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Homeschooler is WV finalist in Google contest

Journal image from The Associated Press Ashton Lear’s submission in the Doodle 4 Google contest.
Journal image from The Associated Press
Ashton Lear’s submission in the Doodle 4 Google contest.

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Ashton Lear, a junior homeschooled student, was recently named the winner for West Virginia in the 2015 Doodle 4 Google contest and is now in the running to be one of the five national finalists.

Every year Google holds a scholarship contest for K-12 students across the United States. Ashton said this year’s theme was “What makes me, me.”

“I am really into writing, reading, drawing, art, that kind of stuff, so my final sketch was about that,” Ashton said.

The letters that spelled the word Google were actually cut out of a story Ashton had written and Ashton said she drew inspiration from other stories she has read.

“I love telling stories to my siblings and reading to them. So, I wanted to show myself doing that and then the things that came around me are things from stories that I have made up or read about to my siblings. I love fantasy and things like that,” Ashton said.

This was the first year for the contest that students could turn in any art form. Ashton said she decided to use paper because all the things that she loves and is passionate about are made from paper.

Ashton said her mother, Kirstin, was the one who had originally found the idea for the scholarship. The two had been looking for college scholarships since Ashton will be a senior next school year.

“I am really into art so I was immediately sold on it and thought ‘oh this sounds awesome.’ But, I don’t think that she thought it was going to really go anywhere,” Ashton said.

Last month, Ashton was notified that her entry had won for the state of West Virginia. There were over 100,000 entries submitted and one student from each fifty-three state and territories was chosen.

“We has originally thought it was my PSAT scores but when we opened it up it was a letter from Google and we were like ‘Oh my god!’ We freaked out for like an hour or something,” Ashton laughed.

“We just couldn’t believe it and of course we are just so proud of her. Even though she is a homeschooler she works just as hard as public schoolers and she is very bright and smart,” Ashton’s mother said.

As one of the 53 finalists, Ashton was awarded $500 to donate toward books for an organization of her choice. Ashton’s mother said usually the money would go to the winner’s school but since Ashton is homeschooled she was able to pick where she wanted the money to go to.

Ashton donated the money to the Shepherdstown Public Library to purchase new books.

“She is a really, really big reader so that was so exciting to us to be able to donate to them,” Ashton’s mother said.

“I personally love the Shepherdstown Public Library. Over the summer it was just a place where I could go where I didn’t have to stress about anything. All the librarians were so nice to me and books are sort of my relief from things. So being able to go in and lose myself in a story was kind of amazing. As soon as I found out that I could do this I knew it had to go to the library,” Ashton said.

Google representatives will be travelling to West Virginia Friday to hold a special awards ceremony for Ashton. Her mother said that they have invited family, friends and influential people from Ashton’s life for the ceremony. Members from the library will also be in attendance.

Also on Friday, public voting will begin to chose the five finalists. The national winner will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 Google for Education grant for his or her school, a trip to the Google Headquarters in California to meet the Google Doodlers, a Chromebook, an Android tablet, a t-shirt printed with his or her doodle on it and their doodle displayed on U.S. Google.com’s homepage for one day.

The four national finalists who do not become the national winner will have their doodles featured in the Doodle 4 Google gallery and will receive a $5,000 college scholarship, trip to the Google Headquarters in California to meet the Google Doodlers, an Android tablet and a T-shirt.

The others who do not become national finalists will have their doodles included in the Doodle 4 Google gallery,will receive an Android tablet and a T-shirt.

Voting can be cast at www.google.com/doodle4google.

-Staff writer Katiann Marshall can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 182, or at Twitter.com/KmarshallJN.

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