Last updateTue, 21 Feb 2017 4pm


Museum contest asks students to ’bear’ down

The Los Altos Historical Commission and the Los Altos History Museum co-sponsor the 29th annual Margaret Thompson Historical Essay Contest, open to third- through sixth-graders who live in the area and/or attend local schools. Students who are home- schooled may also participate.

Copies of the prompt and directions are available through local schools, the History Museum and online at the city’s website, www.ci.los-altos.ca.us under “Historical Commission.”

The deadline to submit essays is March 8.

This year’s theme, “Bear in Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly,” reflects the theme of the Los Altos History Museum exhibition of the same name.

Exhibition data estimate that approximately 10,000 grizzlies once inhabited California. The early California settlers killed grizzly bears until the 1920s, when the species became extinct in the area. The exhibition provides background on the California Grizzly, including these facts: Grizzlies are extinct in California because of the growth in human population, loss of habitat and hunting. Bears and other wild animals are important to the food chain and the ecosystem. The grizzly bear is represented on the California flag and symbolizes the West.

Entrants must select one of the following writing prompts.

1. Take a journey back in time to the 1800s in California when grizzlies roamed freely. Describe grizzlies and how they lived: habitat, food, predators and interesting facts. Think about and describe what caused them to become extinct. Provide suggestions on how we can protect other endangered species in California.

2. Imagine a day with your favorite bear character or your personal teddy bear. Favorite characters such as Smokey the Bear, Paddington Bear, Winnie the Pooh and Yogi Bear are on display or discussed in the “Bear in Mind” exhibition. Describe how you would feed and protect your bear and the activities you and your bear could share.

Winners at each each grade level will receive cash prizes: first place, $50; second, $30; and third, $20. Winners will be recognized at a Los Altos City Council meeting and treated to an ice cream social.

For more information, email Historical Commissioner Denise Welsh at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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