Education: O-R-D-E-A-L in Washington

Having come within one word (afflatus) of winning last year's Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee, dark-haired Sandra Owen, 14, of Navarre, Ohio, had thought of practically nothing else but boning up for another crack at the title. Her second chance came last week when the 67 finalists assembled in the Commerce Department's auditorium for this year's bee in Washington, D.C.

At first, the words that rolled so precisely off the pronouncer's tongue ("All-right-y. Yours is an old spelling-bee favorite, the study of fishes: ik-thee-olo-gee") seemed a cinch. By lunchtime. Mrs. Wilford White, the chief...

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