The students were inducted as “knights” and “ladies” of the Golden Horseshoe Society by State Superintendent Dr. David Stewart and West Virginia Board of Education President Cleo P. Mathews in ceremonies on May 19 at the Cultural Center in Charleston.
“This Golden Horseshoe award is an honor that provides life-long memories and tremendous pride for students, their families and friends,” Dr. Stewart said. “This unique state award is coveted by many, but received by very few. It is a prestigious honor that rewards students' appreciation for and understanding of the Mountain State and its people.”
Governor Cecil H. Underwood was the guest speaker at the Golden Horseshoe opening ceremony at 9:30 a.m. in the Cultural Center Theatre.
“The Golden Horseshoe award is presented in recognition of students’ crossing the mountains of learning and knowledge on the way to becoming good citizens,” President Mathews said. “This is one of the greatest honors bestowed upon students in West Virginia.”
According to Sharon Flack, coordinator of social studies for the West Virginia Department of Education, the Golden Horseshoe originated in the early 1700s in colonial Virginia when then-Governor Alexander Spotswood saw the need for exploration of the land west of the Allegheny Mountains, most of which is now West Virginia.
“The governor organized a party of about 50 men to explore the frontier,” she explained. “At the end of the exploration, he presented each member of the party with a golden horseshoe. Translated from Latin, the inscription on each horseshoe read, ‘Thus it was decided to cross the mountains.’ On the other side was written, ‘Order of the Golden Horseshoe.’ Because of this, the recipients became known as ‘The Knights of the Golden Horseshoe.’”
Flack said that the Golden Horseshoe Test has been administered in West Virginia each year since 1931 and is the longest running program of its kind in any state. The top-scoring students in each county receive the prestigious award.
During the May 19 ceremonies, 10 educators were honored for long-time contributions to social studies education in West Virginia. Receiving honorary Golden Horseshoe awards were: Pamela Spring, Anna Jarvis Elementary School, Taylor County; Fred Sauro, Williamstown High School, Wood County; Rick Comer, McKinley Junior High School, Kanawha County; John Byrer, Salem Middle School, Harrison County; James “Jim” Reed, Western Greenbrier Junior High School, Greenbrier County; H. William “Bill” Storm, Union Junior High School, Marshall County; Michael Burton, Fayetteville Middle School, Fayette County; Merri Hess, Peterstown Middle School, Monroe County; Vicki Wood, retired Kanawha County teacher and administrator; and Barbara Jones, West Virginia Department of Education.
Governor Underwood was also presented an honorary Golden Horseshoe award for his steadfast commitment to social studies education in West Virginia.
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