Thirty-six rounds later and Riya Joshi, last year’s winner, has been declared the 2018 Chicago Public Schools Citywide Spelling Bee Champion.

The seventh-grader, who attends Whitney Young Magnet High School’s Academic Center, competed against CPS elementary students ranging from fourth to eighth grades Thursday in Englewood. The daylong competition was held at Lindblom High School and concluded close to 4 p.m. The students were all competing for a spot at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland.

Aaron Chang, a sixth-grader from Audubon Elementary took home second place.

May 27-June 2, Riya will join dozens of students from across the country, all seeking to be crowned the 2018 National Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee Champion, and receive a $40,000 grand prize.

Earlier this year, 135 schools held individual, school-wide spelling bees and declared one winner from each school.

All winners completed Scripps National Spelling Bee’s online assessment, and the top 50 highest scorers were chosen to compete in Thursday’s championship.

Throughout the year, over 38,000 elementary students participate in the Spelling Bee, as part of the district’s commitment to provide students with the opportunity to improve their spelling and increase their vocabulary while preparing them for high school and beyond.