The Offices of PK-12 Academic Support and Student Enrichment Programs are pleased to sponsor both the Golden Horseshoe Program and the West Virginia State Social Studies Fair. In addition, we partner with several organizations to provide our students and teachers with exciting events and opportunities such as the United States Senate Youth Program (in collaboration with the Hearst Foundations), Youth and Government/Youth In Government (with the Youth Leadership Association), National History Day (with WVU’s History Department), and the Gilder-Lehrman Institute’s Teacher of Year Award. We also provide information for required state code such as social studies assessments and Celebrate Freedom Week.

If you need assistance with any of these programs, please contact Dustin Lambert, social studies coordinator, at (304) 558-8098 or

This award recognizes exceptional K–12 American history teachers across the country. Nominate a teacher today.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
19 West 44th Street, Suite 500
New York, NY 10036

The Golden Horseshoe Test has been administered in West Virginia each year since 1931 and is the longest running program of its kind in any state. The top-scoring students in each county receive the prestigious award and are inducted as “knights” and “ladies” of the Golden Horseshoe Society

golden horse shoe icon

Upcoming Dates

December 1, 2022 – February 1, 2023 Counties and schools may register private and home-school students for access to the multiple choice online Golden Horseshoe test.
January 6, 2023 Deadline for requesting a braille test.
Tuesday, February 21, 2023 Golden Horseshoe Written Essay Test is given state-wide.
Wednesday, March 1, 2023 Deadline for Golden Horseshoe written essay tests to be scanned and emailed to the WVDE.
February 28-March 14, 2023 Golden Horseshoe Online Multiple Choice Test window.
March 20-24, 2023 Make-Up Multiple Choice Test
June 13, 2023 Golden Horseshoe Ceremony

Golden Horseshoe Information

About the WV 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 1716 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 monte,” which means “Thus he swears to cross the mountains.” Governor Spotswood presented each member of his 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 approximately 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 symbolizes 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 the 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.

Facts About the WV Golden Horseshoe Award

The Golden Horseshoe originated in the early 1700s in colonial Virginia when then-Governor 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 to explore the frontier. At the end of the exploration, he presented each member of the party with a golden horseshoe. Translated from Latin, the inscription on each horseshoe read, “Thus it was decided to cross the mountains.” On the other side was written,”Order of the Golden Horseshoe.” Because of this, the recipients became known as “The Knights of the Golden Horseshoe.”

The Golden Horseshoe is probably the most coveted award bestowed upon West Virginia students each year. During the induction ceremony, students kneel and the State Superintendent, using an antique sword, dubs students as “ladies” or “knights” of the Golden Horseshoe.

The Golden Horseshoe Test has been administered in West Virginia since 1931 and is the longest-running program of its kind in any state.

Two hundred twenty-one West Virginia eighth graders receive the award each year. The two top-scoring students from each county are given the award (total of 110), as are another 110 students selected throughout the state based on population. In addition, the top-scoring student from the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind is presented the award.

Recipients during the past seven decades include citizens from all walks of life, state Supreme Court justices, legislators, attorneys, business leaders and educators.

In conversations with Department of Education officials, West Virginia native Homer Hickam indicated that his one regret was not winning the Golden Horseshoe award as a student. The author of “October Sky” was presented an honorary Golden Horseshoe award in 1999 because of all the positive reinforcement he has given the state.

Have you Lost Your Golden Horseshoe Pin?

Students who are inducted in to the prestigious society receive what some call one of the most treasured pieces of memorabilia of their school days, the Golden Horseshoe pin. These pins are awarded to eighth grade students who achieve the highest scores on the Golden Horseshoe test in their county.

Realizing that some recipients have lost their pins over the years, the WVDE can help replace them. Anyone who has lost his/her pin can download a form that can be sent in to order a replacement pin.

