Mon students earn Golden Horseshoe honor

Sure, you know your West Virginia pop culture.

Your Mothman, your Mary Lou Retton, and the like.

You know your favorite foods: pepperoni rolls, ramps, a certain hot dog place with a certain sauce.

That’s the fun stuff, but there’s also the serious history of how West Virginia got to be West Virginia.

How the state with the funky and squiggly borders (heavily negotiated) became the only state born of the Civil War — and how all that happened during the darkest, most-dire days of the fighting that threatened to rip the very fabric of the Republic in half.

Since 1931, the Golden Horseshoe test, which some say is harder to pass than a coal truck on a two-lane, has been a benchmark for legions of West Virginia eighth-graders testing their mettle on the Mountain State.

Politics.

Economics.

Sociology.

History.

The 2024 inductees of the Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe have just been announced by the state Department of Education, and two schools in Monongalia County’s public district are well-represented in the honor.

Ethan Landis and Parker Smith are the newest bright Knights from Mountaineer Middle School.

Named to the legion from South Middle School are Tessa Abildso, Avery Garvin, Henry Palfrey, Ryan Bellisario and Jaxon Howell.

Yes, there really is a ceremonial golden horseshoe involved, and symbolism pre-dates the state, in fact.

In 1716, Alexander Spotswood, who was lieutenant governor of Virginia, presented horseshoes painted gold to honor the bravery of a group of explorers who cut a swath across the Allegheny Mountains west of Virginia.

Nearly 150 years after that offering, the western climes would become West Virginia.

It’s a point of state pride, said Angel Conley, who teaches West Virginia history at South Middle.

Her classes in that subject are known for the state History Bowl champions and Golden Horseshoe winners they generate.

“This isn’t ‘boring’ history,” Conley, a native of the colonial-steeped Eastern Panhandle, told The Dominion Post previously.

“This is what stays with them and makes them proud to be from here,” the teacher said.

Counting Mon, a total of 227 eighth-graders from across the state were named to the Golden Horseshoe this year.

They’ll be honored June 11 in ceremonies at the West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston.

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