DOVER — A surprise presentation awaited Caesar Rodney High School 12th-grader Kiara Florez when she showed up to her morning art class on Thursday. She’d been selected by Google as the Delaware winner of their Doodle 4 Google contest and Google representatives, her art teacher Rob Sample, fellow classmates, school district administrators, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons and state Rep. Lyndon Yearick were on hand to celebrate the win.
Google doodles are the stylized renditions of the company’s name that appear on its homepage every day. For the past several years, the company has been hosting an art contest for K-12 students nationwide that offers the opportunity to submit a “doodle” that may be showcased on the homepage. “Hundreds of millions” of visitors see the doodles, Google officials claim.
Each state’s winner is selected by Google employees and their celebrity judge panel, which included singer Sia, Olympian Simone Biles and late night host Jimmy Kimmel this year.
The doodles must correspond to a theme. This year’s was “what I see for the future.” Kiara’s doodle, titled “World Education,” depicts international students learning in a classroom together.
“She sees the future students achieving, no matter race, gender or nationality,” Sen. Coons said. “It’s a wonderful message for those who take the time to click on the Doodle. This work is simple, yet complex, many students working together to expand their educational opportunities and horizons.”
The original doodle was done with colored pencils, ink and marker, Kiara said.
“I had the idea for the doodle in my head, so it only took me a couple hours to draw it all out,” she said.
Winning the competition came as a happy surprise to her, but it’s also a story of persistence paying off.
“I already tried for two years before for the contest and I was really lucky this year to actually win,” she said. “I just kept trying.”
Ms. Florez is one of 53 winners nationally, with entries representing every state and territory. She received an Android tablet and a T-shirt with her “doodle” on it as a prize for winning.
“Thousands of students nationwide submit their doodles to the contest,” said Google representative Andy Makielski.
Having aspirations to pursue a career in illustration, Ms. Florez noted that having a position on Google’s doodle team is one job she’d love to have one day. After graduation, she hopes to attend Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania, and major in illustration. That goal will be even more in reach if she goes on from her state-level win in the doodle competition to win the national contest because part of the prize includes a $30,000 scholarship.
In deciding the national winner, the public is invited to vote on their favorite of the 53 entries. Voting will be open from Feb. 23 to March 6. The vote will determine the five national finalists (one in each grade group). Google will announce these five national finalists and one of them as the national winner on March 31. That winner’s doodle will go live on Google.com that day. In addition to the scholarship, the national winner’s school will receive a $50,000 Google for Education grant toward the establishment and improvement of a computer lab or technology program.
To vote on the national Doodles 4 Google competition and see a full list of entries, visit google.com/doodle4google/vote.html.
Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at firstname.lastname@example.org