West Virginia Club
Athens High School Golden Horseshoe Award Winners
Since 1931, more than 15,000 West Virginia students have received the Golden Horseshoe Award in recognition of their knowledge of West Virginia history. Each year, thousands of eighth graders across the state take the Golden Horseshoe examination, and more than two hundred are inducted into the prestigious Golden Horseshoe Society.
A listing of inductees has been compiled by the WV State Department of Education in a database that can be found at the West Virginia Archives and History website. The information in the database was extracted from Golden Horseshoe programs, 1931-2007. A few additional names were found in the state superintendent's reports. Programs for the years 1943 to 1946 were not located. These names were provided by the State Department of Education. No program could be found for 1941. Because the information was taken directly from the programs, there may be errors in spelling. (WV Department of Education)
Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe Society
The names of students who attended public school in Athens and who were inducted as either a Knight or Lady of the Golden Horseshoe Society are found below. Click on a highlighted name for photographs and additional information if available.
|1931 - 1945||1946 -1960||1961 - 1975||1976 - 2011|
|1931 Mary Lee Martin||1946 Names not available||1961 Otis Mann||1977 Thomas Burton|
|1932 Baxter McNeer||1947 Ruth Hardy||1961 Rose Thornton||1977 Max Fezer|
|1934 Christie Houchins||1947 Harold Fletcher||1962 Glenn Reed||1978 Shari Finkelman|
|1935 Benny Reed||1947 Arbie Dransfield||1962 Suzanne Hartman||1978 Debby Hill|
|1936 Harry Crawford||1947 Katherine Dews||1962 Kenny Robertson||1978 Marla Klingensmith|
|1937 Elsie Brenaman||1948 Paula Bengert||1963 Carolyn Cunningham||1978 William Stafford|
|1938 Joe Marsh||1948 Janie Reed||1963 Debra Pennington||1979 James Sutphin|
|1938 Elwood McGuire||1948 Peggy Wells||1963 Mark Plummer||1979 Ann Geiger|
|1938 Leota Hutchinson||1949 Hawey Wells Jr.||1965 Larry Austin||1979 David Burton|
|1939 Charlene Keaton||1949 Fred Sisk||1965 Charles Fields||1979 David Poling|
|1939 Madge Vest||1949 Roseclaire Kirby||1966 Jared Butcher||1979 Chris Thompson|
|1939 C. Young||1950 Betty Hodges||1966 Paul Butler||1982 Melissa Geiger|
|1940 Joyce Toothman||1950 Wilma Kessinger||1967 Pam Payne||1982 Mary Jarrett|
|1940 Lorraine Sisk||1950 Carol Compton
||1969 Johnny Reed||2005 Kathryn Alvarez|
|1941 David Klingensmith||1951 Virginia Alvis||1970 Jana Walls||2011 Seth Green|
|1941 Nancy Grimm||1951 Elizabeth Hight||1970 Susan White||2011 Lindsey Masters|
|1942 Walter Klingensmith||1952 Suellen Ferrell||1971 Jeffery Johnson|
|1942 William Holroyd||1952 Shirley Wiley||1971 Nancy Gadd|
|1942 Margaret Scott||1952 Ruth Clark||1972 Ted Thornton|
|1943 Mary Klingensmith||1953 Lynn Robinson||1974 Cheryl Kennedy|
|1943 Marjorie Scott||1953 Robert Kinzer||1974 Rebecca Montgomery|
|1944 Calvin Grimm||1953 Wade Hash||1975 Daniel Bell|
|1944 Annola Wells||1953 John Price|
|1945 Pat Brenaman||1954 Jack Hickok|
|1945 Elizabeth Maupin||1954 Billy Hodges|
|1945 Dorothy Wells||1954 Tanannah Whitt|
|1959 Sandy Smith|
|1960 David Baxter|
|1960 Nancy Duling|
|1960 Lannie Carter|
Special Recognition of Mr. Dorsey Martin
Many of the above winners will recall Athens faculty member Mr. Dorsey Martin, who prepared them for the Golden Horseshoe test. Mr. Martin is shown with 12 of his winning students in a 1955 AHS Trojan yearbook photo that bears a caption that reads in part: “Since 1940 Athens High School has taken first place in the county-wide Golden Horseshoe Contest. Mr. Dorsey Martin has (to date) coached all of the Golden Horseshoe winners from Athens High.” Mr. Martin was honored on Awards Day in 1964 as reported by Pat Puckett in her article shown here.
Background of the West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Award
One of the highlights of the eighth-grade year is the opportunity for a student to become a Knight or Lady of the Golden Horseshoe. This prestigious program takes its name from the golden horseshoes given to the early explorers of West Virginia. In 1776 the Governor of the Virginia Colony, Alexander Spotswood, saw the need for exploration of the land west of the Allegheny Mountains, most of which is now West Virginia. The governor organized a party of about 50 men, all of whom adopted the pledge, “Sic jurat transcendere montes,” which means “Thus he swears to cross the mountains.” Governor Spotswood presented each member of the party with a small golden horseshoe to commemorate the bravery of those who crossed the mountains into Western Virginia, beginning the Golden Horseshoe tradition.
This historical tradition was revitalized in the late 1920’s. To promote the study of state history, the idea of forming West Virginia Clubs was proposed by Phil M. Conley, an editor of the West Virginia Review. In late 1929, Mr. Conley took his idea to State Superintendent of Free Schools William C. Cook. Superintendent Cook believed that the State Department of Education should take the lead in promoting a comprehensive study of the state. He proposed expanding Conley’s idea by honoring the highest-achieving students with a state award. In 1930 some 2,736 clubs were organized with more than 48,000 students as members. In the first Golden Horseshoe ceremony, held in 1931, 87 students from 46 counties were honored as Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe. The Golden Horseshoe became known as a symbol of scholastic achievement to honor students who excel in the study of West Virginia. Since that time, 15,000 eighth-grade students have received a golden pin in the shape of a horseshoe, much like those given by Governor Spotswood some three hundred years ago. This pin symbolized the student’s knowledge and understanding of their state’s proud heritage.
The program of studies in combination with state awards is unique in its statewide recognition of scholastic achievement. Each year approximately 22,000 eighth-grade students spend the school year studying a comprehensive West Virginia curriculum. The curriculum engages the students in the intense study of the history, geography, economy and government of the Mountain State. The primary goal of the program is to promote pride in our state, develop intellectual and participatory skills as well as foster attitudes that are necessary for students to participate as effective, involved, and responsible citizens. The State Department of Education, in effect, uses the Golden Horseshoe award to honor “all-state” West Virginia Studies students.
Each year 221 eighth-grade students are honored for their knowledge of the state in a one-day ceremony held in Charleston. The Golden Horseshoe winners have outscored their classmates in school and county-wide testing competitions and made top scores on a West Virginia Department of Education test which measures their grasp of West Virginia Studies. Students also write an essay focusing on some aspect of West Virginia current events. A minimum of two students from each county and one student from the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind at Romney are selected for the award. The other 110 honorees are selected from the 55 counties based on each county’s eighth-grade population.
While in Charleston to celebrate Golden Horseshoe Day, the honorees are treated to a tour of the Capitol and Cultural Center and a luncheon held in their honor. The high point of the Golden Horseshoe Ceremony is the induction of the students into the Golden Horseshoe Society. The State Superintendent of Schools presides over the induction ceremony. Each student kneels and, with a tap of a sword on the shoulder, is dubbed either a Knight or Lady of the Golden Horseshoe Society. Each student is presented a Golden Horseshoe pin, and the 70-year honor and tradition continues. (WV Department of Education)