wish you the best in all your future endeavors.