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Sterling Scholar Awards: Information

Published: Monday, Aug. 31 2015 5:48 a.m. MDT

The Sterling Scholar Awards are open to Utah public high school seniors. It is expected that each school will nominate one candidate in each of the 13 categories. Each school may nominate only one student in each of 13 categories. (A school must fill at least 10 of the 13 categories.) A student may be nominated in only one category. PLEASE NOTE: The selection process and nomination of students as Sterling Scholar nominees is left entirely up to each high school.

Sterling Scholar officials consider a student a high school senior if he/she will be graduating with the senior class in 2011.

High school seniors who attend college classes full or part-time or are classified as foreign exchange students are eligible for the Sterling Scholar Awards. However, the program is designed to recognize scholastic achievement in Utah public high schools. To be selected a Sterling Scholar nominee, students must have extraordinary scholarship scores as well as service in leadership and community service/citizenship opportunities at their Utah public high school. It is up to each public high school to determine if an individual has been in attendance enough to experience these leadership and community service/citizenship opportunities.

Qualifications

Selection of winners and runners-up will be made on the basis of Scholarship, Leadership and Community Service/Citizenship as demonstrated through activity and interest in an area of high school education characterized by one of the program's categories.

Each Sterling Scholar nominee's entire school experience will be considered, although emphasis will be placed on the high school years. High school officials are urged to nominate scholars for categories in which the students are genuinely interested and qualified.

The general measurement will be defined and applied in this manner:

A. SCHOLARSHIP (50 POINTS). Scholarship consists of two sections: Overall Scholarship and Category Scholarship. A students overall GPA, difficulty of class schedule, standardized test scores such as ACT, class ranking and similar scholarship items attained during high school will be used to establish 25 points for Overall Scholarship. The other 25 point section is Category Scholarship, which emphasizes the nominee's ability and talent in their specific category. While judges will seek evidence of growth and service in all activities, the nominee's talent and aptitude towards their category will receive particular emphasis.

B. LEADERSHIP (25 POINTS). The qualities of leadership in Utah public high schools can be measured in part by the responsibilities placed on a student by his/her teachers and fellow students. However, evidence of positive influence with fellow students also shall be considered an indication of leadership.

C. COMMUNITY SERVICE/CITIZENSHIP (25 POINTS). Each Sterling Scholar nominee should exhibit a record of high standards of citizenship throughout his/her high school years. Service to school, community or other organizations will be considered. The nominee's attitude toward and acceptance of responsibility in contributing roles, as well as seeking out service opportunities, will be especially important. Evidence of a long-term commitment to service will also receive particular attention.

SPECIAL NOTE: It is the intent of the sponsors that the above Sterling Scholar Awards judging criteria be based on high school and community experiences from the 10th through 12th grades. For this reason, no specific requirement — such as preparation of assignments of special art projects — is required. The sponsors wish to reward students for scholastic excellence over the course of their high school years — not for a special effort directed specifically toward the Sterling Scholar program.

Method of nomination

Ultimately, selecting nominees is the responsibility of the school principal and not the Deseret News or KSL 5 Television. No specific method of selection is required, although the process provides an excellent opportunity to encourage scholarship. Accordingly, the opportunity to apply to the Sterling Scholar program should be open to as many students as possible.

The following procedure is encouraged to determine each school's Sterling Scholar.

1. Principal selects and assigns a committee of school faculty, including a Sterling Scholar coordinator, to administer the nomination process of public high school seniors for Sterling Scholar Awards participation. (The Deseret News and KSL 5 Television do not take part in the selection of nominees. This is left up to the individual schools, with the principals making the final decision.) ALL QUESTIONS FROM STUDENTS AND PARENTS NEED TO BE DIRECTED TO THE INDIVIDUAL HIGH SCHOOL COORDINATOR, PRINCIPAL AND/OR ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL AND NOT THE DESERET NEWS OR KSL 5 TELEVISION. ALL INQUIRIES MUST BE HANDLED BY THE SCHOOL COORDINATOR, PRINCIPAL OR ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL, who is responsible for contacting the Deseret News or KSL 5 Television for clarification. (This includes parents, students, private teachers, etc.) FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS RULE MAY RESULT IN DISQUALIFICATION OF NOMINEE.

2. The committee should create a questionnaire that is distributed to students as a guide for evaluating activities, achievements and ambitions within an area of high school education that is characterized by one of the Sterling Scholar categories.

3. The completed questionnaire and supporting materials should be submitted to the principal and/or assigned committee for review. Departmental advisers should be contacted for aid in nominee recommendations based on the submitted questionnaire and additional information.

4. Ultimately, the principal will determine which individual in each category will be submitted as the school's official nominee.

Judging

In the Wasatch Front area, with 57 public high schools, semi-final judging is held on a regional basis to select finalists. Two to three judges will be provided in each category for each regional location if possible. Judges will come from among public high school educators, higher education and/or the private sector. Final judging occurs two weeks later. Two to four judges will work in each category, usually selected from the State Office of Education, higher education and among Utah's business and professional communities. Judges in each category work together but independently of all other judges. There are no provisions to allocate or distribute winners or runners-up among the schools. Judges are instructed to select the most qualified in each category without regard to school affiliation.

