W.Va. Students Honored as Golden Horseshoe Winners

May 11, 2007

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine inducted 222 eighth graders as Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe Society on Friday, May 11, 2007, for their outstanding knowledge of West Virginia history and culture.  

The winners from all 55 counties were recognized during a pinning ceremony 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.”  

Eleven honoree recipients also were recognized, including Roland G. “Buster” Lilly, who earned the Golden Horseshoe in 1946 but could not afford to make the trip from Summers County to Charleston to receive the award. He joined his granddaughter, Blaine Blankenship, a winner this year.  

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. Some past winners include author Henry Louis Gates; West Virginia Supreme Court Justices Robin Davis and Larry Starcher; Attorney General Darrell V. McGraw Jr.; and West Virginia Board of Education Secretary Priscilla Haden.  

The top-scoring students in each county receive the 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.  

“The governor organized a party of about 50 men to explore the frontier,” said West Virginia Department of Education Social Studies Coordinator Regina Scotchie. “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.’ Recipients of the award then became known as ‘The Knights of the Golden Horseshoe.’”  

Contact Regina Scotchie, social studies coordinator, at (304) 558-5325, extension 53220, or the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699 for more information.  

For a list of winners click http://wvde.state.wv.us/goldenhorseshoe/2007winners.xls  

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