Since 1931, the Golden Horseshoe Test has been administered in West Virginia and has become the longest-running program of its kind in any state.
County eighth graders are tested on their grasp of West Virginia Studies. They are also required to write an essay focusing on some aspect of West Virginia current events.
Every year, two hundred twenty-one West Virginia eighth graders who receive the top scores in their county are presented with the prestigious Golden Horseshoe award. In a one-day ceremony held in Charleston, the winners are treated to a tour of the Capitol and Cultural Center. A luncheon is also held in their honor.
The Golden Horseshoe is probably the most coveted award bestowed upon West Virginia students each year, according to the West Virginia Department of Education. During the induction ceremony, students kneel as the State Superintendent, using an antique sword, dubs students as “ladies” or “knights” of the Golden Horseshoe Society.
James Mahan, Jackson County Schools Director of Secondary Education, said Jackson County is allowed four Golden Horseshoe winners per year.
This year, Issac Lane, Davy Ramsey, Colton Riggs, and Alexis Patterson, all from Ravenswood Middle School, were named 2020 Golden Horseshoe winners.
Jason Gump, West Virginia History teacher at Ravenswood Middle couldn't be more excited for his students.
“I am so proud of all their hard work and dedication to studying in preparation for this test,” Gump said. “They began studying and taking online quizzes in class every other Friday since September.”
“I enjoyed the competition and new insights into the history of West Virginia,” Lane said.
Ramsey said studying the Golden Horseshoe test quizzes really helped him prepare for the actual test. He feels it was all worthwhile when it came to test time.
“It's a prestigious award and I am happy to have it,” Ramsey said.
Gump's students admit the test was not an easy one, but with his encouragement and support, they were able to reach their goal.
“It's an honor to be recognized for the Golden Horseshoe,” Riggs said. “I would like to thank Mr. Gump for all of his support.”
“I feel privileged winning the Golden Horseshoe award because it's not an easy test,” Patterson said. “Hard work and paying attention in class pays off. I work hard for everything I achieve. It looks good on myself and my teacher Mr. Gump. I wouldn't have been able to do it without his wonderful teaching.”
According to Gump, the Golden Horseshoe award is a huge honor for not only his eighth grade students, but for Ravenswood Middle School as well.
Mahan said it is not often that one school in the county (Ripley or Ravenswood Middle) claims all four winners.
“Since 1973 there have only been six times that one school swept the competition,” Mahan said. “With Ravenswood sweeping the competition this year, that number goes up to seven.”
Mahan said the breakdown shows Ripley Middle sweeping the competition four times and Ravenswood Middle three times, with their last sweep being in 2004.
“This makes the first sweep since 2011, when all four winners were from Ripley Middle,” Mahan said.
Mahan had not yet received any of the individual test scores as of print, but the highest score anyone can receive on the test is 50 points. The highest score received by anyone in Jackson County has been 37, according to Mahan who noted that no one has ever scored 50 out of 50.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the Golden Horseshoe Award ceremony for this year had to be cancelled; however, all winners were able to pick up their certificate and pin at the Board office in Ripley.
A fall recognition is in the plans for all four winners by both the Jackson County Board of Education, as well as the State BOE.