By Sharon Harper, Executive Director of Southeast Center of Regional Excellence
I could feel the excitement in the air as I walked through the doors of Dayton City School in early February. Students, educators, parents, school board members, and other officials were visibly eager to greet our visitors from California. Google sent two representatives to Dayton, TN to share the news that one of their students had been chosen as a finalist in the “Doodle for Google” competition, an annual art contest open to students in grades K-12. One student from Dayton City School was about to become the Tennessee winner and move on to the national round with the possibility of winning a Chromebook, a $30,000 college scholarship, and a $50,000 Google for Education grant for his or her school.
Aidan McRorie, a third grade student, was announced as the Tennessee winner for her illustration of a pet rescue shelter with the Google logo on the front window. Her artwork was revealed to the audience on a large canvas and two projection screens. Letters from U.S. Senator Bob Corker and Congressman Scott Desjarlais were read congratulating Aidan on her accomplishment. Danielle Brown from the Tennessee Art Council attended to share in the exciting news. Everyone there was proud of Aidan, but no one more than her parents and grandparents who beamed with joy during the program.
When asked why she chose this topic for her picture, Aidan said that the picture depicts her in the future. After college, she wants to own her own pet rescue shelter because “not all animals live in a house, so my shelter would give wild animals food and a safe place to grow.”
Since the competition’s inception in 2008, students at Dayton City School have been encouraged by their art teacher, Nela Swiney, to create doodles . “We have had a state finalist, seven out of eight years, and now three state winners. I know this is possible due to the quality of teaching at Dayton City School and students’ willingness to create new ideas.”
Students in the crowd were asked to stand if they had been part of the “Doodle for Google” competition, and I was amazed to see well over 100 students standing. Previous “Doodle for Google” winning creations, both state finalists and winners, were displayed along the walls of the gymnasium, showing just how talented the art students are at Dayton City School.
“Google Pet Rescue” by Aidan was chosen as the state winner by national judges based on the following criteria: artistic merit, creativity, and theme communication. Once selected as a state finalist, her artwork was displayed in an online gallery on the “Doodle for Google” site for voting by the public.
Though Aidan did not go on to win the national competition, all of us at the Tennessee Department of Education and the Southeast Region are proud of her. Congratulations to her on a beautiful piece of art and we cannot wait to see where her artwork ends up next!