Madeline Feinstein of Summersville Middle School reaches quarterfinals of 2023 National Spelling Bee

By Matthew Young, RealWV

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. – Madeline Feinstein rose, unabashed, from her seat in the second row to face the challenge before her. At just 13-years-old, the eighth-grader from Summersville Middle School carried herself with all the poise and confidence of a seasoned competitor twice her age. 

To watch Madeline compete, one could not help but to be reminded of a young Michael Jordan – if a young Michael Jordan had competed to become the National Spelling Bee Champion, that is.  

But Michael Jordan didn’t do that and Madeline Feinstein did, so we’re going to talk about her. 

Madeline Feinstein.

Madeline was one of only 231 students between the ages of nine and 14 to qualify for the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Now in its 95th year, the competition included competitors representing each of the 50 states, as well as those who traveled from as far away as Germany and Ghana to test their skills against the best. While Madeline did not win the competition, she was successful in proving herself to be one of the 121 best spellers of her generation in the entire world. 

Michael Jordan may have won six NBA Championship rings, but Madeline Feinstein can correctly spell “capoeira.” I work with words for a living, and I don’t know how to spell capoeira. Frankly, I don’t even know what it means. So yes, six championship rings is nice. But personally, I’m jealous of Madeline’s vocabulary.

And that was only round one…

In Round two, she accurately defined the word “absolution” as being “a ceremony for the pardoning of sins.” Then in round three, Madeline – in a whimsically-rhythmic manner – correctly recited the alphabetical-arrangement of the word “gopher” as comfortably as if she had invented the furry little rodent herself. 

Madeline made it all the way to round four – the quarterfinal round – before ultimately being eliminated. The word was “infobahn,” which apparently is a type of high-speed computer network. Between you and me, I think the judges made it up. Although Madeline misspelled it, her overall performance was nothing short of legendary. And if we’re being honest – infobahn is a ridiculous sounding word that no sensible human being should ever know how to spell. 

In the competition, Madeline was joined by fellow West Virginian Isaac Boyce – a Bridgeport Middle School student from Clarksburg. Isaac performed just as well, also making it to the quarterfinal round. RealWV would like to acknowledge the Charleston Gazette-Mail, and the Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram for their support of the students, and regional sponsorship of the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee. 

Isaac Boyce.

Both Madeline and Isaac should be proud of what they have accomplished. But more importantly, West Virginia should be proud of them. They have established themselves as leaders amongst the next generation of Mountaineers, and for that we say congratulations.

You may not have won the competition, but you are West Virginia’s champions nonetheless.  

For more information about the Scripps National Spelling Bee, including how to participate in next year’s competition, visit their website at


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