Judges are an important part of the Sterling Scholar Awards program Wednesday. And their role is as important as a scorekeeper in a football or basketball game - or who would know who won?

For preliminary judging Wednesday two judges are assigned to each of 12 categories in three different locations. Judges include a high school teacher from an area other than where he or she teaches and a faculty member from a nearby college or university.For final judging on April 5, three individuals will be pressed into service for each category. They include a university or college faculty member, a representative from the State Office of Education or State Office of Higher Education, and a member of the community in the field associated with the category.

Judges in preliminary as well as final judging meet as early as 10 a.m. to study the portfolios prepared by the students until just before 3 p.m.

Individual interviews begin at 3 p.m. when the judges will be able to meet the students they have read about in the portfolios.

In many categories, such as home economics, industrial education, science and visual arts, the students bring exhibits to display.

In other categories, including speech/drama and music, the young men and women may present a performance that will be included in the judging process.