Request a New Pin Form (Word Format)

Please verify your information and Year as we have it in our database. You can find the database of winners here:
WV Culture Golden Horseshoe Winners

Preparing for the Golden Horseshoe Essay and Multiple Choice Online Test

Visit the Golden Horseshoe Preparation Page

Providing Access to the Golden Horseshoe Online Practice and Actual Tests for your county’s students

All 8th grade students must take the Golden Horseshoe Test. This test is a competition, but also fulfills the social studies testing requirement pursuant to W.Va. State Code §18-2-9. It is not a summative exam. We will be using WebTop to administer the Golden Horseshoe Online Multiple Choice Test. Students who are not familiar with this platform become familiar with it by taking the weekly practice test. We request that all students test their usernames and passwords by January 31, 2023.

Both home and private school students are eligible to take the test. All students must be registered using the Golden Horseshoe Registration form by February 1, 2023. The form must be filled out completely and correctly. If the form is not completely correct, the form will be returned and the student(s) will not be registered.

Public School Students

Public school students do not need to be registered. To access the tests students will need a username and password for the WebTop. If students do not have the login information, it may be obtained through your building principal and/or county technology specialist. Your county technology specialist can provide you with a new or simplified login if you need one.

Once correctly completed private/homeschool registrations have been received by the WVDE Office of Secondary Learning, credentials are generated and sent to the schools. It takes about a week to a week-and-a-half to get the students enrolled.

Home-School Students

Home-school students will need to be registered to take the test. The registration form can only be completed by a teacher, counselor, or school/county administrator where the student would normally have attended public school. Once the student has been enrolled, we will e-mail the person who submitted the registration with the student’s information and instructions. The process should take no more than one week. If it does, please send an email to Dustin Lambert,

NOTE: Home-school students are required to go the school that they would normally have attended to take the Essay Test and the Online Golden Horseshoe Test

Private School Students

Private schools may participate as long as they have a school code and complete the registration form. The school code and county code can be obtained from the Master School Code website, by selecting the county the school is located in and then scrolling through the list of schools.

NOTE: Private schools must take the essay test and online Golden Horseshoe test on the same day as the rest of the county. Private schools should notify the county Golden Horseshoe County Contact that they are participating so that information can be distributed to the school.

If a private school does not have a school code, one can be obtained by contacting the Office of Information Systems at 1-833-627-2833.

Golden Horseshoe Registration Form

Practice Test Information

Practice Test 1 – January 16th – January 27th

Practice Test 2 – January 30th – February 10th

Students are only permitted to take each test once. We do not release practice test scores. The practice test is used to familiarize students to the testing portal. 

Students access the practice tests using the same icon in webtop (for public school students) or the same external link (for nonpublic and homeschool students).

Essay Test – February 21, 2023

The essay test is not required and if a student chooses not to complete the essay it does NOT disqualify them from taking the online Golden Horseshoe Test. The essay test is used to break a tie between scores for the online test.

The essay test is scheduled for February 21, 2023. One week prior to the test, we will e-mail the essay question to the Golden Horseshoe County Contact.

We only accept scanned submissions of Golden Horseshoe essays by the county contact. Please collect all essays from schools and scan them into individual PDF files by SCHOOL NAME. We are no longer accepting mailed copies of the essays.

  • The essay test CAN be administered by the regular WV studies teacher in a regular 40-45 minute class period.
  • The teacher/test administrator will be asked to complete a confidentiality agreement and an absentee roster. The absentee roster should include students who are absent on the day of the essay test and any student who chooses NOT to take the essay test.

Online Test – February 28-March 14, 2023

Please reference the schedule below for testing dates. Each county is assigned a specific date.

  • Tuesday, February 28: Brooke, Hancock, Ohio, Wetzel
  • Wednesday, March 1: Barbour, Boone, Cabell, Doddridge, Hardy, Harrison, Monongalia, Pendleton, Ritchie, Tucker
  • Thursday, March 2: Berkeley, Braxton, Gilmer, Grant, Marshall, Morgan, Putnam, Taylor, Tyler, WVSD/B
  • Tuesday, March 7: Clay, Hampshire, Lincoln, McDowell, Nicholas, Wyoming
  • Wednesday, March 8: Greenbrier, Lewis, Mason, Mercer, Mingo, Preston, Summers, Webster, Wirt, Wood, Wayne
  • Thursday, March 9: Jefferson, Kanawha, Mineral, Monroe, Roane, Fayette
  • Tuesday, March 14: Calhoun, Logan, Marion, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Randolph, Upshur, Jackson

Public school students access the testing platform via their WebTop. Home and private-school students will have an external link to access the practice and online tests.

