More than 530 outstanding seniors from 46 high schools along the Wasatch Front face judges Wednesday for regional competition in this year's Deseret News-KSL Sterling Scholar Awards program.

And by the time the evening is over, 180 of these young men and women will have been chosen as state finalists for another round of judging April 6. Those named finalists will be listed in Thursday's Deseret News.The preliminary judging process by judges in 12 major categories will begin with the review of portfolios prepared by the scholars. In the afternoon, the judges will meet with each nominee in personal interviews.

The Sterling Scholar Awards program, now in its 27th year, is an effort to recognize the scholastic excellence of Utah's high school seniors. It was initiated by the Deseret News and KSL to focus public attention on the truly remarkable performance of the state's best scholars.

The judging sites Wednesday include Ogden High School for north region schools, Skyline High School for central region, and Timpview High School for south region.

Judging for the 180 finalists will be held April 6 at Skyline. At that time judges will be increased to three to select a winner and two runners-up in each category. The judges' decisions will remain confidential until disclosed during the Sterling Scholar Awards ceremony April 13.

All 180 finalists will be featured on the televised ceremony on KSL-TV, Channel 5, from Cottonwood High School. After the finalists are recognized, the runners-up and winners will be announced by category.