CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Ceremonies took place at the state Culture Center in Charleston Tuesday for 8th grade students who were honored with the Goldon Horseshoe award.

The state Department of Education inducted 227 students. The award recognizes students who have excelled in West Virginia history and received a high score on their Golden Horseshoe test.

Boone County students Ava Cottrell and Jonah Mays, of Madison Middle School, joined the prestigious ranks of Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe Tuesday morning.

Cottrell and Mays each have family members who were previously honored with Goldon Horseshoe awards.

“My dad won the Golden Horseshoe and I’ve just been doing everything academics, so I was like ‘I have to win this.’ I also did the History Bowl earlier this year, so I was kind of prepared for this,” Cottrell said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

Mays has a number of family members who received the honor including his grandfather, his mother, his two aunts and his cousin.

“It’s kind of like a family tradition of ours to win the Golden Horseshoe when we’re in eighth grade,” Mays said. “I just feel like there’s a lot of pressure on me to live up to my family’s reputation of winners of the Golden Horseshoe.”

Cottrell said she’s always had a passion for history. Being that history is her favorite subject, it made learning easy. She also credits the work of her history teacher Mallory Kennedy for making it a fun topic to learn about.

“It might just be because I have an amazing West Virginia studies teachers. History is something that always interested me. I just really like it,” Cottrell said.

Cottrell said she prepared for the test by taking quizzes on the state Department of Arts, Culture and History website and by participating in the West Virginia History Bowl.

“Our history bowl class made flashcards for us to review for preparation for the History Bowl and that was mostly what prepared me. I also visited state museums multiple times because it’s the place where a lot of stuff happens,” she said.

Tuesday marked the 308th anniversary of the Golden Horseshoe.

The Golden Horseshoe was an award given by the governor of then-Virginia Colony Alexander Spotswood who organized a group of men in 1716 to explore the land west of the Allegheny Mountains, now known as West Virginia. The Golden Horseshoe was their award for bravery in crossing the mountains.

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