Essay Test Forms:

The online test is a 50 multiple choice question test that can be completed in 40-45 minutes.

Test proctor/Moderator

  • The test proctor/moderator/administrator MUST NOT be the regular classroom teacher for the online Golden Horseshoe Test.
  • The test will be turned on at 7 AM each morning and off at 3:45 PM each afternoon.
  • The test is timed by the proctors/moderators and students should be allowed 40-45 minutes to take the test. The test will NOT shut the test down after 40-45 minutes.
  • If a student has an IEP that requires classroom accommodations, please provide those accommodations. For example, if a student requires extra time, please give that student extra time. If a student requires someone to read to them, please arrange for someone to read the test to the student

The regular WV Studies teacher may NOT administer the Online Golden Horseshoe Test to the students. The WVDE requires an online confidentiality agreement stating that the test administrator is NOT the regular WV Studies teacher and will keep all information regarding the Golden Horseshoe test confidential. This confidentiality agreement must be signed 3 days prior to the county’s scheduled test day.

Internet Usage Tips on Test Day

  • We suggest that you ask all other computer users to refrain from downloading or tying up the broadband.
  • If there is an internet slow down, please allow the students enough time to make the test fair.
  • If a student is kicked off the Internet, just have them log back in. As long as the student has not submitted the test, he/she can reenter the test

After the testing is complete, all absentee rosters will need to be e-mailed/faxed to the WVDE Office of Middle/Secondary Learning. We will check to make sure that the county’s winners are not on the absentee list before declaring them actual winners.

Online Test Forms

Please email your roster and confidentiality agreements to Dustin Lambert.


The number of winners is determined by population, but every county is given a minimum of two winners. The larger the population, the larger the number of winners. The Golden Horseshoe test is a competition within a county NOT within the state. We do not have average scores for the state or counties.

Nominating Honorees

Each year, it is customary to honor selected educators or individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to West Virginia, West Virginia Studies and/or Golden Horseshoe program by naming them as Honorary Knights or Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe. An individual is nominated by the county superintendent only. Each county superintendent may nominate only one person per year. Only 10 persons a year may receive the award. In the event more than 10 nominations are received, a committee will review all nominations and select the ten most deserving nominees. To nominate an individual, please complete the Golden Horseshoe Online Honorary Nomination Form



Contact Information

Dustin Lambert, Coordinator (
Office of Middle/Secondary Learning
Phone: 1-833-627-2833
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
Building 6 Room 221
Charleston, WV 25305

About the Fair


Exemplary education requires the reciprocal participation of the community and the student.  Effective social studies education requires the engagement of the learner in the investigation of the social science issues.

West Virginia social studies education affords all students the opportunity to ask essential questions, recognize patterns of behavior, think critically, create solutions, predict outcomes and draw conclusions to help them learn to solve problems.  With these opportunities in place, students of social studies will be prepared as participatory citizens of the 21st Century global society. The West Virginia State Social Studies Fair provides the opportunity for students to excel in these realms. Visit the West Virginia State Social Studies Fair Website for detailed information.


It is the intent of the Social Studies fair to:

  • Recognize and reward outstanding achievements of Social Studies students; Implement the Next Generation West Virginia Content Standards and Objectives for Social Studies (Policy 2520.4);
  • Develop among participants an ability to apply the scientific method as it applies to social studies investigations;
  • Challenge students to be inventive and think creatively; Provide relevance;
  • Encourage students to demonstrate what they know and to observe what others throughout the state know regarding social studies content;
  • Provide the opportunity for students to interpret the cultural, social, political, geographic and economic forces of historical and current issues and events and to understand more fully the nature of social studies;
  • Encourage students to draw more heavily on all areas of social studies as a means of broadening and deepening their understanding of social science concepts and principles;
  • Encourage students to practice information and communication skills, thinking and problem-solving skills, interpersonal and self-directional skills;
  • Provide a forum for student public speaking;
  • Generate public interest in and appreciation for the broad interdisciplinary areas of social studies;
  • Develop a greater public appreciation and understanding of the abilities of youth;
  • Encourage global awareness, economic and civic literacies, health and wellness;
  • Provide an opportunity for students to implement the 21st Century learning skills (Policy 2520.14);
  • Encourage the utilization of technology tools where appropriate (Policy 2520.14).

