History Museum and Historical Commission Team Up for Kids’ Essay Contest

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LOS ALTOS, CA (May 26, 2020) Local youth uncovered the stories behind their family’s photographs as a prompt for the 36th Annual Margaret Thompson Historical Essay Contest, sponsored by the City of Los Altos as a joint program between the Los Altos History Museum and Los Altos Historical Commission.

Margaret Thompson, a Historical Commissioner in the 1980s, founded the contest as a way to encourage children to write. Each year, the Museum’s Education Committee decides on an essay topic, and accepts submissions from students in grades three through six from all public and private schools who live in the City of Los Altos and the Los Altos School District boundaries.

For 2020, the Museum’s Education Committee chose the theme “Peek into your Past,” linking it to J. Gilbert Smith’s love of photography and the power of photography to capture a moment in time, preserving it for future generations. Students selected a photograph of a parent, grandparent or other family member from previous generations and wrote an essay about its significance in their family history.

The Museum’s Education Committee and the Los Altos Historical Commission received a total of 224 essays written by 139 students in the Los Altos School District and 85 in private schools and home-schools.

The City of Los Altos issues winners at each grade level a prize: $50 for first place, $30 for second place and $20 for third place. In addition to individual prizes, the school with the most winners is awarded a trophy. This year’s trophy goes to Covington Elementary School. Winners are recognized at an ice cream social at the Museum in May, followed by a ceremony at City Hall. Due to the coronavirus, the ice cream social and ceremony has been postponed to a later date.

The winners, by grade level, are:

3rd grade

1st place: Jiya Ganesh

2nd place: Olivia Peters and Avery Tucker

3rd place: Cassia Seem

4th grade

1st place: Lukas Smilak and Meredith Reed

2nd place: Lula Couhalt and Isabella Wang

3rd place: Sarp Akalin

5th grade

1st place: Alex Watanabe and Boris Bektchiev

2nd place: Matthew Chen and Idris Zanghi

3rd place: Haia Almidani and Katelyn Yee

6th grade

1st place: Kate McKinley and Sienna Lew

2nd place: Sofia Colace

3rd place: Kavya Wazhi

Los Altos History Museum began in 1977 with the opening of the J. Gilbert Smith House historic farmhouse, built in 1905. In 2001, the Los Altos History Museum opened its modern building next door, which houses the Museum’s collections, permanent and changing exhibits, store and administrative offices. The Museum and its grounds are available for rent during evenings and weekends. Its collections are owned by the City of Los Altos and are managed by an independent nonprofit organization, whose staff and volunteers are responsible for all programs and operations.

The Museum and J. Gilbert Smith House are open Thursday through Sunday, from noon-4pm. Admission is free. The gardens, outdoor agricultural exhibits and picnic area are accessible beyond Museum hours. For more information, visit: www.losaltoshistory.org, email hello@losaltoshistory.org, or phone 650.948.9427 x14.

Media Contact: Marketing@losaltoshistory.org

Los Altos History Museum: Elisabeth I. Ward, 650.948.9427 x10, eward@losaltoshistory.org

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