They studied hard, took the test and Friday they became members of a very special group — winners of the Golden Horseshoe exam.

Some 230 eighth-graders from across the state were named Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe Society during a ceremony at the state Culture Center. They were tops in their counties for their knowledge of West Virginia history along with current facts and figures about the state.

Taylor Miller, a student at Fairmont Catholic in Marion County, was thrilled and surprised to be among the winners.

“When they first told me I won, I was like, ‘No I didn’t! You’re kidding me!'”

But Taylor’s mom, Karie Hardy had no doubt. She said her daughter set a goal and accomplished it.

“It has just been a celebration for all of us: the school, the family, everyone,” Hardy said.

Miller was joined on the stage by Noah Spencer of Monongalia County. He studied hard for the test and his history teacher took time out to make sure he was prepared for the exam. Spencer also credited his parents who really got behind him.

“They were very supportive. My mother always wanted me to win a Golden Horseshoe,” he said.

Not only did the students have learn basic facts about West Virginia like the state animal (the black bear) and the first capitol of West Virginia (Wheeling) but also some pretty difficult facts and figures. (Here’s a question from the sample test: The exploits of this West Virginian during the Spanish-American War were documented in “A Message to Garcia.” The answer: Elbert Hubbard.)

Parents, grandparents and teachers crowded into the Culture Center for the ceremony. It was standing room only.

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  • B.J.R.

    ,Congratulations to all the Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe,I myself am a Knight it was one of the greatest things I've ever did.

  • Keefe

    They study West Virginia history in the 8th grade now. We had that class in the 6th grade back in 1972 and loved it. Congratulations to all the winners.

  • Alum

    Congratulations Knights and Ladies on you hard work and achievement and welcome to the Golden Horseshoe Society. I was there 40 years ago this year, you will remember this day and your achievement the rest of you life.

  • Barry V. Pavlina

    Congratulations to all those wonderful students who will pass on their love of the State and all she stands for. It actually is heaven. bvp

  • Sandi

    I won the Golden horseshoe in 1963 for Lincoln County and I know how hard they worked for this honor. Congrats everyone

  • Docrock

    Good article, it shows the world how smart WV kids really are. Its great to see them getting the recognition they deserve. One clarification though about the sample test question. The West Virginian whose exploits were documented in "A Message to Garcia" was Capt. Andrew Rowan, from Gap Mills, Monroe County. Elbert Hubbard was the author, but he was not from WV.

    • Jane

      Thanks for the clarification on "A Messsge to Garcia". That troubled me.

  • Jonesy

    Congratulations to all the Golden Horseshoe winners. That was something I was privileged to be a part of a few years ago. This is a group to be held in much higher esteem than the buckwild bunch. I guess MTV considers it a much greater accomplishment making $ off of dysfunctionalism than a group of achievers. Don't look for a reality show on the Knights & Ladies anytime soon.