Judging will be based on portfolios, exhibits and personal interviews. All nominees must be present at the appropriate time and place for their personal interview. Interviews cannot be changed to another day to accommodate individual needs. There are no exceptions. No provisions will be made to schedule special interviews to suit individual needs or for a videotape, audiotape, PowerPoint presentation, etc. or another individual to represent that nominee. Teleconferencing is not permitted. ALL DECISIONS OF THE JUDGES ARE FINAL. Officials from the Deseret News and KSL 5 Television will not overrule any judges' decision absent clear and convincing proof of fraud or abuse. The Deseret News and KSL 5 Television reserves the right to reschedule judging of interviews and will notify nominees (schools) as may be appropriate.

Formula for judging

Judges will rate scholars on the following scale: Scholarship, 50 points (25 each for Overall and Category Scholarship); Leadership, 25 points; and Community Service/Citizenship, 25 points. To arrive at a composite score, judges will assign each scholar a rating from 0 to 50 on Scholarship and from 0 to 25 each in Leadership and Community Service/Citizenship, and then add the scores together such as in the following example:

Scholarship:

Overall Scholarship: ... 23
Category Scholarship: ... 24
Leadership: ... 21
Community Service/Citizenship: ... 24
TOTAL SCORE: ... 92

Please note that many categories are very broad in description, therefore it is very unlikely that each Sterling Scholar nominee will have experience in all areas listed within these descriptions.

Nominee portfolios will be available to judges several hours before interviews begin. It is recommended that judges first read the portfolios and assign preliminary scores. FOLLOWING THE 10-MINUTE INTERVIEW, SCORE SHEETS SHOULD BE RESTUDIED AND NEW VALUES ASSIGNED. In this respect, each judge should work independently, but the selection of finalists, runners-up or winners is made as a panel of judges. Semi-final judges select five finalists and final judges select one winner and two runners-up. Judges MUST NOT allow ties, co-winners or additional finalists.

Supplies will be made available to judges for implementing the above formula. Judging sheets, scores and notes SHOULD NOT be disclosed to anyone at anytime. All paperwork listing scores for individual scholars should be destroyed and results of competition should remain confidential until official announcements are made.

Guidelines for preparing portfolios

1. Each nominee's portfolio should be enclosed in an official Sterling Scholar Awards portfolio cover supplied to each high school by organizers. The name, category and high school of each nominee must be listed beneath the logo on the front cover of the portfolio in any manner, including printed label, calligraphy or laser printing.

2. Portfolios may not contain more than 10 single sheet pages. Clear sheet protectors may be used so that pertinent material may be displayed effectively on both sides. Lamination may also be utilized for cover and/or inside pages. Therefore, if a portfolio contained the maximum number of pages, it would allow 20 "exposures" on the 10 sheets. PLEASE NOTE: English category nominees are allowed four additional single-sided sheets for a total of 24 "exposures." Nominees are encouraged to utilize all pages.

3. • Page 1: nominee's ID page (not supplied by Sterling Scholar organizers) which includes only the nominee's name, photograph, category and school.

• Pages 2 and 3: student entry forms (provided by organizers).

• Page 4 (and if needed 5): a certified list of high school grades must be stamped bearing official school seal or principal's signature and MUST include class ranking, cumulative GPA and ACT scores. Proof of ACT scores required if not on transcript.

• Page 5 or 6 (depending on whether or not nominees required two pages for transcript): the principal's report (provided by organizers).

• Page 6 or 7: the standardized test data sheet (provided by organizers).

• Page 7 (or 8): should be a one-page letter of recommendation by any teacher/instructor. Included in the letter should be the teacher's assessment of the individual with specific reasons for the recommendation plus examples of evidence as to why "this is the best student I have ever had" etc. Any remaining sheets following these required pages is up to the nominee's discretion. It is helpful for judges if sections for leadership and community service/citizenship are somehow identified.

4. PORTFOLIOS ARE NOT TO BE SCRAPBOOKS. Please be selective of material. These booklets must not contain any of the following: heavy cardboard, cloth pages, or more than two layers of paper used for design purposes. Please do not include originals of medals and award certificates. A photocopy of these items is recommended. Judges prefer more explanation rather than an overload of certificates and artifacts. Please describe what was meaningful, what you learned and what you accomplished.

5. A spiral, velo or similar binding, available at most copy shops, may be used to complete the portfolio. (No loose-leaf binders please.) It is necessary that portfolios open completely and quickly to facilitate the judging process. These booklets must be very durable because they must remain intact throughout the competition. Therefore we strongly suggest laminating the front and back covers to add reinforcement and durability to the portfolios.

6. Portfolios not adhering to these guidelines may result in deduction of points at the discretion of the judges.

A word about photographs

Nominee photographs should be approximately 3x5 inches of head (perpendicular) with shoulders only. (No hands, books, flowers, etc. in photo). Photographs should be in color if possible.

