Hedgesville teen one of 40 Google 'doodle' finalists

Alexandra 'Alex' Engelman created a watercolor painting of the logo titled 'Let's Go To Japan'


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A 17-year-old Hedgesville, W.Va., girl is one of 40 "doodle" finalists in a nationwide art contest sponsored by Google, an Internet technology company best known for its online search engine.

Hedgesville High School junior Alexandra "Alex" Engelman's watercolor painting of the "Google" logo titled "Let's Go To Japan" is no simple sketch scrawled in the margin of a notebook.

Alex's entry was selected as the regional finalist for Grade 10-12 in Region 3, which includes Delaware, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. She will travel to New York next week for the announcement of the national winner.

Students entering the contest were invited to create their own Google doodle inspired by the theme, "If I Could Do Anything, I Would ..."


Alex finished the sentence with the words "go to Japan."

"I've always been a big fan of their traditional artwork and I always loved their animation," Alex said.

Her version of the Google logo, which incorporates notable symbols of the Asian nation, was among more than 33,000 entries submitted for the "Doodle 4 Google" competition, according to Google.

Online voting to determine four national finalists in the contest continues through 5 p.m. May 25 at the Doodle 4 Google website at

The national winner will be announced May 26 after all of the regional finalists are flown to New York for an awards ceremony, according to the company. The 2010 national winner will receive a $15,000 college scholarship, a laptop computer, a digital design tablet and a T-shirt with their doodle on it, according to the company. The doodle will be featured on the Google homepage May 27, and the entries of all of the regional winners will be exhibited until July 8, 2010, at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York. The winner's school will receive a $25,000 grant for computer lab enhancements.

"I'm pretty excited, (I've) never really been to New York," said Alex, who has been considering a career in illustration.

Painted with watercolors, Alex's version of the Google logo is spelled with symbols of Japan, beginning with an altered version of the wave in the famous Japanese artwork, The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, to form the first 'G'.

Two sushi rolls are the 'o's, a Japanese dragon takes the shape of the second 'g', a bamboo handle paint brush forms the 'l', and the brush is in the process of painting the 'e'. A red sun, emblematic of the Japanese flag, and Mt. Fuji, the Asian nation's highest mountain, are in the background.

An airplane flying "into" the logo symbolizes Alex's hope to visit Japan one day.

A "big fan" of Japan's traditional artwork and animation, Alex said her entry took a couple days to plan and nearly a week of painting.

Stephanie VanEvera, Alex's art instructor, told students gathered for the announcement in the school's auditorium that Alex was going to be "a giant" in the art world one day.

"She just has the ability to assimilate anything I teach her," said VanEvera. "She has a very creative mind."

A breast cancer awareness entry, "Help Save Women Everywhere," by Washington High School ninth-grader Laurel Shuff, 15, of Charles Town, W.Va., was among 400 state finalists announced Tuesday.

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