More than 500 outstanding seniors from 45 high schools along the Wasatch Front face judges March 22 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 5.Names and photographs of the 1989 nominees will be featured by category in a special section in the Deseret News Tuesday and names of finalists will be published Thursday.

The preliminary judging process by judges in 12 major categories will begin with the review of portfolios prepared by the scholars. In the afternoon, judges will have a chance to meet each nominee during personal interviews.

The Sterling Scholar Awards program, now in its 28th year, is an effort to recognize the scholastic talents of Utah's high school seniors. It was established by the sponsors to focus public attention on the remarkable performance of the state's best scholars.

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

Judging for the 180 finalists will be held April 5 at Skyline. Judges will select a winner and two runners-up in each category. The judges' decisions will remain confidential until disclosed during the awards ceremony April 12.