About 36 high school students representing 12 area schools will gather at the Utah Law and Justice Center, 645 S. 200 East, today at 10 a.m. to participate in the Salt Lake City Area Regional Citizen Bee competition.

Competing students represent Grantsville, Kearns, Midvale, Bingham, Cyprus, Hillcrest, Cottonwood, East, Judge Memorial, Skyline, Taylorsville and West high schools. The students were selected during competitions at the schools.The Citizen Bee, patterned after a spelling bee and sponsored by the Close Up Foundation in Washington, D.C., will place the students in several rounds of elimination. Topics will include U.S. history, geography, economics, U.S. government and current events and will be derived from a study guide prepared by Close Up.

The competition is sponsored by the Salt Lake Tribune, the Utah Council for Social Studies and the state Office of Education. Nationally, it is sponsored by Burger King, KPMG Peat Marwick, the Milken Family Foundation and Kraft General Foods.

The top six students will proceed to the state final, slated for Saturday, April 20, in Salt Lake City. National finals will be in Washington, D.C. in June, where state winners will compete for a total of $48,000 in scholarships, provided by the American Honda Foundation.

The foundation is the largest government-studies program in the nation, bringing more than 24,000 students, teachers and others to Washington, D.C., for a series of weeklong seminars. More than 100,000 students are expected to participate in the Citizen Bee this year.