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Students selected as ‘Golden Horseshoe’ winners

By Staff | Jul 24, 2015

Six Jefferson County students have been named “Golden Horseshoe” Winners and they traveled to Charleston earlier this year to accept their awards. Peyton Lavallee, Charles Town Middle School;Angela Kretzer, Charles Town Middle School; Killian Butera, Charles Town Middle School; Kaylee Branson, Shepherdstown Middle School; Daisy Levine, Shepherdstown Middle School; and Kira Dagg, Shepherdstown Middle School were those who received the honors.

A highlight for all eighth graders in West Virginia is the opportunity to become a Knight or Lady of the Golden Horseshoe. Each year the eighth graders throughout the State of West Virginia spend the school year studying a comprehensive West Virginia curriculum which engages the students in an intense study of the history, geography, economy, and government of the Mountain State. The primary goal of the program is to promote pride in the state, develop intellectual and participatory skills as well as foster attitudes that are necessary for students to become responsible citizens. At the end of the year, they take a test; and the highest scoring students are eligible to travel to Charleston for the ceremony.

The State Department of Education uses the Golden Horseshoe award to honor “all-state” West Virginia Studies students.

This program dates back to 1716 when the Governor of the Virginia colony, Alexander Spotswood, wanted to explore the land west of the Allegheny Mountains (most of which is now West Virginia). He sent out a party of 50 men to explore this territory. He presented each of the men with a golden horseshoe to reward them for their bravery in crossing the mountains into Western Virginia, thus beginning the Golden Horseshoe tradition.

In the late 1920’s this tradition was revitalized when Mr. Phil M. Conley, an editor of the West Virginia Review, took his idea to State Superintendent of Free schools, William C. Cook, Superintendent, who believed the State Department of Education should promote a comprehensive study of the state. His suggestion was to reward the highest-achieving students with a state award.

The first Golden Horseshoe ceremony, held in 1931, rewarded 87 students from 46 counties and hailed them as Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe. This award became known as the symbol of scholastic achievement to honor students who excel in the study of their state.

Since that time, over 15,000 eighth grade students have received this honor and have received a golden pin in the shape of a horseshoe.

Middle School Coordinator for Jefferson County Schools, Debra Arvon, said, “I am delighted with the representation we had this year and hope that next year we will have even more students who can participate in the ceremony in Charleston.”