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Emma McLaughlin, a sophomore at Athens High School, stands next to her entry during an assembly to congratulate her for being named the Ohio statewide winner of the "Doodle 4 Google" contest. McLaughlin will learn whether she is the national winner at a ceremony May 17 in New York City. (Erin Corneliussen | Multimedia Editor)

Athens student a finalist in Doodle 4 Google contest

In a time when academic budget cuts are eliminating art classes in many school systems, an Athens High School sophomore set out to prove that art should still play a role in education.

Athens sophomore Emma McLaughlin was announced as one of the finalists in the Doodle 4 Google competition at a presentation ceremony Wednesday in the Athens High School auditorium.

Of 114,000 submissions from throughout the country, McLaughlin was chosen as one of 50 finalists in the competition, which challenged students to create an animation or drawing based on the theme, “If I could travel in time, I’d visit …”

The finished product is titled “A Googleberg Print” and features a printing press stamping out gothic-inspired letters that form the word Google.

“Googleberg” refers to Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the Gutenberg Press that revolutionized the printing process and allowed the masses access to books.

“The Gutenberg press made words and books easily accessible to a lot of people, and so has Google,” McLaughlin said. “I thought that (Google) would like that.”

If McLaughlin’s doodle is chosen as the winner, it will appear on the Google homepage for 24 hours, she will receive a $30,000 college scholarship and Athens High School will receive $50,000 to go toward a new

computer lab.

McLaughlin will be flown to New York City to find out whether she is the national winner at a May 17 ceremony.

“I’ve never been there before, so I’m excited just to go,” McLaughlin said.

Two Google representatives made the 2,500-mile trek from Googleplex, the company headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to Athens to present McLaughlin with her prize.

The finalists’ prints also will be on display at the Center of Science and Industry museum in Columbus and at the New York City Public Library — which coincidentally has a copy of a Gutenberg Bible, the first book produced on the Gutenberg Press.

“Here’s evidence that (students’) work and their effort shows in their artwork,” said Ellen Gagliano, an Athens High School art teacher. “ (The work) pays off, and they can get their work seen and appreciated.

Gagliano assigned the Doodle 4 Google challenge to her art classes as a required project. Although many students complained about it, Gagliano said McLaughlin took extra time outside class to complete her design.

“She decides she wants to do something, and she really puts the effort in,” said Joe McLaughlin, Emma’s father and an Ohio University English professor and chairman of Faculty Senate.

The winner of the competition is determined by online voting, and McLaughlin is rallying the support of the Athens area to vote for her submission.

Online voting started Tuesday and will close May 10. Voters can go to to vote for her entry.

“Right now she needs to get to the next level,” Gagliano said. “There’s one week of voting, and we need as many people as we can get to go and vote for her.”

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