West Virginia History Whiz Kids Become Knights of the Golden Horseshoe

May 03, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - More than 200 eighth grade students from across West Virginia on Friday received the prestigious Golden Horseshoe award for outstanding knowledge of West Virginia history and culture.

State Superintendent Jim Phares inducted the students from all 55 counties as Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Society during a pinning ceremony at the Cultural Center. The award is considered one of the greatest honors bestowed upon students in West Virginia.

"As a former history teacher it was a great honor to have a role in this ceremony," Phares said. "The Golden Horseshoe is coveted by many in the state, but received by very few. It is an honor that these students can be proud of for years to come."

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.

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.'"

A list of 2013 winners is posted here.

For more information, contact Joey Wiseman, social studies coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education, at 304-558-5325, or Liza Cordeiro in the Office of Communication at 304- 558-2699.

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