Fourth Grade Essay Contest

The fourth grade is the one that has been designated by state educational authorities to emphasize the study of California history.  As an incentive to encourage students in this grade to develop a particular interest in the subject, and encourage them to improve their writing skills, since 1939, many of our parlors in each District sponsor essay contests for the fourth-grade students.

There is a great flexibility in topics that the students are permitted to select, and parlors are encouraged to be as generous and variable as possible in offering supplementary prizes to help promote student participation.

The winning student and their teacher from each District receive a monetary prize.  All students receive a certificate of participation.  Each year, an overall statewide essay contest winner is selected, who also wins a monetary prize.

The winning student’s essay is published in our statewide newspaper and the essay and the student’s photo are displayed for the coming year at our museum in Colombia State Park.   There is a perpetual plaque at the museum for all winners.

For specific details concerning the essay contest, please contact Donna Fletcher (650) 755-5518 or email


SEAN FLETCHER 4th Grade Essay Winner

Sean Fletcher of Ortega Middle School in Pacifica won the Grand Prize in our 2023 4th Grade Essay Contest with the following essay.  Sean’s teacher is Gina Arguello.

Bear Flag Revolt

In the spring of 1846, a group of settlers in California were ready to rebel against the Mexican government.  They did not want to be Mexican subjects.  John C. Fremont was sent by President Polk on a surveying mission to California and the Oregon territory.  Polk secretly told Fremont to invade California if a war started.  Fremont spent months talking with settlers and helped them form groups to rebel against Mexico.

On the morning of June 14, 1846 Ezekiel Merritt and 32 settlers invaded the defenseless Mexican headquarters of Sonoma.  Colonel Mariano Vallejo was in charge of the headquarters, but he agreed with the settlers that Mexico was not doing a good job in governing California.  Vallejo agreed to give them control of Sonoma.

Though the settlers only controlled one town, they declared California free from Mexico.  They called it the Republic of California.  They created a flag with a red star, a grizzly bear and the words California Republic.  The Republic of California would last less than a month ending in July when the United Stated Navy seized Monterey declaring California as part of the United States.

After the flag was raised the Mexicans referred to the people as Los Osos or the Bears.  The people liked the name and their flag. To this day these original symbols still represent California.

Become a Native Son

Imagine joining an organization that lifts your spirit with the joy of giving to others and working/socializing with friends in making a difference in your town, and in California.