Chris Schulz Published

2023 Golden Horseshoes Awarded At Culture Center 

A view of the West Virginia Capitol Complex across the Kanawha River.Edsel Little

The West Virginia Department of Education awarded the Golden Horseshoe to 226 students from all 55 counties, the state’s public charter schools and the School for the Deaf and Blind in a ceremony at the West Virginia Culture Center June 13.

Since 1931, the state has bestowed the award to at least two eighth graders from each county with the greatest knowledge of West Virginia history. West Virginia Studies is a required subject for all eighth graders in the state.

Dustin Lambert is state social studies coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education. 

“Every county at the base gets two winners, and then additional winners are awarded to the counties based upon the eighth grade population,” he said. “So for example, obviously, Kanawha County is going to have the most winners because they have the highest population of eighth grade students.”

In 92 years, more than 15,000 West Virginian students have been awarded the Golden Horseshoe. Lambert said the award still holds great meaning for many former winners.

“I had a 90 year old guy from Washington State call three years ago, and he had won a Golden Horseshoe. He was so incredibly proud of this Golden Horseshoe to the point that his family was actually fighting over his Golden Horseshoe pin in his will that he was writing,” Lambert said. “It’s very significant. I think it’s something that these students will take with them, they’ll have a story to tell, they’ll have something to share for a lifetime.”

Beyond the award’s prestige, Lambert said it highlights the continued importance of history to today’s students.

“Despite what folks may believe, our students are interested, and they’re passionate about history, and I think that you really see that in this competition,” he said.

Lambert said those curious to test their own knowledge can try the Question of the Day on the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History website.

“Our question bank is under very strict security,” he said. “A lot of times I get questions from parents, or even teachers about how students can prepare for the Golden Horseshoe, and I always direct them to the West Virginia Culture website.”