Arnold, Heath, Helmick are Golden Horseshoe winners

Three Morgan County 8th graders have been chosen as the newest members of West Virginia’s Golden Horseshoe Society because of their outstanding knowledge of the Mountain State.

All three are students at Warm Springs Middle School in Berkeley Springs.

Alivia Arnold, Marley Heath and Audrey Helmick were announced as the county’s Golden Horseshoe winners late last week by middle school principal Jamie Harris.

Each year, the West Virginia Department of Education honors 221 students in the eighth grade for their excellence in West Virginia studies.

“The Golden Horseshoe winners have outscored their classmates in school and county wide testing competitions and made top scores on a West Virginia Department of Education test which measures their grasp of West Virginia Studies,” state education officials said in a press release. Students must also write an essay about West Virginia current events.

The West Virginia studies test includes questions about state history, geography, industry and economics and cultural achievements.

Heath said her practices as part of the middle school’s History Bowl Team, guided by Mrs. Gates, were “an integral part of obtaining this

Marley Heath.

Alivia Arnold.

Audrey Helmick.


“Our history bowl team worked together and we had a lot of fun,” she said. Heath encourages incoming eighth graders to participate in the team.

“It was hard work but it definitely paid off!”

“Mrs. Gates has made learning West Virginia History fun. Countless hours were spent studying for our history bowl team which really helped prepare,” Helmick said of her achievement. She now has a goal of visiting all 55 counties. Helmick said she is “extremely happy and excited about earning this honor.”

Arnold said practicing with the history bowl team was fun. “It taught me interesting facts about West Virginia that I needed to leanr for the Golden Horseshoe test,” Arnold said. Her grandfather, Henry Lynn, also won the Golden Horseshoe in his time.

Golden Horseshoe winners typically are honored during a special event in Charleston, in which they take a tour of the Capitol and Culture Center, and have a luncheon. They are then inducted into the Golden Horseshoe Society by the State Superintendent of Schools and receive a golden pin in the shape of a horseshoe.

The first such ceremony was held in 1931.

It was the earliest exploration of the region that is now West Virginia which gave birth to the symbol of the Golden Horseshoe. A history of the program from the Department of Education tells the tale:

“In 1716 the Governor of the Virginia colony, 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, all of whom adopted the pledge, ‘Sic jurat transcendere monte,’ which means ‘Thus he swears to cross the mountains.’

“Governor Spotswood presented each member of his party with a small golden horseshoe to commemorate the bravery of those who crossed the mountains into Western Virginia, beginning the Golden Horseshoe tradition.”

Alivia Arnold is the daughter of Julie Lynn-Kesecker and Jason Arnold.

Marley Heath is the daughter of Betsy and Damian Heath.

Audrey Helmick is the daughter of Anne and Ian Helmick.