DORSET — Thanks to her artistic talent, Amelie Michalkovic got the surprise of her young life on Wednesday.
The 16-year-old Long Trail School sophomore, a Manchester resident, was named the Vermont state winner of Google’s national high school Google Doodle competition. She’s representing the Green Mountain State in the national contest, and you can vote for her entry at /doodles.google.com/d4g/vote/ between now and May 25.
The public vote will determine five national finalists, (one in each grade group). Google will announce these five national finalists in late May, and one of them will have their Doodle featured on the Google homepage for a day.
If you use the Internet, you probably know that Google’s home page often features a “Google Doodle” — artwork commemorating a famous person’s birthday, or the anniversary of an historic event or achievement. Michalkovic is among 55 finalists representing students in grades 10-12 in 55 states and U.S. territories.
The national winner will win a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 tech package for the winner’s school or non-profit organization, and their artwork displayed for a 24 hours on Google’s home page.
The presentation was made Wednesday morning in front of the student body, during Long Trail’s daily morning meeting. As intended, it came as a total surprise, and her mother, Michelle Michalkovic, and uncle, Michael Lawrie, were in attendance. “We snuck them into the light booth,” Igoe admitted.
Amelie, who previously lived in Switzerland, said she “just about died” when she saw her framed artwork revealed as the winning entry and heard her name called.
“[Head of School Colin Igoe] got up on stage and made a bit of a speech. He said the winner was right in this room,” Amelie said. “So I’m looking around seeing who’s going to win ... and my friends all had smirks on their faces. They all knew.”
How did it feel to walk up on stage in front of the student body and be recognized?
“I felt so loved and when I walked up everyone was tearing up,” she said of the experience. “I felt really proud that I was being recognized for doing what I love.”
Amelie’s Google Doodle uses a collection of animals to spell out the word “Google” against a lush backdrop of flowers, plants and trees. It’s titled “Our World,” and here’s her artist statement:
“I drew this piece to represent how grateful I am for the beauty in our world. I feel like whenever I’m sad I can go outdoors and see that there is more to my life than whatever I’m going through. I’m so grateful that the world we live in is filled with tranquility to contradict our day-to-day struggles.”
Amelie has loved art and drawing for as long as she can remember. She has resisted choosing a favorite medium or style — whether it’s jewelry, pottery or visual art, “I like the idea of keeping my options open,” she said. But whenever there’s something she wants to create, “I will throw myself at the opportunity.”
Igoe said Long Trail visual arts teacher Lena Warner brought the contest to students’ attention, and encouraged them to enter.
“Amelie is very talented and passionate about art,” Igoe said. “It’s a tremendous honor.”
Joining Amelie on stage were her mother and uncle, as well as art teacher Ian Mosher, whom she said has been a mentor to her as well as an instructor.
“Basically I live in Ian’s classroom,” she said, explaining that’s where she does her homework and talks to friends. “He’s such a good person. He’s very much humble and doesn’t like all the attention but he deserves it.”
Amelie said she entered with no expectations of winning. “I thought ‘that’s such a cool prompt. I’m totally going to do that.’” she said. “I love drawing and I loved the idea of drawing something I was grateful for. I was proud of my idea and loved how it came out — but I went in not expecting anything.”
As for her future, Amelie is considering a career as an art therapist. “I love the idea of helping people, and I love the idea of helping people with art,” she said. “Why not put the two together?”