BUCKHANNON – Four eighth-grade students from Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School on Thursday were dubbed Ladies and Knights of the Golden Horseshoe, an honor bestowed on West Virginia students who test highest in their knowledge of West Virginia history and culture.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional ceremony to recognize the Golden Horseshoe winners in Charleston was postponed – but the City of Buckhannon teamed up with Upshur County Schools to make Thursday Golden Horseshoe Day.
Upshur County Schools and city officials said they could not let this honor go without celebration, so they partnered with one another to recognize and honor those students who worked so hard to learn about ‘wild, wonderful’ West Virginia’s history and culture. Buckhannon Mayor David McCauley read a proclamation and helped induct the newest Ladies and Knights into the Golden Horseshoe Society during the afternoon ceremony in Jawbone Park.
The 2020 Upshur County recipients who won the Golden Horseshoe Contest and are now members of the Golden Horseshoe Society are Kari Gay, Madolyn Long, Dirk Riley and Jeremy Streets.
Kari said she was very honored to be named a Lady of the Golden Horseshoe.
“It is a family tradition in my family, and I am happy I won,” Kari said. “My aunt and sister won, too.”
Kari is 13 years old and is in eighth grade at B-UMS. She lives in Frenchton and loves being a part of Mountain Pride Farms LLC, her family’s cattle and potato farm. She said she loves animals, especially her pigs and horses. She is a member of the Frenchton Bobcats 4-H club, the Upshur County Youth Livestock Association, the Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School National Junior Honor Society Chapter and the Frenchton UM Church and Youth Group.
Kari enjoys county and state 4-H camp, camping with her youth group, horseback riding and spending time with family and friends. She received her pin from mother, Cindy Gay.
Madolyn said she enjoys math, reading, archery and playing the viola. She received her pin from her father, Christopher Long.
Knight of the Golden Horseshoe winner Dirk Riley received his pin from his mother, Sherry Wright. Dirk attends B-UMS and is in eighth grade. He likes to play soccer and run track.
Dirk said although he was anxious to go to Charleston for the dubbing ceremony, he was very happy to be recognized in Buckhannon.
“This was great,” Dirk said. “It still honored the students who won the contest, and it was a great day.”
Dirk’s brother was also a winner in the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe and inducted into the Golden Horseshoe Society in 2018.
The final honoree was Jeremy Streets, who is 14 years old and is in eighth grade at B-UMS. He was born in Dover, Delaware, and he said his mother is originally from Buckhannon. Amanda Streets pinned her son during the ceremony.
“We moved back to Buckhannon when I was four years old. I enjoy playing sports, and social studies is my favorite subject,” Jeremy said. “My family and I enjoy driving around our wonderful state and learning about all the history.”
B-UHS Principal Mike Lynch said he was happy to be honoring the students named Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe.
“As a former West Virginia History teacher, I have had many winners,” Lynch said. “I am so proud of them. As I always say, the credit goes to the students and staff. They did a great job, and we are proud of their accomplishment.”
Upshur County BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples also offered congratulations to the winners.
“I did not win the Golden Horseshoe, but my mother, sister, niece and cousin were all winners,” Samples said. “Congratulations to you all.”
Upshur County Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said when Governor Jim Justice announced the Dubbing Ceremony for all winners of the Golden Horseshoe would be delayed, she realized Upshur County needed to have its own ceremony.
“I am so very proud of these four,” Stankus said. “I know their families supported them and helped them study for this very difficult test. I love West Virginia and I love West Virginia History and I am very thankful and very proud of these students who worked very hard to earn this distinction.”
Stankus said the Golden Horseshoe Pin represents a distinction in West Virginia.
“We are very proud of these students, and we understand the hard work it took for these students to achieve this honor,” she said.
McCauley shared facts about the Golden Horseshoe Award, including the fact that the award was first given in the Mountain State in 1931 and that so far, 15,000 West Virginia students have received the award.
Along with a key to the City of Buckhannon, McCauley dubbed each winner a Knight or Lady of the Golden Horseshoe. He also signed a proclamation declaring Thursday, May 14 Golden Horseshoe Day. Across the State of West Virginia, 223 eighth-grade students were recognized this year as Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe.