by Kate Evans
Warm Springs Middle School eighth graders Matthew Leasure, Emma Christie and Trent Ao are the 2019 Morgan County winners of the Golden Horseshoe Award.
The prestigious award recognizes state students that excel in West Virginia history and culture and is given to the top-scoring students on the Golden Horseshoe exam in each of the state’s 55 counties. The award is considered one of the greatest honors a student from West Virginia can achieve.
The Golden Horseshoe exam tests students’ knowledge of West Virginia citizenship, government, civics, economics, culture, history, geography and current events. Students learn about the state in preparation for the annual test. The Golden Horseshoe test has been given every year in West Virginia since 1931.
The Golden Horseshoe originated in 1716 when Virginia Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood organized an expedition of around 50 men to explore the frontier west of the Allegheny Mountains in what is now mostly West Virginia. Governor Spotswood gave each explorer a commemorative golden horseshoe after they returned from their journey.
According to a West Virginia Department of Education press release, West Virginia School Superintendent Dr. Steven Paine inducted 223 eighth grade Golden Horseshoe recipients from across the state as knights and ladies of the Golden Horseshoe Society at a May 3 ceremony at the Culture Center in Charleston. At the ceremony, Governor Jim Justice expressed pride in students earning this high honor.
“The Golden Horseshoe stresses the importance of learning about our great state and I know these students will serve as ambassadors for West Virginia for years to come,” Governor Justice said.
“This group of incredible students continues the tradition of excellence that is highly respected in West Virginia. They are the ‘all-staters’ of West Virginia history and I know that they take great pride in the Mountain State,” Dr. Paine said.
Leasure, Christie and Ao all said that their trip to Charleston was fun. The students each traveled to the ceremony with their parents, said their eighth grade West Virginia studies teacher Debra Gates.
Ao said they were knighted by Dr. Paine. They learned a lot at the Culture Center, which had interesting exhibits, and also visited the Capitol Building.
Ao said that the Golden Horseshoe exam takes a lot of effort and studying. Gates said that students needed to pay attention in class and also study outside of class at home to prepare for the test.
“Be sure to pay attention to Mrs. Gates,” Ao added.