Homework assignment could net Columbia Falls woman a $30,000 college scholarship

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    Raychel Hoerner was the Montana winner of the 2019 Doodle Google Contest with her image depicting the theme of “When I grow up, I want to see conservation of land.” (Photo illustration by Jeremy Weber)

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    Raychel Hoerner was the Montana winner of the 2019 Doodle Google Contest with her image depicting the theme of “When I grow up, I want to see conservation of land.” (Photo illustration by Jeremy Weber)

What started out as an assignment in a high school art class could turn into a $30,000 scholarship for one Columbia Falls student.

Raychel Hoerner, who graduated from Columbia Falls High School Saturday, was recently named Montana’s winner in the 11th annual Doodle for Google competition and is now eligible for the national grand prize of a $30,000 scholarship to the school of her choice as well as a $50,000 technology package toward the establishment or improvement of a computer lab or technology program for her high school.

Art teacher Kate Daniels challenged her pottery class with an assignment following the contests guidelines, where students K-12 must incorporate the Google logo into an image following this year’s theme of “When I grow up, I hope...”

For her project, Hoerner explored her theme of how she would like to see more conservation of land with an image of a ram, the West Tunnel and the mountains of Glacier National Park.

“I am really big on wildlife and all kids of conservation. It’s something that I am aware of and concerned about,” she said. “I just started messing around with it and the ram just fit into the Google logo perfectly. Then I incorporated the park into it.”

Hoerner created the image using mostly acrylic paint and few other things she had laying around her room and admits it didn’t very long to paint.

“I was kind of procrastinating with my homework assignment, so I got it done in about 30 minutes so I could turn it in the next day,” she said.

Quick effort or not, Hoerner was pleased with the image and decided to enter it in Google’s contest, which was not a stipulation of the assignment.

“Submitting it was easy to do and I figured, why not do it,” she said. “I didn’t expect a whole lot to come from it, but there is always a chance, right? When I found out I had won it was certainly exciting. I was thrilled to find out I had actually won something with my artwork. It was a big surprise.”

Hoerner was chosen as the Montana winner by a panel of judges that included 2018 National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning, “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon and Kermit the Frog and joins winners from the 49 other states as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

Five national finalists will be selected from the state and territory winners. A portion of the judging at this level will come via public votes cast at http://www.google.com/doodle4google/vote.html between June 3 and 7. At the completion of the public voting period, a panel of Google doodler artists along with guest judges will consider the amount of votes that each of the 53 state and territory winners received, as well as the criteria and then give each one a score with one finalist coming from each of the competition’s age groups (Hoerner was in a group for grades 10-12).

Another group of Google judges will then pick a national winner, who will have their artwork featured on Google’s homepage for a day.

The national winner will also receive a trip to Google’s headquarters in San Francisco, along with a Chromebook and an Android tablet. National finalists receive a $5,000 college scholarship, a trip to Google’s headquarters, a Chromebook and an Android tablet.

As a state and territory winner, Hoerner has already received a T-shirt with her artwork on it, a tote bag and an Android Tablet.

While Hoerner has always enjoyed art, she plans to attend Montana Tech in Butte this fall to pursue a degree in civil engineering.

“Art has always been a hobby of mine and I took classes because the are fun, but I didn’t every expect it to get me anything,” she said.

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