Golden Horseshoe Award

The Golden Horseshoe Award: for West Virginia Eighth Grade Students

In 1716 the Lieutenant 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 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 West Virginia beginning the Golden Horseshoe tradition.

To carry on this spirit of adventure and pride in West Virginia, the West Virginia Department of Education honors each year 221 eighth grade students for their knowledge of the state in a one-day ceremony held in Charleston. The Golden Horseshoe winners each year have outscored their classmates in West Virginia studies and they also have written an essay on some aspect of West Virginia current events.

While in Charleston to celebrate Golden Horseshoe Day, the honorees are treated to a tour of the Capitol and Cultural Center and a luncheon held in their honor. The high point of the ceremony is the induction of the students into the Golden Horseshoe Society. The State Superintendent of Schools presides over the induction ceremony. Each student kneels and, with a tap of a sword on the shoulder, is dubbed either a Knight or Lady of the Golden Horseshoe Society. Each student is presented a Golden Horseshoe pin to continue the tradition.

*The horseshoe, a main symbol used in the seal of NSCDA-West Virginia, depicts the pioneer spirit of the American settlers seeking freedom in the mountains of a new land.