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Golden Horseshoe winners receive royal treatment

May 9, 2008
By WARREN SCOTT, Staff writer
Seven local pupils and one Hancock County educator received royal treatment Friday from the West Virginia Superintendent of Schools and others after demonstrating their knowledge of various aspects of the Mountain State.

The six — Ethan Delekta and Joshua Lehman of Oak Glen Middle School; Kaitlin Licause and Zachary Boyer of Weir Middle School; and Wesley Eaton, Jake Riccelli and Kevin Rowland of Follansbee Middle School — were among 221 West Virginia youth dubbed knights and ladies of the West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Society.

The honor is bestowed upon the pupils who scored highest among thousands of eighth-graders from throughout the state who took the West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Examination, which tests their knowledge of government, economics, geography, history and current events in the Mountain State.

Steven Paine, state Superintendent of Schools, presided over their induction into the Golden Horseshoe Society, tapping each on the shoulder with a sword. Each student also was presented a Golden Horseshoe pin, and all were treated to a tour of the capital and cultural center and a luncheon held in their honor in Charleston.

Boyer said he was surprised to learn he was among the top scorers but credited his teacher, Donna Durkin, for his success.

“I just listened a lot in class,” he said.

“A lot of what she taught us was on the test,” agreed Licause, who also is one of Durkin’s pupils. She added Durkin also suggested several Web sites containing information about the state.

Riccelli, Rowland and Eaton credited instruction from Miranda Zwicker, their teacher, and sample quizzes they found online for helping them to prepare for the test.

The youth were administered the test online, a first for the competition, which was begun in 1931.

The seven winners have various interests, but an interest in history is a trait shared by many of them.

Riccelli and Eaton said history is their favorite subject because it involves real people and real events.

Delekta collects medieval weapons and artifacts and would like to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Licause said she’s interested in a career in law, particularly as a prosecuting attorney.

Rowland, who’s interested in a career in marine biology, said his favorite subject is math, but he was pleased to learn he had won the Golden Horseshoe competition.

Boyer said he would like to be a pharmacist.

The diversity in their career goals is mirrored by the occupations of the award’s 1,500 past recipients, who include attorneys and judges, business leaders and teachers.

The state Department of Education also has presented honorary Golden Horseshoes to adults who have gone on to promote awareness of the state’s history and culture.

Oak Glen Middle School history instructor Jim Brandolino received such an honor this week in recognition of his efforts in and out of the classroom to educate people about the Mountain State.

In addition to teaching 22 Golden Horseshoe recipients during his 39-year career in Hancock County Schools, Brandolino has used information and photos attained while visiting various sites throughout the state to create presentations viewed by nearly 700 middle school students throughout the state via a closed circuit television program and created with his students a regular column on West Virginia history for a weekly community newspaper.

He also has used a variety of teaching strategies, including involving his classes in mock trials, legislative sessions, political campaigns and elections.

Nominated for Hancock County Teacher of the Year four times, he has chaired the social studies departments of Hancock County schools several times, served as mentor to many teachers and was named to Who’s Who Among American Teachers.

(Scott can be contacted at

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