by Kate Evans
Warm Springs Middle School eighth graders Jeremiah Clark, Rhaina Botticher and Zachary Stallard have been chosen as the three Morgan County winners of the 2023 Golden Horseshoe Award.
The prestigious Golden Horseshoe award recognizes state students that excel in West Virginia history and culture. It is given to the top-scoring eighth grade students on the Golden Horseshoe exam in each of the state’s 55 counties. The award is considered one of the greatest honors a West Virginia student can achieve.
The Golden Horseshoe exam tests students’ knowledge of West Virginia citizenship, government, civics, economics, culture, history, geography and current events. Eighth grade students learn about the state through a comprehensive curriculum to prepare for the annual test. The Golden Horseshoe test has been given every year in West Virginia since 1931.
Clark, Botticher and Stallard were honored to win the award. Botticher said she found the Golden Horseshoe test easy, but also hard and challenging.
The Golden Horseshoe legacy 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. Each explorer gave their pledge, which in translation means “Thus he swears to cross the mountains.”
Governor Spotswood gave each explorer a commemorative golden horseshoe after they returned from their journey to mark their bravery in crossing the mountains.
Students that receive the honor are generally knighted and become Knights of the Order of the Golden Horseshoe to commemorate the travels of the early West Virginia explorers. The Golden Horseshoe Award has become “a symbol of the scholastic achievement to honor students who excel in the study of West Virginia,” according to the West Virginia Department of Education website.
The primary goal of the Golden Horseshoe Award program is to “promote pride in our state, develop intellectual and participatory skills as well as foster attitudes that are necessary for students to participate as effective, involved and responsible citizens,” state officials said.
Clark, Stallard and Botticher will be inducted as Knights of the Golden Horseshoe at a ceremony at the West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston on Tuesday, June 14. The state is recognizing 226 eighth grade Golden Horseshoe winners from middle schools across West Virginia in three separate ceremonies that day.