State announces Golden Horseshoe award winners

CHARLESTON – Nearly 230 eighth-grade students from across West Virginia last week received the prestigious Golden Horseshoe award for outstanding knowledge of West Virginia history and culture.

State Superintendent Jim Phares inducted students from all 55 counties as Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Society during a pinning ceremony Thursday at the Cultural Center in Charleston. The award is considered one of the greatest honors bestowed upon students in West Virginia.

“As a former history teacher it was a great honor to have a role in this ceremony,” Phares said. “The Golden Horseshoe is coveted by many in the state, but received by very few. It is an honor that these students can be proud of for years to come.”

The Golden Horseshoe test has been administered in West Virginia each year since 1931 and is the longest running program of its kind in the United States. The top-scoring students in each county receive the prestigious award. Each county has at least two winners. The exam tests student knowledge on West Virginia citizenship, civics and government, economics, geography, history and current events.

The local winners by county were:

* Calhoun County: Caroline McCumbers and Robert Twist IV.

* Doddridge County: Logan Gogan and Joseph Heckert.

* Gilmer County: Ruthann Cain and Sada Wright.

* JacksonCounty: Elias Cope, Presley Fisher, Michael Morgan and Teresa Riffle.

* Pleasants County: Corbin Bussey, Lindsay George, Ryan McFarland, Andrea Watson and Spencer Wren.

* Ritchie County: Ivy Scoville, William Siers and Jonathan Wilson.

* Roane County: Paige Davenport, Christophe Deel and Keira Shaffer.

* Tyler County: Colby Buchanan, Rosana Smith and Theodore Stackpole.

* Wirt County: Addie Bailey and Kyle Bentz.

* Wood County: Anna Fatta, Andrew Gnegy, Jordan Mader, Ian McKnight, Wade Powers Akshay Sambandham and Kaylyn Smith.

The Golden Horseshoe originated in the early 1700s in Virginia when Gov. Alexander Spotswood saw the need for exploration of the land west of the Allegheny Mountains, most of which is now West Virginia. Spotswood organized a party of about 50 men to explore the frontier. At the end of the exploration, he presented each member of the party with a golden horseshoe. Translated from Latin, the inscription on each horseshoe read, “Thus it was decided to cross the mountains.” On the other side was written, “Order of the Golden Horseshoe.” Because of this, the recipients became known as ‘The Knights of the Golden Horseshoe.'”

A full list of 2014 winners is posted at