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Falmouth student a step away from Google stardom

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Falmouth student a step away from Google stardom

FALMOUTH — A Falmouth Middle School student is a finalist to have his artwork displayed on Google's home page.

Eighth-grader Joseph Han learned at a surprise assembly Wednesday morning that he is one of 50 students, one from every state, selected by Google to move to the next round in its annual Doodle 4 Google contest. The winner receives a $30,000 scholarship and a $50,000 technology grant from Google for the student's school.

More than 130,000 entries were submitted this year for the theme "My Best Day Ever," according to Google spokeswoman Leah Weisberg, who is originally from Falmouth and now works at the corporate headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. 

Han, who turned 14 on Tuesday, is an avid artist and said he is excited to be a finalist.

"I heard about the contest and thought it was a good opportunity for me to show my artwork," he said.

Han's drawing is an outdoor scene inspired by the woods and the Presumpscot River, which runs behind his house. In the drawing, Han is pictured in a corner, looking out into the wilderness with his small, white dog, Otto. Elements in the image spell out G-o-o-g-l-e.

"I was going for more of a light-hearted feel and I feel like playing in the woods is a good feel, especially because I live in Maine," Han said. "With all the outdoors in Maine, I thought it fit."

Han now moves on to the next round, where people will vote online from May 1-10 to select a winner. The voting will determine the five national finalists and eventually one winner, whose winning art will be displayed on the U.S. Google home page for 24 hours.

His drawing can be seen on the Doodle 4 Google website, where people can vote to choose their favorite piece.

Google has displayed more than 1,500 different artworks on its home page, most of which commemorate significant events like anniversaries, birthdays and inventions.

The Internet company is also is flying Han and his dad, Paul Han, to New York City for the announcement of the national finalists at the American Museum of Natural History.

Han's mom, Cindy Han, said her son's enthusiasm for drawing drove him to enter the contest.

"He just draws all the time and when he heard about the contest he got to work," she said.

Han's drawing, which is made from ink and water colors, took about three days to complete, mostly, his mom said, because "he's kind of a perfectionist."

"He likes playing in the woods behind our house along the Presumpscot River trails. Sometimes he draws, sometimes he catches creatures," she said, noting that the family moved to Maine from Maryland a few years ago in part because of the environment.

"This is a clear drawing of his best day ever," she said.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.

Photo: Will Graff / The Forecaster

Falmouth Middle School student Joey Han pulls away a covering to reveal his artwork, Wednesday, May 1, which was selected by Google for its Doodle 4 Google contest.