Chloe Greene hopped out of bed on the morning of Aug. 15 for a family photo. Her father and stepmother told her and her five siblings to dress nicely the night before.
When she walked downstairs, the 15-year-old Buchholz High School sophomore was met with a surprise. An unfamiliar woman stood in the doorway with rainbow balloons floating above her head and a Google Home and Chromebook tablet in her hands.
Chloe said she turned toward her parents, confused. It wasn’t her birthday, she told them. Instead, she’d been selected as a 2020 Doodle for Google state finalist.
“I think she was pretty stunned. She was definitely surprised and a little bit confused,” said her stepmother, Lisa Greene.
Chloe was selected as Florida’s 2020 Doodle for Google winner, along with 53 other students from each U.S. state and territory, said Alachua County Public Schools spokesperson Jackie Johnson. Anyone in the U.S. can vote for Chloe’s doodle until Aug. 21 at 11:59 p.m. Five finalists will advance to the final round in which the public will vote again.
The final winner will receive a $30,000 scholarship, and their high school will receive $50,000 worth of new technology.
Chloe told The Alligator that her artwork, “Helping Hands,” shows the power of collaboration and kindness.
“It's important that when you show kindness that you do it through the collaboration of so many different people, so you can get the biggest effect by getting the most people involved,” she said.
In her written submission, Chloe pointed out that the second g in her Google design, pink and cursive, stood for the women’s rights movement. She also wrote that she shows kindness by working hand-in-hand with community members, especially through her stepmother’s feminine product and food drives, no matter the differences among them or the varying ways they express their philanthropic efforts.
The Gainesville community has rallied behind Chloe through social media to encourage others to vote for her artwork, Johnson said. While ACPS hopes she will make it to the next round, Johnson said she has already made Alachua County proud.
“It would absolutely be amazing because when you think about the fact that there are 5.8 million people who log on to Google every day, that is an amazing amount of exposure for one of our students, and something we’ll be very proud of if it ends up happening for her,” Johnson said. “But of course, we're already proud that she has made it this far.”
While Chloe voted for the Doodle for Google in the past, she never entered herself until now, she said.
“I've always voted for it for the past couple years,” Chloe said. “It was really cool to see my own drawing up there.”
Phillip Journey, a 59-year-old art teacher at Buchholz, assigned Google doodles for the students in his Painting 1 class this Spring for the first time.
While Journey said he didn’t expect that one of his students would win, he said Chloe’s illustration and description of the work were exemplary.
“Every judge has their own criteria, so you don't know,” he said. “Did I think her artwork was good enough? Yes, I did, and what she wrote is incredible, and it's truly how she is and how she feels.”
This year’s theme, “I show kindness by...,” was close to Chloe and her family’s heart, Lisa said. She added that Chloe designed the logo for Lisa’s organization, Be the Kind, which aims to build a more inclusive Gainesville through community events and drives, and actively donates her time to helping others.
“That really shines through and Chloe — it’s part of who she is as a person,” she said. “ She has a great heart — it's just something that sort of emanates from her.”
To Lisa, Chloe’s knack for the fine arts revealed itself at a young age.
When Chloe attended Millhopper Montessori School, her Pre-K teacher told her parents that Chloe had artistic talent. A decade-and-a-half later, art is still a significant part of Chloe’s life. In her free time, Chloe watches YouTube videos to improve her work, Lisa added.
After five hours of work over the course of a couple of weeks, the young artist’s doodle dazzled her parents and her art teacher.
“She put a lot of effort into this particular doodle,” Lisa said. “It was actually a school assignment, and as soon as we saw it, we said to her, ‘Chloe, we actually think you might have a good chance of winning this thing.’”
Chloe’s kindness and talent has also had the power to inspire those four times her age — perhaps most notably, the teacher who motivates and supports her.
“It's a great story, all the way around — she's just an incredible student,” Journey said. “She worked at something and she's accomplished, whether she wins it or not. She's just an incredible, smart, creative and kind person, and she is very much like what she wrote.”
Fifteen-year-old Chloe Greene, Florida’s Doodle for Google finalist, was celebrated with two Google prizes and balloons Aug. 15.