Margaret Thompson Historical Essay Contest

Children from grades three through six are invited to participate in the Margaret Thompson Essay contest through their schools. Essays are written covering a specific theme. Each year hundreds of essays are judged by community members. Prizes are awarded by the City Council at an ice-cream social in the garden of the Los Altos History Museum.

Winners at each grade level receive $50 for first place, $30 for second place and $20 for third place. All entrants receive a certificate of participation. In addition to individual prizes, the school with the most winners will be awarded a trophy.

For information on entering the contest, contact your elementary school. Home-schooled children may contact Los Altos School District. To volunteer for judging or preparation of awards contact Historical Commissioner Denise Welsh at (415) 999-0727 or by email at

2016 Essay Contest

Theme: Traditions and Stories that Celebrate Your Ancestry

The Los Altos History Museum’s current exhibit, “Spirits Return: Cultural Traditions Keeping Memories Alive,” highlights how human beings all over the world follow traditions by which they honor and celebrate their ancestors.  While the exhibit focuses on loved ones who have passed on, we all tell stories about our family members, whether they are living or deceased, so that we can feel connected to our heritage. Traditions and stories help us stay connected and cultivate a sense of identity and nurture values of family loyalty and pride.

Every family has traditions and stories that they like to tell each other.  How do you honor and celebrate your family members and/or ancestors?  What stories have been shared in your family?  Sharing our traditions and stories stimulates an awareness that we are more alike than different.

Margaret Thompson Historical Essay Contest Documents

2016 Cover Sheet
2016 Essay Prompt
General Instructions MTEC 2016
Rubric for Essay Contest 2016