Photograph students individually against any PLAIN or light-colored background. Avoid any background that would distract from the subject. If photographing outdoors, shoot with the sun or light on the student's face, never against his or her back. (NO LASER PRINTS.)

All nominees' photos should be placed on a disk in .jpg format with the name of the student, category and school. A print-out with the required information should also be submitted along with the disk. However, if a school does not have the equipment to create a disk, individual photos may be submitted. A typewritten label with required information must be placed on the back of each photo.

General information & instructions

TO ALL FACULTY, ADMINISTRATORS, PARENTS AND STUDENTS: PLEASE READ HANDBOOK CAREFULLY. Most questions will be answered by a review of these policies. Nominees MUST follow all guidelines and meet all school and Deseret News deadlines.

ALL PARENTS AND STUDENTS MUST SIGN A PARENT/STUDENT DECLARATION BEFORE PARTICIPATING IN THE STERLING SCHOLAR PROGRAM.

1. Entries will be accepted only from the principal of each school. This ensures the integrity of each nominee.

2. Nominees are to list their full name on all Sterling Scholar forms just as they wish it to appear in the newspaper publication. For example, PLEASE do not list parents as Mr. & Mrs. Bob Jones, instead include both mother and father's name i.e. Bob and Sue Jones. Organizers will be sensitive to situations involving divorced or single parents and step-parents. Please make intentions clear.

3. A foreign-born student attending an English-speaking public high school may not use English or their native tongue as a "foreign language." American Sign Language is not considered a foreign language. Nominees MUST be able to listen, speak, read and write their language.

4. For those participating in the Wasatch Front Sterling Scholar area, each school (coordinator, or principal) must complete and submit the "Report of School Nominees" form and "Parent/Student Declaration" form along with the nominee photos on disk along with a printout on or before Jan. 14, 2011. This deadline should not be confused with the deadline for portfolio submission on Jan. 31, 2011. Each list must be accompanied by a portrait photo, approximately 3x5 inches of each nominee. All photos should be in color. All photos should be placed on a disk in a .jpg format alone with the name of the student, category and school. Please include a printout of photos with the above information also. (If a school does not have the proper equipment to create a disk, individual color photos may be submitted as has been the procedure in the past. Please remember to include a typewritten label with required information on the back.) If individual photos are submitted, they will be returned to the school. (NO LASER PRINTS.) The Jan. 14, 2011 date should not be confused with the deadline for portfolio submission on Jan. 31, 2011. (This is the deadline for high school coordinators to have school portfolios to the Deseret News. Students and parents should check with their school coordinator for school deadlines.)

5. Each Sterling Scholar nominee should submit a portfolio containing entry forms, exhibits and other information. This portfolio must conform to "Guidelines for Preparing Portfolios". For the Wasatch Front area, each school's portfolios should be delivered to the Deseret News on or before Jan. 31, 2011. Portfolios can be delivered in person (by school coordinator, principal or assistant principal only) or shipped as a school to:

Deseret News
Marketing/Promotions/Special Events Department
55 North 300 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

PLEASE NOTE: Portfolios will not be accepted on an individual basis or by anyone other than the principal, assistant principal or coordinator. ALSO: Portfolios will be returned only to the school coordinator, principal or assistant principal the night of the awards ceremony.

6. Exhibits are allowed in all categories for interviews. Nominees will be responsible for transporting exhibits to and from places of judging. Exhibits that cannot be accommodated in portfolios should not be sent to the Deseret News but should be reserved for judging interviews. Remember, upon entering the building, the number of exhibits taken to the interview is limited to what can be carried in the arms of the nominee in one trip without the help of others. (Parents, fellow nominees, etc. ARE NOT ALLOWED to assist in any way.)

7. Students will be judged on their portfolios, exhibits and personal interviews. The interviews are important and nominees should prepare for them. ALL NOMINEES MUST BE PRESENT AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME AND PLACE FOR THE INTERVIEWS. FAILURE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PERSONAL INTERVIEW WILL BE GROUNDS FOR DISQUALIFICATION. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS. All nominees must be present at the appropriate time and place for the interviews. Failure to participate in the personal interview may be grounds for disqualification. There are no exceptions. Depending on unforseen circumstances, the Deseret News-KSL 5 Television may reschedule judging of interviews. No provisions will be made to schedule special interviews to suit individual needs or for a videotape, audiotape, PowerPoint presentation, teleconferencing or another individual to represent that nominee. OFFICIALS FROM THE DESERET NEWS AND KSL 5 TELEVISION WILL NOT OVERRULE ANY JUDGE'S DECISION. In addition, it is not practical to provide for special interview circumstances such as unusual musical instruments that are not available in most high schools. For example, if a nominee needs to play an organ or a marimba for their interview demonstration and an organ or a marimba is not available at the judging site, a video tape may accompany the nominee to the interview but advance notice is required.

8. Please remember, nominees should be counseled to bring only pertinent exhibits to interviews. Any samples, demonstration presentations, keepsakes, or any offering that could be interpreted as gifts for the judges are in extremely poor taste, are not allowed and may result in disqualification.

9. Regional programs follow these same basic Sterling Scholar guidelines but with their own schedule. Some procedures may vary.

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