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Young Utahn’s Google Doodle with positive message advances to national competition

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Posted at 5:26 PM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-17 19:26:27-05

PROVO, Utah — Doodling is serious business now. It’s become a money-maker for students who enter in to the Google Doodle contest.

The national winner can earn a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 educational grant for his or her school, plus several other prizes from Google Doodle.

This year, a 12-year-old boy from Provo named Kalo Jo beat out thousands of entries from Utah and won for the Beehive State.

“It was like shocking, like a wave of emotions,” said Kalo Jo. “You’re shocked and happy.”

Jo is a seventh grader at Freedom Preparatory Academy. He said it was his mother, Yousun Hwang, who encouraged him to enter the Google Doodle contest. Even though she said he is a happy, positive boy all the time, she learned that he didn’t always feel that way.

“He said, ‘I can do that, oh I have these talents. But sometime people think that I can’t,’” Hwang said.

The theme of this year’s Google Doodle contest is “What makes me, me?”

“I thought about it for like two weeks,” Jo said. “I love a lot of things, like anime, music, school, volleyball.”

He tried to explain how he felt inside, in his artwork.

“What I wrote, what my intention was, don’t judge from the outside,” he said. “Well, I also got that from an anime. But I like that saying. Don’t judge people from the outside and you really got to look into a person to actually know what their personality is.”

So he took all the things he likes to do and drew them into the Google letters, and, of course, included what he looked like on the outside.

“I combined all of them and created this nerdish idea!” Jo said.

His school’s principal, Buddy Ivie, appreciated everything Jo did.

“We have seen for a while the abilities and talents he has, even if it’s just sketches on a notebook, but for the world to get to see that is really exciting,” Ivie said.

Ivie said his school is a “Leader in Me school.” It’s a program where students are encouraged to take on new responsibilities and opportunities to be future leaders.

“His recognition is really cool, it’s a confirmation that we as teachers are getting through to these children, our message of positive leadership,” Ivie said. “It’s like he took years and years of learning and summed it up into one drawing, there are, well, no words really!”

If Jo wins, it means more prizes for his school. But for already winning among Utahns, he received a tablet from Google and a school assembly that recognized his big win. The school also received dozens of new basketball hoops and soccer nets, because their goals haven’t had any nets.

“We hope everybody in Utah goes and votes and brings it home for one of our own,” Ivie said.

You can vote for Kalo Jo by clicking here.