The gymnasium at Carl Albert Middle School was filled with students and gadgets Tuesday when Google marketing executives introduced seventh-grader Tanner McAfee as Oklahoma’s winner of the websites design contest, Doodle 4 Google.
I took a quick jaunt over to exotic Oklahoma City earlier this week. What?! I know, kind of random, right? See, Google runs a competition each year, called Doodle 4 Google, where students K-12 in the US redesign the Google logo with the theme, “If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place…” A panel of judges decides on 50 finalists, 1 from each state, and each state winner is announced by Googlers at an assembly at his or her school.
That brings me to Oklahoma! I flew out to announce the state winner, Tanner McAfee, an awesome and obviously talented 7th grader whose drawing was chosen as the best in the state. The mayor and State senator were both there to congratulate him in front of nearly 1,000 students — who donned Google shirts with Tanner’s Doodle design — and teachers, along with his proud parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
It was scary at first (public speaking! 1,000 people! political figures! press!) but ultimately exhilarating and really, really amazing. You should’ve seen how proud Tanner’s art teacher, parents, grandfather and art teacher were. It really threw me back into the days of Germantown Friends School and reminded me of my love for education (and made me think so vividly about what a great assembly my Grandad would’ve thrown if a Lancaster Country Day kid had won).