OXON HILL, Md. — Speller No. 1 knows her glasnost.
Meghana Giri of Anniston, Ala., stepped to the microphone early today and spelled the word often associated with the end of the Cold War, starting the first onstage round of the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee.
There are 281 youngsters, including fifth-grader Samantha Schofield of Fallen Timbers Middle School, competing for the title of top speller in the English language. Today's rounds will be combined with the scores from a computer test to determine the semifinalists. The test included a section on vocabulary for the first time in the bee’s history.
The finals are Thursday night, when the winner will take home more than $30,000 in cash and prizes.