Contact Information:
Dustin Lambert, Coordinator (
Help (
Office of Middle/Secondary Learning
Phone: 1-833-627-2833
FAX:  304-558-1834
1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East
Building 6 Room 221
Charleston, WV  25305

Program Overview

The United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution in 1962 creating the UNITED STATES SENATE YOUTH PROGRAM (USSYP), a national nonpartisan initiative to provide an annual opportunity for talented high school students with demonstrated leadership abilities to deepen their understanding of America’s political processes and strengthen their resolve to pursue careers in public service.

The USSYP annually brings the highest-level officials from each branch of government to meet with this outstanding group of young leaders—two high school juniors or seniors from each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA)— for an intensive week-long education and leadership program. The program is merit-based and highly competitive.

Now in its fifty-ninth year, the program known as Washington Week has been fully funded since inception by THE HEARST FOUNDATIONS as an enduring commitment to preparing young people for civic leadership in our participatory democracy.

Numbering more than 5,800, USSYP alumni serve the country in many ways. USSYP alumni have become leaders in government, law, business, education, journalism, the military, medicine, health care, higher education and many other fields. Alumni serve as elected and appointed officials at all levels of government, including two United States senators, many congressional staff members, a former governor, former senior political advisors to the president of the United States, former ambassadors and former federal judges. The commonality to all of their success is the desire to serve.

USSYP Washington Week – March 4-11, 2023
Washington, D.C.

Delegates will participate in interactive online policy addresses with senators, cabinet members, officials of the Departments of State and Defense, leaders of other federal agencies and senior members of the national media. Delegates traditionally participate in a meeting with a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and the president of the United States. Speaking events typically include in-depth question and answer sessions.


  • High school junior or senior
  • Have not previously been a delegate to the program
  • Each student must be a legal permanent resident or citizen of the United States at the time of application. Students who are not U.S. citizens must be in possession of their I-551.
  • Students must be enrolled for the entire academic year in a public or independent high school located in the state. (Home-educated students must be approved by the West Virginia Department of Education to apply).
  • Student must demonstrate leadership by serving in elected or appointed positions:
  • Qualifying positions include a high-level leadership position in any one of the following student government, civic or educational organizations:
    • Student Body president, vice president, secretary or treasurer
    • Class president, vice president, secretary, or treasurer
  • Student Council representative
  • A National Honor Society officer (including discipline-based Honor Societies such as the National English and Social Studies Honor Societies that include service components)
  • Student representative elected or appointed (appointed by a panel, commission or board) to a local, district, regional or state-level civic, service and/or educational organization approved by the state selection administrator.

All student leadership positions will be verified and approved by the state selection administrator through the online pre-qualifying questionnaire.

Participation or holding an officer position in academic clubs, educational competition programs/conferences, or organizations designed primarily for the student’s personal development do not qualify a student for the USSYP, although many students who qualify participate in these activities. The positions listed below DO NOT qualify the student for the program:

  • Attendance or officer position at Boys/Girls Nation or State conference
  • Member of a National Honor Society (serving as an elected officer for the organization for the entire school year is acceptable)
  • Member or leader of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or JROTC
  • A founder or chairperson of a self-created group
  • A participant, captain or officer in Mock Trial, Debate Team, Model UN, or other academic club, conference or competition where the primary engagement is for individual educational enrichment.

