CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A select few middle school students from each county in the state gathered at the state Capitol on Friday for a special day.

After acing tests of West Virginia history, 223 eighth-graders received recognition as Knights of the Golden Horseshoe during Golden Horseshoe Day.

Ryan Simpson, a student at Sissonville Middle School in Kanawha County said he was looking forward to the day.

“We get knighted and we get a picture with the governor,” he said.

Gov. Jim Justice celebrated with the students at the 88th Golden Horseshoe ceremony including giving a congratulatory speech.

“These 223, this is their day,” Justice said. “An achievement that is beyond belief to tell you the truth. They are our brightest and they are our best.”

Simpson and his classmate Sawyer Monk were two of only 13 students selected from West Virginia’s largest county.

Each county’s number of students was represented by the population in all 55 counties.

Monk said the students took a rigorous 50 question test and the highest scored in the county were chosen.

“They talked about a certain battle from the Civil War in West Virginia and they asked which did not happen and you had to select the correct answer,” Monk described to MetroNews a sample test question.

The West Virginia Department of Education said since 1931 more than 15,000 West Virginia students have received the Golden Horseshoe Award in recognition of their knowledge of West Virginia history and culture, and the program is the longest-running program of its kind in the United States.

For Monk, being at the Culture Center at Capitol Complex felt right at home and he said he hopes to be back in the future.

“I could be a historian,” he said of his future and passion for history. “I could work for the state and I’d like to be a politician, I am pretty passionate about that too.”