CASTRO VALLEY — Wednesday was one of the best days of Grace Moon's life, and it wasn't even her birthday or a straight-A report card day.
The 12-year-old Canyon Middle School sixth-grader learned she had created the winning Google "doodle" — the drawings designed on, around and through the Google logo on the Web site's home page — out of more than 16,000 national student entries.
"Up in the Clouds," the slight, shy girl's idyllic design of sea, sky and land, graced Google's home page all day Thursday. A bright orange sun formed the second "o" in Google.
And Grace was in the clouds, too, wearing a T-shirt bearing her winning doodle as she accepted congratulations from excited students, teachers and staffers at the school.
She was overwhelmed that millions of Internet viewers were looking at her red, green, orange, purple and blue design that day.
"It still hasn't gotten to me," she said mid-afternoon, gazing at Canyon Middle School Principal Mark Croghan's computer screen.
"You are a total rock star," Groghan told Grace. "And you are taking your school along with you."
Grace, who is a straight-A student, also won a $10,000 college scholarship and a laptop computer. In addition, Google will present Canyon with a $25,000 grant for computer lab equipment.
Croghan called Grace's entry "an eloquent combination of art and language arts."
The theme of the contest was "What If ... ," Grace said the inspiration for her watercolor and poster design came from violence, disaster and discrimination in the news.
"I thought I would like to create an ideal place, a place that is always joyful, with all of that gone," she explained.
She wrote a short essay to accompany the artwork:
" 'Up in the Clouds' expresses a world in the sky. This new world is clean and fresh, and people are social and enlightened. Every person here is treated as family, no matter who they are. The bright sun heats this ideal place with warmth, love, and brightens everyone's day."
The Google competition was open to kindergartners through 12th-grade students nationwide. Diane De Young, Grace's former art teacher, suggested that Grace enter the competition. Grace learned earlier this spring that a panel of judges had selected her as one of 40 regional winners.
Google viewers cast ballots for four national finalists, and Google chose Grace as the national winner.
Grace, an only child, traveled with her parents Jin and Kay to the "Googleplex," the company's Mountain View headquarters, on Tuesday.
Her selection as a national finalist was announced that day, and her big win was revealed Wednesday.
Math, science and physical education are Grace's favorite subjects, although she said she hopes to pursue some form of art as a career. She also plays piano and flute, enjoys tennis, and swims competitively each summer.
Reach Karen Holzmeister at 510-293-2478 or firstname.lastname@example.org.