Education: No. 49

As she stood in Washington's crowded U.S. Department of Commerce Auditorium, 13-year-old Sandra Sloss of St. Joseph's School, Granite City, Ill. smoothed down her cotton dress, adjusted the numeral placard (No. 49) that hung around her neck, and decided that she didn't have a chance. The other 61 finalists, who had beaten out the 5,000,000 original contestants in the annual Scripps-Howard spelling bee, were obviously going to be too good. Nevertheless, as the warmup period began at 8:50 a.m., Sandra determined to do her best. She took one last look at her parents...

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