221 Students Awarded Golden Horseshoes

April 10, 2001

Two hundred twenty-one West Virginia eighth graders have been presented the prestigious Golden Horseshoe award for outstanding performance on the test measuring students’ knowledge of the state’s history and culture.  

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 J. D. Morris in ceremonies this afternoon at the Cultural Center in Charleston.  

“This Golden Horseshoe award is a prestigious honor that provides life-long memories and tremendous pride for students, their families and friends,” Dr. Stewart said. “This unique award is coveted by many in the state, but received by very few. It is an honor that rewards students’ appreciation for and understanding of the Mountain State and its people.”  

“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 Morris said. “This is one of the greatest honors bestowed upon students in West Virginia.”  

Governor Bob Wise was the guest speaker at the Golden Horseshoe opening ceremony at 9:30 a.m. in the Cultural Center Theatre.  

According to Sharon Flack, coordinator of social studies for the West Virginia Department of Education, the Golden Horseshoe originated in the early 1700s in 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 today’s ceremonies, three educators were honored for long-time contributions to social studies education in West Virginia. Receiving honorary Golden Horseshoe awards were: Bonnie Hogbin, retired Grant County educator; Dora Coleman, South Charleston Junior High School; and Sam Cochenour, Wayne County Middle School.  

In addition, John Stanley Starkey of Marshall County was presented a Golden Horseshoe award. He won the award as a student in 1944, but was unable to attend because of gas shortages during World War II.

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For more information visit:
WV Golden Horseshoe Webpage