Sen. Joseph R. Biden, who is on most lists as a major Democratic presidential nomination contender in 1988, has apparently had considerable interest in the White House for a long time. One former classmate remembers that in high school, he talked about being president. In a profile in the upcoming National Journal, it is evident he was talking about it even before high school.

Journal writer Ronald Brownstein reports that in 1978, Biden was visiting an elementary school where a student asked if he wanted to be president. Biden gave the standard politician's answer: No, he liked his job and didn't want to be president. From the back of the room a nun spoke up: "You know that's not true, Joey Biden." From those deep, mysterious folds of a nun's habit she produced a composition Biden had written in the sixth grade telling how he wanted to be president one day. Biden was taught once again a lesson every politician understands: Your words can come back to haunt you, no matter how long ago they were written or uttered. Michener Undergoes Bypass Surgery

The seemingly indestructible, indefatigable novelist James Michener is in stable condition in Seton Medical Center in Austin, Tex., recovering from open-heart surgery to remove blockages from five arteries. The 78-year-old prolific writer, who moved to Texas in 1982 to spend 2 1/2 years researching his current best seller, "Texas," was admitted to the hospital's emergency room Saturday complaining of chest pains.

Texas hospital officials said Michener had been transferred from the intensive care unit to the cardiac recovery unit and should be released from the hospital soon. Among Michener's 30 books are "Hawaii," "Centennial," "Chesapeake" and "Space." He and his wife now have a place in Sitka, Alaska, where he is researching his next novel, which will focus on Alaska and the North Pacific. End Notes Bowie State College in Maryland has established a Sharon Christa McAuliffe Scholarship/Fellowship Fund to honor the memory of fallen space traveler McAuliffe, who received her master's degree in education from the college in 1978. The fund will provide assistance to students in teacher education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels . . .

Joan Kennedy was part of a stellar group to perform at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., this week at a week-long festival to raise money for AIDS research and treatment. Kennedy played the piano and folk singer Judy Collins sang on the festival's opening night Monday. Other performers included entertainer Joel Grey and actress Colleen Dewhurst . . .

Ice Capades-goers, expecting to see Olympic gold medalist Robin Cousins here, have been disappointed. Cousins suffered an injury at the end of January in New York and hasn't skated since. Capital Centre spokesman Bob Zurfluh said Cousins was featured in the Ice Capades' advertising because it was being decided daily whether he would skate. He returned to New York on Sunday, having not performed here. Now a videotape is being shown at the Washington performances with Cousins explaining why he isn't skating. Zurfluh said the Capital Centre was unsuccessful in pulling all the newspaper and television advertising that features Cousins, the show's big attraction . . .

Self magazine will be presenting its third annual National Fresh Start Awards today at a congressional luncheon in the Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building. The awards this year go to a 42-year-old medical student, a high-quality-fleece sheep farmer, a cellist who started her own quartet and three women who set up their own fitness training, nutritional planning and wardrobe design firm. Rep. Lindy Boggs is the keynote speaker. Other Congress members expected include Pat Schroeder, Mary Rose Oakar, Barbara Boxer, Claudine Schneider, John Dingell, Joseph Addabbo and Ralph Regula . . .

Diana Margot Fonteyn, one of ballet's all-time greats, is coming out of retirement to play the par ot the queen in "Sleeping Beauty with the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet Company in Miami. The 67-year-old dancer made her U.S. debut at Princess Auroroa in 1949 with the same company . . .

Walter Mears, former political writer and now vice president of the Associated Press, is engaged to marry Carroll Rambo, a news editor for the Washington bureau of NBC, on March 1. The couple will reside in New York. Mears moved to the city in 1984 . . .