By Father Bill Matheny WEST VIRGINIA—A highlight of the eighth-grade year in West Virginia is the opportunity for a student to become a Knight or Lady of the Golden Horseshoe. Named for the golden horseshoes given to the early explorers of what is now West Virginia by Alexander Spotswood, the Governor of the Virginia colony, the program recognizes students for their knowledge of West Virginia history, geography, government, and current events. Normally, the county winners gather at the West Virginia Center for Culture and History in Charleston on June 25. Because the 2020 ceremony was cancelled due to COVID, those winners received their awards June 24, 2021. The 21 winners for this year from the diocese’s Catholic schools and their West Virginia Studies teachers are as follows: Charleston Catholic High School, Ewan Becher, Jonah DiCocco, Zachary Harrison, Aurelia Kirby, William Salutillo, John Christian Settle (Alicia Phebus); Notre Dame―High School in Clarksburg, Hayden Lewis (Jason Lake); Fairmont Catholic―School, Cameron Harley (Hannah Bartic); St. Joseph School in Martinsburg,― Claire Freeman, Nathaniel Fusiarski, Lydia Hayes, Colleen Power, Ian Saylor, Abraham Warui (Ryan Cascio, Annette Breen); Parkersburg Catholic―High School, Sophia D’Eramo, Truman Roberts, Helena Teltscher, (Bud Tate); St. Joseph the Worker―Grade School, Kenneth Goddard (Kelsie Felton); St. Michael―Parish School in Wheeling, Emily Blatt, Ava Hanson, Luke Tiu (Thomas Olivier) Four Catholic schools had the most winners in their counties. Charleston Catholic led Kanawha County for the third consecutive year with six of its 13 winners. St. Joseph had six of Berkeley County’s ten winners. St. Michael dominated Ohio County with three of its four winners, while Parkersburg Catholic had three of Wood County’s seven winners. Bud Tate began teaching social studies at Parkersburg Catholic in the 2014 school year. His principal directed him to establish a curriculum that would help PCHS eighth grade students be competitive in the Golden Horseshoe test. The last Golden Horseshoe winner at PCHS was in 1984. Mr. Tate uses a variety of pedagogical methods such as identification techniques, memorization skills, videos, art projects, and games to encourage his students to excel on the exam. PCHS has had 19 Golden Horseshoe winners since he arrived seven years ago. In her fourth year of teaching at Charleston Catholic, Alicia Phebus stated: “The best comparison I have for teaching and learning during the pandemic is navigating uncharted waters. Preparing for the Golden Horseshoe proved to be yet another challenge for both my students and me. Unable to hold weekly after school review sessions in my classroom or to fairly administer weekly ‘Quick Quizzes’ amid the bouncing back and forth from virtual to in-person school, I had to think of new ways to provide my students with the opportunity to study for the Golden Horseshoe. This year, I held an Olympics-like trivia competition with prizes to entice my students. The Golden Horseshoe Test goes far beyond the scope of the 8th grade social studies curriculum. You must go the extra mile to win. Thankfully, I have so many students who are willing to go the extra mile with me. This marks the third year in a row that Charleston Catholic has led Kanawha County and the State of West Virginia in the number of Golden Horseshoe recipients.” Phebus has had 24 winners in the past four years. Annette Breen assists Ryan Cascio in preparing the Saint Joseph students for the test. They meet three times a week after school for additional study. A former West Virginia Studies teacher at Saint Joseph, Jason Allen, now serves as the coordinator for Social Studies education at Shepherd University. He was selected as an Honorary Recipient of the Golden Horseshoe because the downtown Martinsburg school had ten winners during his teaching tenure there. Thomas Olivier, in his first year at Saint Michael Parish School, used a study guide provided by a former parish priest, focusing on history, geography, government, and economics. He gave GH mini-quizzes weekly and offered practice tests from the West Virginia Department of Education. They also spent time on the important WV current events of 2019 and 2020, such as the Supreme Court of Appeals changes, the pandemic, the PPP loans, CARES Act funds, and the 2020 election. With 21 Golden Horseshoe winners, our Diocesan Catholic schools continue to promote academic excellence within the framework of a loving and supporting Christ-centered environment.