Program Rules

  • Attending the entire Washington Week public service and leadership program and the college scholarship are one, inseparable award. Attendance at all program events is required and monitored.
  • All students must agree in writing to fully block the entire formal time frame of the program to participate in Washington Week.
  • No outside activities, schoolwork, appointments, meetings or other communications will be permitted to interrupt an individual delegate’s full attendance of the program. This policy includes any other outside activity, class, conference, scholarship competition or event of another organization taking place during the Washington Week.


March 3-11, 2022
Washington, D.C.

  • Code of Conduct: Delegates will be the guests of the United States Senate and The Hearst Foundations throughout the program and are required to conduct themselves with civility, dignity and professionalism. Debate and discussion are actively encouraged in an environment of tolerance, respect and inclusion. Students selected to the program are serving as at-large public representatives of their states, communities and schools, and attend the program to learn from the speakers and from one another. Students are prohibited from engaging in lobbying, petitioning, protest or overt political activism during Washington Week, whether in person or online.
  • Failure to abide by rules and requirements of the program will result in dismissal from the program and forfeiture of the $10,000 scholarship award. Rules related to the USSYP and scholarship award shall be construed, interpreted and applied by The Hearst Foundations, whose action and determination shall be final and binding.


  • The Hearst Foundations believe it is in the public interest to encourage these outstanding young people to continue their educational development. The $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship award is subject to the conditions and requirements specified below. Additional detailed scholarship information will be provided to the delegates after Washington Week.
  • The $10,000 college scholarship and attendance at the Washington Week program are one, inseparable award. Delegates must attend all meetings during Washington Week in accordance with program rules and policies in order to receive the financial scholarship.
  • The USSYP scholarship is designated for undergraduate college study only at an accredited United States college or university. All students are encouraged to include history, political science or related subjects in their undergraduate program.
  • The $10,000 scholarship is designated for the specified student’s education expense and must be used within four years after enrollment. Funds are paid directly to the college or university in the student’s behalf. No funds may be given directly to a student. The scholarship will be issued in either one payment of $10,000 or increments of $5,000 or $2,500.
  • Students attending military academies (U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard) may draw the USSYP scholarship per the guidelines to purchase required military uniforms, books, computer equipment and other educational materials.
  • A student will automatically forfeit eligibility for a scholarship award by failure to abide by all rules and requirements pertaining to the program and the scholarship or in the event of misconduct as a delegate to the United States Senate Youth Program.

Program Timeline

  • August 2022
    WVDE updates the website and electronically sends program brochure, deadlines, and a link to the pre-qualifying questionnaire to public and non-public high schools.
  • September 16
    Last day to submit a pre-qualifying questionnaire.
  • September 19-20
    Student applications are emailed to school counselors.
  • October 7
    DEADLINE for completed student application (online)
  • October 11, 12, 13
    Online Exam; all candidates within a school must take the exam on the same day at the same time being proctored by the school counselor.
  • October 20-21
    Semifinalists will be notified of advancement to the final interviews
  • November 10
    The semifinalists will interview with a selection committee.
  • December
    Selection confirmations are submitted to the Hearst Foundation and state winners are announced.
  • March 4-11, 2023
    61st Annual Washington Week

Test Administrator Responsibilities

  • Have students complete and submit the online pre-qualifying questionnaire by September 16, 2022. School counselors will be informed which of their students have qualified by September 20, 2022. The student application with instructions will be emailed to each counselor.
  • Assist students in completing and submitting the entire application for qualified applicants by October 7, 2022. Semi-finalists will be informed by October 20-21.
  • Email Test Administrator’s Confidentiality Agreement to Dustin Lambert.
  • Administer the online test on October 11, 12, or 13 to qualified applicants.

Pre-Qualifying Questionnaire

The pre-qualifying questionnaire is the first step in the application process. This questionnaire must be completed by students by September 16, 2022.

Supporting Documents

2023 Official USSYP Brochure

Test Administrator’s Confidentiality Agreement (to be emailed to Dustin Lambert before October 3rd, 2023)

Principal Certification Letter (to be uploaded to the online student application)

USSYP Authorization Form (to be uploaded to the online student application)

Contact Information

Dustin Lambert, USSYP State Administrator
Office of Middle & Secondary Services
Phone: 1-833-627-2833

The Purpose

Our 8th graders learn the operation of state government, strengthen their understanding of the three branches of government, better understand the Constitution, and learn the responsibilities of citizenship.

