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Levittown girl Audrey Zhang in the running for Google homepage doodle contest
Using colored pencils and markers, 10-year-old Audrey Zhang spent hours after school for two weeks creating her idea of paradise — a forest filled with mythical creatures.
After submitting her artwork into a national competition, the fourth grader is now one step closer to having her drawing displayed on Google’s homepage for millions to see.
Audrey was recognized at her school on Wednesday as one of 50 state finalists in the 6th annual Doodle 4 Google competition.
Doodle 4 Google is a national art competition open to K-12 students across the United States to redesign the Google logo inspired by the theme “My Best Day Ever . . .”
“My best day ever will be when I discover my paradise,” Audrey said, a student at Michael F. Stokes Elementary School in Levittown. “I put creatures that aren’t real in my ‘paradise’ because I wish they were real. I wanted it to be beautiful.”
A panel of Google employees first narrowed the 130,000 submissions from across the country down to 250 doodles based on how they felt each student best represented the theme. In each state, one doodle was selected in per grade group.
“It’s an opportunity for young people to express their creativity and imagination,” said Thomas Ranese, director of Global Marketing Communications, representing Google. “Google wants to inspire these kids to become future artists some day.”
Though her mother Hongmei Weng was already confident her daughter’s art would be recognized, she was overjoyed with the news. Her daughter started drawing at age 2, she said.
“It’s not surprising that Audrey made it this far,” she said. “She’s really, really talented.”
Guest judges Katie Couric, puppeteer Brian Henson, and animator Chris Sanders helped select the best doodle from each state in March. Doodles from state finalists will be displayed at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan May 22 through July 14.
The public can vote at www.google.com/doodle4google for their favorite doodle until May 10. Google will announce the five national finalists, one per grade, at a May 22 awards ceremony in Manhattan, which all state winners will be invited to.
The winner’s doodle will be displayed on Google’s homepage on May 23, and they will also win a $30,000 college scholarship, $50,000 technology grant for their school, a Google Chromebook, Wacom digital design tablet and T-shirts printed with their doodle.
At the end of the assembly, which also introduced fourth graders to Google Chrome, Maps and its World Wonders project, a flood of students ran up to see Audrey’s artwork.
Her art teacher of three years, Tracy Kozloff, described her as talented, but humble.
“She’s a phenomenal young artist,” Kozloff said. “She’s obviously a natural talent. I let her do what other children do in class and she pulls out exceptional work. She deserves this.”
Audrey is a Kidsay staff artist and she has been drawing for Kidsday for two years.