Scholastic excellence, citizenship and service accumulated during years of high school studies paid off for 36 students Wednesday evening during the 27th annual Deseret News-KSL Sterling Scholar Awards ceremony.

Twelve winners and 24 runners-up, selected from 180 finalists from 43 high schools along the Wasatch Front, were announced during an hourlong presentation, which was telecast on KSL-TV, Channel 5. The program was held at Cottonwood High School from 7 to 8 p.m. and followed by a reception for the students, parents and friends.Marking more than a quarter of a century, sponsors of the prestigious Sterling Scholar Awards have, since 1962, honored scholars with the same recognition high school athletes often receive for their achievements.

Because of the honor the awards carry, four other geographical areas throughout the state have organized their own programs under Sterling Scholar guidelines. They include northwest, southwest, southeast and central Utah.

Twelve categories make up the program English, speech/drama, mathematics, social science, science, foreign language, visual arts, industrial education, homemaking, business education, music and general scholarship.

A high school teacher nominated by seniors and chosen by the sponsors was honored as recipient of the fifth annual "Most Influential Teacher" award. This year's award went to Delos Jensen, a teacher at West High School. (See separate story.)

Following the introduction of finalists in each category, names of runners-up were announced. Then, as they took their places on the platform, a "suspenseful" review of the top student's accomplishments was read without disclosing the name.

Each remaining student seemed to sort mentally through the achievements as they were listed, but only one eventually stepped forward as the name was disclosed for the first time.

Presenting the awards Wednesday were Norm Bangerter, governor of Utah; Don Lind, mission specialist on the space shuttle Challenger in 1985; Jerold Ottley, director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; and Shelley Thomas, KSL-TV news anchor.

Assisting in the presentations were Kristine Hansen, last year's winner in homemaking from Spanish Fork High School, and Debra Lyn Menssen, 1987 winner in English from Brighton High School. Kent Norton of KSL-TV was master of ceremonies.

Musical numbers were performed by the Hillcrest Jazz Band, Alta High drama department and the Bingham High School Madrigals.

Wednesday's winners and runners-up were chosen by three judges in each category during judging at Skyline High School April 6. They had advanced from regional judging in Ogden, Salt Lake and Provo on March 23.

More than 530 nominees in this year' program will receive embossed Sterling Scholar certificates, and all finalists will be awarded custom-designed silver pins.

The 1988 Sterling Scholar winners, listed first, and runners-up, listed alphabetically, are the following:

The following are the winners, listed first, and runners-up, listed alphabetically:

English Christine Edwards, East High School; Lena Gandhi, Skyline; and Jennifer Payne, Alta.

Speech/Drama Dean Cranney, Mountain View; Darren Poulsen, Spanish Fork; and Timothy M. Wheelwright, Weber.

Mathematics R. Burns Israelsen, Sky View; Jillian Beth Gross, Highland; and Wendy Lynn Grow, East.

Social Science Jennifer Wood, Alta; Jennifer Ann Dickinson, East; and Christopher Lee, Mountain View.

Science Mark W. Lemon, Box Elder; Wade S. Geary, Davis; and Steven Halls, Orem.

Foreign Language Terrian Poulson, Weber; Christine Anne Bohn, Orem; and Natalie Welch, Bonneville.

Visual Arts Anneliese Warnick, Brighton; Christy L. Graff, Ben Lomond; and David Young, Timpview.

Industrial Education Chad Gonzales, Roy; Nichole Phillips, Springville; and Jason Wunderlich, South.

Homemaking Jennifer Call, Ogden; Kathryn Reimann, Bountiful; and Shannon Ridge, Box Elder.

Business Education Raquel Cook, American Fork; Ember Eskelson, Cyprus; and Kristine Funk, Sky View.

Music Monte Caldwell, Viewmont; Elizabeth Nebeker, Alta; and Kevin Olson, West Jordan.

General Scholarship Luke Romero, Roy; Matthew Reed, Bountiful; and Eric VanDyke, Davis.

Special Award Samantha Lee, Granite.