The Students

Participation is open to 8th graders from every school and homeschoolers from across the state. The program currently reaches students from thirty (30) counties and seventy-seven (78) different schools. Our goal is for every county to participate.

The Classroom

The Capitol – Senate, House of Delegates, Governor’s Office, Supreme Court, other Constitutional Officers; the United States Federal Court and the Charleston Municipal Court.

The Instructors

Legislators, Judges, Department Heads, Program Volunteers, and YLA staff.

The Schedule

Session #1

January 23-25, 2023

Brooke, Cabell, Hancock, Lincoln, Marion, Marshall, Monongalia, Ohio, Wayne, Wetzel, Wyoming

Session #2

January 30-February 1, 2023

Doddridge, Jackson, Lewis, Mason, McDowell, Putnam, Ritchie, Roane, Taylor Tyler, Wirt, Wood

Session #3

February 15-17, 2023

Barbour, Boone, Clay, Fayette, Logan, Mercer, Nicholas, Preston, Raleigh, Tucker

February 22-24, 2023

Berkeley, Calhoun, Gilmer, Hampshire, Harrison, Kanawha, Mineral, Pocahontas, Randolph, Webster

Session #5

February 27-March 1, 2023

Braxton, Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Jefferson, Mingo, Monroe, Morgan, Pendleton, Pleasants, Summers, Upshur

Legislative Banquet

Students get to meet and interact with their Legislators at an evening banquet.

The Learning Model

Observation, questioning, and discussion with elected and appointed officials, as well as key government staff help students experience the complete process of governance.

The Sponsors

The 8th Grade Youth & Government Seminars are a program of the Youth Leadership Association in cooperation with the WV Department of Education, Governor’s Office, WV Supreme Court of Appeals, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer of State, President of the Senate and Senators, Speaker of the House and Delegates, Charleston Municipal Court, United States Federal Court, WV State Bar Foundation, participating parents, schools and teachers, and Founder Al Emch from Jackson Kelly.

Now – enjoy, learn, help others, and make lasting differences for good!

For more information, please visit:

Welcome to our YLA West Virginia Youth in Government!

Ohio-West Virginia Youth Leadership Association

For well over 60 years, West Virginia’s best and brightest students have been meeting annually to participate in Youth in Government!  Cecil Underwood was Governor when he worked with our HI-Y students, advisors and staff to plan our first YG.  Their work convened our first WV YG in 1958 at the Capitol.  The founding principles Governor Underwood and those helping him built into Youth in Government remain our foundation today – integrity, volunteer service, responsibility, and citizenship.

YLA Youth in Government is distinctly different.  We’re about citizenship, not politics, political careers, talk, or debate. YG seeks solutions for the common good as we lift others up to become their very best, work to change conditions so all succeed, and to make our make our schools, communities and state better than we found them.

In these three days at the Capitol, experience the process of state government by preparing and then presenting legislation in the actual House or Senate Chambers, make decisions to move West Virginia forward, create connections with peers and adults from across our state, and have a great time with a purpose.  Make friends, learn all you can, put your best ideas forward, and make differences for good now and throughout your life.

YLA began as a State YMCA in 1867.  The Youth Leadership Association is inclusive, signaling an invitation to all to participate.  New doors of opportunity are opening for more youth to benefit in all YLA programs.  YLA youth will make even greater contributions to improving our communities, states, and nation.

You choose where you want to participate.  Become a legislator, justice, page, press member, lobbyist or executive branch member.

Participating Dates

66th WV YLA Youth In Government – April 27-29, 2023 (Thursday-Saturday)

Senate Bill 636 requires the administration of a cumulative American history and civics test prior to high school graduation. In addition, all Grade 8 students must now take the Golden Horseshoe online exam.

