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.

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, 2023 – February 1, 2024 Counties and schools may register private and home-school students for access to the multiple choice online Golden Horseshoe test.
January 5, 2024 Deadline for requesting a braille test.
Tuesday, March 19, 2024 Golden Horseshoe Written Essay Test is given state-wide.
Wednesday, March 29, 2024 Deadline for Golden Horseshoe written essay tests to be scanned and emailed to the WVDE.
March 21-April 4, 2024 Golden Horseshoe Online Multiple Choice Test window.
April 9, 10, 11, 2024 Make-Up Multiple Choice Test
June 11, 2024 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, 2024.

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, 2024. 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, credentials are generated and sent to the schools.

Homeschool Students

Homeschool 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 registered, we will email the person who submitted the registration with the student’s information and instructions.

NOTE: Homeschool students are required take the exam at the local public school.

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.

Homeschool and Nonpublic School Registration Form

Practice Test Information

  • Practice Test 1 – January 22 – February 2
  • Practice Test 2 – February 5 – February 16

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 – March 19, 2024

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 March 19, 2024. 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 – March 21-April 4, 2024

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

  • Thursday, March 21: Barbour, Braxton, Doddridge, Fayette, Grant, Hardy, Marion, Mercer, Monongalia, Morgan, Pendleton
  • Tuesday, March 26: Berkeley, Brooke, Gilmer, Harrison, Jackson,  McDowell, Mineral, Raleigh, Randolph, Tyler, Webster, Eastern Panhandle Preparatory Academy
  • Wednesday, March 27: Boone, Calhoun, Hampshire, Hancock, Jefferson, Logan, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Putnam, Tucker, WVSD/B, Wyoming
  • Thursday, March 28: Lewis, Monroe, Preston, Roane, Summers, Taylor, Upshur, Wayne
  • Tuesday, April 2: Cabell, Mason, Wetzel
  • Wednesday, April 3: Clay, Lincoln, Kanawha, Wood, Wirt
  • Thursday, April 4: Greenbrier, Marshall, Mingo, Ohio, Pleasants, Ritchie, West Virginia Academy.

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 4:00 PM each afternoon.
  • The test is timed by the proctors/moderators and students should be allowed 40-45 minutes to take the test.
  • 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.

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

Essay Test

An absentee roster is maintained in each testing room by the test administrator. For the essay part of the Golden Horseshoe, only students who were absent or did not take essay should be recorded on the absentee roster. These rosters need to be emailed to Dustin Lambert.

Online Exam

During the online test, the test administrator needs to use the online test roster to record every student who took the test in the room. Do not record students who were absent. These rosters need to be emailed to Dustin Lambert.

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 Student Enrichment
Phone: (304) 558-5325

Tanya Baldwin, Coordinator (
Office of PK-12 Academic Support
Phone: (304) 558-8098 

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:
Tanya Baldwin, 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 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 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) — for an intensive week-long education and leadership program to be held either in Washington, D.C., or online. The program is merit-based and highly competitive. Each student will also receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to pursue coursework in history and political science. Now in its 62nd year, the program 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 6,100, USSYP alumni serve the country in many ways. They have become leaders in government, law, business, education, journalism, the military, medicine, healthcare, higher education and many other fields. Alumni serve as elected and appointed officials at all levels of government, including a current United States senator, a current cabinet secretary, 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 2-9, 2024
Washington, D.C.

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

The Hearst Foundations will pay all expenses for Washington Week including transportation, hotel and meals. The Department of Defense (DoD) annually provides a team of competitively selected men and women officers to serve as mentors and chaperones for the student delegates, and a registered nurse, licensed physician and professional security team are in place at all times throughout an in-person week.


Any high school junior or senior student is eligible for the program provided they have not previously been a delegate to Washington Week and have not received a USSYP scholarship.

