Thousands of boys and girls throughout Utah have participated in the spelling improvement program, another educational service of the Deseret News.

Sponsored by the newspaper in cooperation with the State Office of Education, Utah Education Association and State PTA, the program culminates with a statewide spelling bee. This year's championship finals will be held Friday, March 30, at Bryant Junior High School.The state winner and one parent will be guests of the Deseret News to the National Spelling Bee May 28 though June 2 in Washington, D.C.

It is estimated that approximately 9 million students in fourth through eighth grades participate in spelling bees on the local level. They represent sponsoring newspapers in 47 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The following are Utah spelling champions who represented the Beehive State at the national competition, along with their rankings in competition, the total number of spellers and the word they misspelled:

1977 - Jana Winters, 50th of 94, juratory.

1978 - Cliff Morrison, 40th of 106, cerecloth.

1979 - Cliff Morrison, 31st of 109, sinologist.

1980 - Cliff Morrison, 12th of 112, cedilla.

1981 - Mona Wu, 77th of 120, julienne.

1982 - Mitchell Kalauli, 65th of 126, soutane.

1983 - Karen Ellis, 67th of 137, meliorate.

1984 - Blake Comish, 101st of 151, triskelion.

1985 - Sandra Stephenson, 149th of 168, commorancy.

1986 - Christopher Gregory, 38th of 174, surrogate.

1987 - Monique Child, 107th of 185, gnotobiotics.

1988 - Tara Huber, 38th of 200, orchestrelle.

1989 - Colleen Huber, 19th of 222, hypophilous.

(In 1981, rules limited each state winner to one time only as a delegate to the National Spelling Bee.)