School News

Kidwell, Jurick & Shambaugh are county’s 2024 Golden Horseshoe winners

by Kate Evans

Warm Springs Middle School eighth graders Oliver Jurick and Jade Kidwell and Paw Paw High School eighth grader Chase Shambaugh have been named as the three Morgan County winners of the 2024 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.

Chase Shambaugh, Paw Paw High School eighth grader, is the third 2024 Golden Horseshoe Award winner for Morgan County. photo by Amber Guthrie
Oliver Jurick and Jade Kidwell, Warm Springs Middle School eighth graders, are two of three 2024 Golden Horseshoe Award winners for Morgan County. photo by Jamie Harris

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 West Virginia through a comprehensive curriculum to prepare for the challenging annual test.

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 translated 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 is “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 (WVDE) website.

The Golden Horseshoe program began in 1929, when historian Phil Conley proposed creating West Virginia Clubs to promote appreciation of the Mountain State, according to state education department information.

State school Superintendent William C. Cook believed that students “should learn more about the State, since they are our future citizens and should be fully prepared for citizenship.”

Two years later, the first Golden Horseshoe test was given.

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.

Jurick, Kidwell and Shambaugh     will be inducted as Knights of the Golden Horseshoe at one of three different ceremonies for Golden Horseshoe winners on June 11 at the West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston.