CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — 223 eighth graders from middle schools across the state were honored as the 2021 Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe.
“Not many people get this, so it’s an honor,” said Hannah Juwell, Golden Horseshoe Lady.
“This is a very big deal. This tradition really started in 1716,” said Dustin Lambert, Social Studies Coordinator of the West Virginia Department of Education.
It began with Virginia Colony Governor, Alexander Spotswood, who sent a party to explore the western side of the Allegheny mountains.
Since that time, the state has administered the test each year since 1931 and expanded that tradition by creating the Golden Horseshoe ceremony, which honors young students studying West Virginia’s rich history.
The West Virginia Department of Education inducted these boys and girls as part of the 305th anniversary of the Golden Horseshoe legacy. It is the longest-running program of its kind in the country, and approximately 15,000 eighth-grade students have been recognized since its inception.
“Just seeing the enthusiasm of our students as they receive the award, as they’re being ‘knighted’ by Superintendent Burch, it’s just a great honor for them,” said Dustin Lambert, Social Studies Coordinator of the West Virginia Department of Education.
The exam focuses on Mountain State topics such as civics and government, geography, culture, and more.
“It means a lot because i get to show my ability to take tests and just how much i know about the state” (sot Hayden Drumfield, Golden Horseshoe Knight)
But this is more than just a history lesson.
“I think history helps you prepare for the future, so I think when you study history, the bad history can make sure you don’t repeat it, and the good history can make sure that it can happen again for you,” said Austin Smith, Golden Horseshoe Knight.
“It’s important to know where you come from and be proud of where you come from,” said Juwell.
The students were awarded a certificate letter signed by Governor Jim Justice and a golden horseshoe pin that they can cherish for a lifetime.
A complete list of the 2021 winners can be found here.