In true awards ceremony fashion, the names of Sterling Scholar winners and runners-up are a closely guarded secret until announced before a television audience.
Only a handful of officials will know these names until announced during the program at Cottonwood High School on the evening of April 12.The security begins on April 5 when the judges in the final competition report their results in each category. Sworn to secrecy, the judges never share this information with the judges in other categories.
These results are typed onto cards and sealed into envelopes. Hostesses for the show, usually winners from the previous year, hand the information to a prominent Utahn to make the presentation.
Last year's presenters were Shelly Thomas, KSL-TV news anchor; Don Lind, NASA mission specialist; Jerold Ottley, director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Gov. Norm Bangerter.
Program hostesses were Debra Lyn Menssen, 1987 winner in English from Brighton High School, and Kristine Hansen, 1987 winner in homemaking from Spanish Fork High School.
To add to the suspense of the show, background information on the winners is taken from their portfolio and prepared into a "teaser" form of announcement. As the information is read by the announcer, the winner usually recognizes the biographical material and a smile begins to form.
Others nearby often glance toward the winner as they, too, recognize which of the 15 students in their category will be named the winner.
The runners-up, named first, walk to center stage and mount a small three-tier platform. The winner is then disclosed for the first time and walks to the center section, flanked by the runners-up.
At this time, the top scholars are handed their own envelopes containing scholarship information that may be used for the coming school year. All of the state's major colleges and universities offer some form of financial assistance.
Some financial assistance pertains to the winner, some to winners and runners-up, and a few offer awards to nominees from the school.