[Editor's Note: The article has been updated to reflect a correction on the judging panel for the bee.]
It took 24 rounds and just over two hours for this year's middle school spelling champ to emerge Wednesday night.
Sixth-grader Gabriel Goldman was rendered speechless upon realizing he not only spelled "serigraph" correctly, but he actually won the whole spelling bee as well.
Gabe rose from his seat to tackle the next word in the 25th round when Bee Master Todd Bucey, smiling, informed him he could actually sit that one out since he just won.
The 3rd Annual Higgins Middle School Spelling Bee, which is sponsored by the Peabody Education Foundation, was held once again at the Northshore Mall in the Nordstrom wing.
Joining Bucey as Bee Master again was Tom Gould while Jeri Terenzoni, Steve Shea, Dave Gravel and Sudi Smoller were the judges.
The team behind organizing the event with the mall was Smoller and Peggy Pedro.
Once the 23rd round arrived with just four contestants left, the bee entered "challenge" round status where more difficult spelling words were taken from past years' lists of Scripps National Spelling Bee words.
The students hadn't necessarily seen the words yet and weren't eliminated immediately upon offering the wrong answer as long as their peers missed their words as well.
Grabbing 2nd and 3rd, respectively, were eighth-grader Stephen May and seventh-grader Andeemae Sims, while , was 4th.
Each of the 30 students that started off the bee Wednesday night provided a bit of insight into why they loved to spell. They'd also been preparing for months for their big night on the stage.
"What motivates me is the challenge of spelling and being able to learn new words," wrote Gabe.
For those curious what a serigraph is: "an original silk-screen color print," according to Merriam-Webster.