Board recognizes Golden Horseshoe winners

WELLSBURG – In a year when many will be observing the 150th anniversary of West Virginia’s statehood, the Brooke County Board of Education on Monday applauded three of the county’s pupils for knowledge of their state.

Cody Anderson and Nicholas DeLancey, both of Follansbee Middle School, and Amanda Taylor of Wellsburg Middle School will be inducted to the West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Society after being among 221 eighth-graders from throughout the state to earn high scores on an examination testing their knowledge of the state’s history, culture and geography.

The examination also includes an essay portion challenging students to write about a current issue affecting the Mountain State.

The son of Matthew and Jennifer Caleffie of Weirton, DeLancey said learning he’s a Golden Horseshoe winner “was really cool. I love history.”

“I was really surprised,” said Amanda Taylor, the daughter of Terry Taylor and Charlotte Holden, both of Wellsburg.

Anderson, the son of Lorne and Kim Anderson of Colliers, said he is excited about having the chance to see Charleston.

They and other winning eighth-graders will participate in a ceremony at the state capital in which they are dubbed knights and ladies and presented Golden Horseshoe pins.

Rhonda Combs, director of curriculum for grades kindergarten through fifth, noted the competition’s origin dates before the state’s creation.

In 1716, Alexander Spotswood, governor of the colony of Virginia, organized a party of 50 men to explore land west of the Allegheny Mountains, much of which is now West Virginia, and presented each at the end of the journey with a gold pin in the shape of a horseshoe.

On one side of the horseshoe was inscribed in Latin, “Thus he swears to cross the mountains.” On the other side was inscribed “Order of the Golden Horseshoe.” Thus, the explorers were the first to be known as the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe.

Combs noted the contest was begun in 1931 by Phil Conley, a newspaper editor, and William Cook, then state superintendent of schools. There were 87 winners from 46 of the state’s 55 counties that first year.

Since then, 15,000 students have been inducted into the Golden Horseshoe Society.

The three Brooke County winners were asked about their future plans.

Anderson said he enjoys repairing cars and may pursue a career in that field one day. DeLancey said he has no definite plans but has considered running for a public office, and Taylor, who enjoys writing fiction, would like to be a novelist.

Practice quizzes for the Golden Horseshoe exam can be found on the West Virginia Division of Culture and History’s website at

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