The student must hold a high-level leadership position in any one of the following student government, civic or educational organizations during the entire 2023–2024 academic year:

  1. Student Body president, vice president, secretary or treasurer
  2. Class president, vice president, secretary or treasurer
  3. Student Council representative
  4. A National Honor Society officer (including discipline-based Honor Societies such as the National English and Social Studies Honor Societies that include service components)
  5. 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, where the student holds a high level position of representation to a constituency in a year-round capacity providing service to others.

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 and enrichment 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 summer 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 a sports team
  • 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, mock legislature, conference or competition where the primary engagement is for individual educational benefit.


Each student must be a legal permanent resident or citizen of the United States at the time of application.  Students who are not United States Citizens must be in possession of their I-551 / “green card” at the time of application to be eligible to apply. Students must be enrolled for the entire academic year in a public or independent high school located in the state (and for these purposes the District of Columbia) in which at least one of their parents or guardians currently resides. Home-educated students must be approved by their state department of education to apply.

Program Rules

  1. All delegates must agree to fully block both arrival and departure travel days to participate in Washington Week.
  3. The chief state school officer from each state, the District of Columbia and DoDEA must submit in writing to The Hearst Foundations by DECEMBER 1, 2023, the names of the two delegates and two alternates. Upon confirmation of qualifications, the program requires each delegate to submit a statement of participation including a code of conduct agreement to be signed by students and parents/legal guardians. All program rules apply to the group as a whole, defined as minors.
  4. Code of Conduct: Delegates will be the guests of the United States Senate and The Hearst Foundations throughout the program, whether in-person or online, 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. Cyber bullying and bullying of any kind will not be tolerated. Delegates must comply with all program health and safety policies.
  5. It will be the responsibility of the parents/ legal guardians to transport (at their expense) each delegate to the nearest commercial airport or train station that provides round-trip travel to Washington, D.C., from their hometown. All itineraries will be designed for the least amount of travel time and most direct routing.
  6. No arrangements for individual religious practices or services other than dietary guidelines will be made during an in-person Washington Week. This policy will be strictly observed from the time the student delegates arrive at the Washington area airports, train station and program site until they return home.
  7. The program does not allow any individual or group athletic activities outside of the hotel facility.
  8. 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. Certificates representing the award will be presented to the delegates during their visit to Washington, D.C., often personally signed by their senators.

  1. The $10,000 college scholarship and attendance at the Washington Week program are one, inseparable award. Delegates must participate in the Washington Week program in accordance with all program rules and policies in order to receive the financial scholarship.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 2023
    WVDE updates the website and electronically sends a program brochure, deadlines, and a link to the pre-qualifying questionnaire to public and non-public high schools.
  • September 15
    Last day to submit a pre-qualifying questionnaire.
  • September 18-19
    Student applications are emailed to school counselors and students.
  • October 6
    DEADLINE for completed student application (online)
  • October 10, 11, 12
    Online Exam; a link to the exam will be emailed to school counselors. All candidates within a school must take the exam on the same day at the same time being proctored by the school counselor.
  • October 19-20
    Semifinalists will be notified of advancement to the final interviews.
  • November 9
    The semifinalists will interview with a selection committee.
  • December
    Selection confirmations are submitted to the Hearst Foundations and state winners are announced.
  • March 2-9, 2024
    62nd Annual Washington Week

Test Administrator Responsibilities

  • Have students complete and submit the online pre-qualifying questionnaire by September 15, 2023. School counselors will be informed which of their students have qualified by September 20, 2023. 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 6, 2023. Semi-finalists will be informed by October 19-20.
  • Email Test Administrator’s Confidentiality Agreement to Dustin Lambert.
  • Administer the online test on October 10, 11, 12 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 15, 2023.

Supporting Documents

2024 Official USSYP Brochure

Test Administrator’s Confidentiality Agreement (to be emailed to Dustin Lambert)

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

USSYP website:
Office of Teaching and Learning
Phone: (304) 558-8098

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 20, 2023 and close on January 31, 2024. These exams will reopen on April 15, 2024 and close on June 1, 2024 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 2023-24 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 (