First Lady Cathy Justice announces winners of Golden Horseshoe Knighting Bench Design Contest


First Lady Cathy Justice announces winners of Golden Horseshoe Knighting Bench Design Contest

CHARLESTON, WVFirst Lady Cathy Justice announced the winners of the First Lady Student Artist Series Golden Horseshoe Knighting Bench Design Contest in a ceremony today at the West Virginia Culture Center.

As part of this First Lady Student Artist Series, four West Virginia Career and Technical Education Centers crafted top knighting bench designs out of wood. They were Roane-Jackson Career Technical Center, United Technical Center, Cabell County Career Technology Center, and Braxton County High School.

The winning bench will now be used to knight all future Golden Horseshoe recipients, starting with the next ceremony on Tuesday, June 13, 2023.

Top students received the following prizes:

1st Place - $300
Austin Morrison and Marin Wickline
Cabell County Career Technology Center
Cabell County

2nd Place - $200
Audrey Jackson and Chaela Harrison
United Technical Center
Doddridge, Harrison, and Taylor Counties
3rd Place - $100
Ava Bratton
Roane County High School
Roane-Jackson Career Technical Center
Roane County
Honorable Mention - $75
Emily Garrett
Braxton County High School
Braxton County
“The Governor and I are so proud of these students and their creativity,” First Lady Cathy Justice said. “Combining design work and craftsmanship to create a piece that will become part of West Virginia history is very special.”

Casi Pourfarhadi, a custom woodworker, was a special guest judge for the contest. Pourfarhani owns and operates Black Locust Woodshop with Dan Riffle in downtown Charleston, where they build custom furniture, tables, cabinets, household items and do commercial build outs. Pourfarhadi was one of two artists that collaborated on the First Lady official Christmas ornament in 2018.

Last year, the First Lady’s Student Artist Series challenged students to design an original sword for the Golden Horseshoe Knighting Ceremony. The competition was well received, and the swords have been displayed at the Governor’s Mansion. They are permanently housed in the State Museum collection.

This year, the West Virginia Department of Education awarded a grant to each of the Career Centers to cover costs associated with the creation of the knighting benches and to support their programs. 

Cabell County Career Technology Center, who took first place in the design competition, will receive a total of $2,600 in a grant to cover costs and support their Career Center Program. 

“The benches will remain in the archives forever, and this year, they will all be showcased on West Virginia Day and at our Golden Horseshoe Knighting ceremony,” WVDE Director of Student Enrichment Programs Joey Wiseman said. “The skill and craftsmanship that went into these benches is amazing, and we thank the teachers, students, and technical centers for all of their hard work.”

Contact Information

Jordan Damron,; CJ Harvey,


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