Forty of the state's top young spellers meet in Salt Lake City April 8 to see who's the best of them all.

Public, private and parochial district winners will complete for the state title in the 12th annual Deseret News Spelling Bee. The competition begins at 9 a.m. at Clayton Intermediate School, 1471 S. 19th East.Sponsored in cooperation with the State Office of Education, Utah Education Association and State PTA, the Deseret News spell-off will decide who will represent the Beehive State and compete in the National Spelling Bee.

Although a state winner cannot compete again, some of the previous district winners will be returning Friday for another try at the top prize. However, most of them will be competing for the first time.

Last year's winner was Monique Childs, an eighth-grade student at Treasure Mountain Middle School, Park City. She was one of 185 spellers from the United States, Guam, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Monique, who survived four rounds and the first day of national competition, finished 106th after misspelling gnotobiotics as n-o-t-i-b-i-o-t-i-c-s.

The state winner and one parent will be guests of the Deseret News to Washington, D.C., May 29-June 4. They will visit historical sites in and around the nation's capital. The competition lasts two days.

Second-place winner will receive a 32-volume Encyclopaedia Britannica that features the redesigned and revised format that first appreared in 1985. The valuable prize features the 12-volume Micropaedia, containing 84,300 alphabetically ordered entries; the 17-volume Macropaedia with 681 articles and 6,000 illustrations and the one-volume Propaedia that has 15,000 topics and 31,800 titles for suggested reading. The set includes a two-volume general index. In addition, the winner receives the Britannica World Data Annual with the Book of the Year and World Data included.

The Random House Dictionary of the English Language: second edition unabridged, will be presented to the third-place winner. It is the first completely new unabridged dictionary published in 21 years with more than 315,000 entries. Major entries show when words were first entered into the language and tens of thousands of biographical and geographical entries are included plus more than 2,500 illustrations and spot maps.

Fourth prize is Webster's 9th New Collegiate Dictionary with more than 150,000 vocabulary entries, including 200,000 definitions, 25,000 new words and 3,000 illustrations.

Webster's Collegiate Thesaurus, featuring more than 100,000 synonyms, antonyms, related and contrasted words and idiomatic equivalents, will be awarded to the fifth-place winner. Both are from Merriam-Webster Inc.

A special spelling bee edition of the 1988 World Almanac will be presented to the sixth-place winner.

The following are finalists with their age, school, grade and city, and the number they were assigned for the competition:

1. Shelby Sanders, 9, Roosevelt Middle fourth grade, Roosevelt; 2. Becky Blackburn, 14, Mont Harmon eighth grade, Price; 3. Sara Rosevear, 14, Albion Middle eighth grade, Sandy; 4. Brittany Watne, 13, St. Vincent's eighth grade, Murray; 5. Chris Thorpe, 11, Cottonwood Elementary sixth grade, Orangeville; 6. Sam Mukherjee, 11, Redeemer Lutheran sixth grade, Salt Lake City; 7. Ryan Jensen, 13, Wayne Middle seventh grade, Bicknell; 8. Edithanne Mathews, 13, Spring Creek Middle seventh grade, Millville; 9. Carolyn White, 11, McMillan sixth grade, Murray; 10. Jason Brown, 13, North Davis Junior High eighth grade, Clearfield.

11. Lori Hill, 13, West Desert eighth grade, Partoun; 12. Karana Russo, 11, Oscarson Elementary sixth grade, Marysvale; 13. April Olson, 10, Bunderson Elementary fifth grade, Brigham City; 14. Kara Van Heyst, 12, Intermountain Christian seventh grade, Murray; 15. Melanie Park, 13, Tooele Junior High eighth grade, Rush Valley; 16. Carina Kuesterman, 12, West Lake Junior High seventh grade, West Valley City; 17. Karene Olsen, 9, Fountain Green fourth grade, Fountain Green; 18. Ashley Maak, 11, Midway fifth grade, Charleston; 19. Brian Giles, 13, Fillmore Middle School eighth grade, Fillmore; 20. Amy Picklesimer, 13, Dixie Middle seventh grade, St. George.

21. William Nielsen, 14, Juab Middle eighth grade, Nephi; 22. Jared Inouye, 13, Gunnison High eighth grade, Gunnison; 23. Jared Mildenstein, 12, Dixon Middle seventh grade, Provo; 24. Candie Orton, 13, Panguitch Middle eighth grade, Panguitch, 25. Kelly Kennedy, 11, South Rich Elementary fifth grade, Randolph; 26. Anne-Marie Cales, 11, Pioneer Elementary sixth grade, West Valley City; 27. Jeff Stephens, 11, Treasure Mountain sixth grade, Park City; 28. Karl Fails, 14, Orem Junior High eighth grade, Orem; 29. Tara Huber, 11, Vernal Middle seventh grade, Vernal; 30. Brian Wikle, 12, Monticello High seventh grade, Monticello.

31. Amy Hobbs, 13, Grand County Middle eighth grade, Moab; 32. Rebecca London, 11, Morgan Middle fifth grade, Morgan; 33. Natalie Willden, 13, Milford High seventh grade, Milford; 34. Kari Watson, 12, Mount Logan Middle seventh grade, Logan; 35. Ruth Spjeldvik, 12, Mount Ogden Middle sixth grade, Ogden; 36. Cindy Roundy, 12, Valley Elementary sixth grade, Alton; 37. Gordon Mills, 14, Spanish Fork eighth grade, Spanish Fork; 38. Lorinda Fawcett, 12, North Summit Middle sixth grade, Henefer; 39. Ambre ReMillard, South Summit Middle eighth grade, Kamas, and 40. Joan Ekdale, Hillside Middle eighth grade, Salt Lake City.