CHARLESTON, W.Va. – More than 200 eighth grade students from across West Virginia received the prestigious Golden Horseshoe award for outstanding knowledge of West Virginia history and culture. State Superintendent Steve Paine inducted students from all 55 counties as Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe Society during a pinning ceremony Friday at the Cultural Center in Charleston.
“This award is coveted by many in the state, but received by very few,” Paine said. “It is an honor that rewards students’ appreciation for and understanding of West Virginia and its people.”
The Golden Horseshoe Test has been administered in West Virginia each year since 1931 and is the longest running program of its kind in the United States. The top-scoring students in each county receive the prestigious award. Each county has at least two winners. The exam tests student knowledge on West Virginia citizenship, civics and government, economics, geography, history and current events. Past recipients have included authors and state Supreme Court justices, a state attorney general and a state Board of Education president.
The Golden Horseshoe originated in the early 1700s in Virginia when then-Gov. Alexander Spotswood saw the need for exploration of the land west of the Allegheny Mountains, most of which is now West Virginia. Spotswood organized a party of about 50 men to explore the frontier. 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.’”
“The Golden Horseshoe award is presented in recognition of students’ crossing the mountains of learning and knowledge on the way to becoming good citizens,” said West Virginia Board of Education President Priscilla Haden, a past Golden Horseshoe recipient. “This is one of the greatest honors bestowed upon students in our state.”
For more information, contact Regina Scotchie, social studies coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education, at (304) 558-5325, or the Communications Office at (304) 558-2699.
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