It is mandatory of students to take the American history exam at the end of their last U.S. history course (AP U.S. History, U.S. Comprehensive, or Contemporary Studies) and the civics exam which also meets the citizenship test requirement must be taken at the end of Civics or AP Government and Politics prior to graduation. Each county must establish record keeping protocols to ensure documentation of each graduate’s examination of the two required high school tests. The Golden Horseshoe online test will be administered to Grade 8 students using the schedule found on this website under Golden Horseshoe.

The WVDE will provide a list of students who took the American history and civics exam with their scores at the end of each semester. The Golden Horseshoe results will be sent after the award ceremony in June. The scores will be emailed directly to the county superintendent.

Please ensure all students Grades 8-12 have access to webtop using their Office 365 credentials. Depending on how scores are utilized, counties should consider testing all students on the same day.

While the Golden Horseshoe, American history, and civics (citizenship) exams are not formal summative assessments, these exams address specific topics as outlined in W.Va. Code 18-2-9. However, like the Golden Horseshoe exam, only the classroom accommodations, as prescribed on an IEP, such as read aloud by an adult and extended time, should be provided on these exams.

The American history and civics exams will open on November 21, 2022 and close on January 27, 2023. These exams will reopen on April 17, 2023 and close on June 1, 2023 for the spring semester.

For more information on Golden Horseshoe please see the information on the page under Golden Horseshoe.

The Confidentiality Agreement for the American history and civics exams is located below:

American History and Civics Exams Confidentiality Agreement

Additional Information:

WV State Code §18-2-9 requires county boards of education to establish a full week of classes to be recognized as “Celebrate Freedom Week” during the regular school year.

The purpose of Celebrate Freedom Week is to educate students about the sacrifices made for freedom in the founding of this country and the values on which this country was founded.

Celebrate Freedom Week must include appropriate instruction in each social studies class which

  1. Includes an in-depth study of the intent, meaning and importance of the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Constitution of the United States with an emphasis on the Bill of Rights;
  2. Uses the historical, political and social environments surrounding each document at the time of its initial passage or ratification;
  3. Includes the study of historical documents to firmly establish the historical background leading to the establishment of the provisions of the Constitution and Bill of Rights by the founding fathers for the purposes of safeguarding our Constitutional republic.

The requirements of this subsection are applicable to all public, private, parochial and denominational schools located within this state. Nothing in this subsection creates a standard or requirement subject to state accountability measures. To help educators select resources that address both the requirements of the bill and the West Virginia College- and Career-Readiness Standards in social socials, the Office of Teaching and Learning has prepared the following document that includes both the related CCRS by grade and a brief list of useful resources.

Please note that these resources are:

  1. Only some of the resources available
  2. Provided for educators’ convenience.

They are not to be construed as curriculum, nor should they be considered as required in any sense.

Download The Celebrate Freedom Week 2022-23 Resource Booklet

About National History Day

National History Day is now being coordinated through West Virginia University. For information on the national contest please visit For information on local and state history day competitions and to begin a history day program at your school please contact Melissa Bingman (

The National Contest is the final stage of a series of contests at local and state/affiliate levels. Students begin their journey by presenting their projects in classrooms, schools, and districts around the world. Top entries are invited to the state/affiliate level contests. The top two entries in every category at the state/affiliate level are then invited to the National Contest.

Each year nearly 3,000 students with their families and teachers gather at the University of Maryland, College Park for the week-long event. These enthusiastic groups come from all fifty United States, Washington, D.C., Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and international schools in China, Korea, and South Asia. The excitement can be felt across the campus. After spending months on project research and preparation, and competing at local and affiliate contests, these students are eager to show their hard work at the National Contest.


National History Day motivates students to discover history by:

  • Cultivating interest:  students research a topic of their choice
  • Developing research skills: students act as historians discovering how to uncover primary sources, build historical context and form historical interpretations
  • Becoming experts on their research topic:  presenting their research to teachers, students and historians
  • Achieving success
    • The shy student gains confidence when speaking about a topic he/she has research.
    • The apathetic student gains passion by choosing a topic of personal interest.
    • The high achieving student increases his/her ability to articulate their learning through presentation.

Questions to: Melissa Bingman (