Thousands of boys and girls throughout Utah have participated in the spelling improvement program, another educational service of the Deseret News. It is designed for younsters in fourth through eighth grades.

This educational service, designed to improve the spelling skills of students, is a year-long program climaxed with a state spelling bee. Now in its 15th year, more than 40 public, parochial and private school districts are participating.Throughout the nation, an estimated 9 million students in fourth through eighth grades are involved in the program, according to the National Spelling Bee headquarters in Cincinnati.

In Utah, public districts are conducting competition in their own area while the Catholic Office of Education, Lutheran and private schools along the Wasatch Front compete among themselves to select a representative to the state championship finals on April 5 at Bryant Intermediate School in Salt Lake City.

The Deseret News spelling program is sponsored in cooperation with the Utah Education Association, Utah State Office of Education, and State PTA.

The state winner and one parent will be guests of the Deseret News to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., May 27-31.

The following are Utah spelling champions who represented the Beehive State at the national competition, along with their rankings in competition, the total number of spellers and the word that was their downfall:

1977 - Jana Winters, 50th of 94, juratory.

1978 - Cliff Morrison, 40th of 106, cerecloth.

1979 - Cliff Morrison, 31st of 109, sinologist.

1980 - Cliff Morrison, 12th of 112, cedilla.

1981 - Mona Wu, 77th of 120, julienne.

1982 - Mitchell Kalauli, 65th of 126, soutane.

1983 - Karen Ellis, 67th of 137, meliorate.

1984 - Blake Comish, 101st of 151, triskelion.

1985 - Sandra Stephenson, 149th of 168, commorancy.

1986 - Christopher Gregory, 38th of 174, surrogate.

1987 - Monique Child, 107th of 185, gnotobiotics.

1988 - Tara Huber, 38th of 200, orchestrelle.

1989 - Colleen Huber, 19th of 222, hypophilous.

1990 - Christopher Thorpe, 117th of 226, epicene.