Commonwealth Journal

May 2, 2013

Southern Middle student finalist in national contest

by Chris Harris
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

Usually, people in Somerset go to when they want a little help. This time, Google came to Somerset.
Savannah Lyle, a seventh-grade student at Southern Middle School, has a chance to see her own hand-created artwork on Google’s home page for a full day — along with a bunch of other nifty prizes, both for her and her school.
Lyle entered the “Doodle4Google” contest, open to students K-12 throughout the U.S. Those entering drew their own “Google Doodle,” similar to the creative, quirky manipulations of the web browsing giant’s logo frequently seen on their homepage. The company has their own artists who do the “doodles” normally, but the contest (now in its sixth year) allows America’s youth to get into the mix.
Best of all? The public will get to vote on which drawing they like best — meaning Pulaski County can turn out full force in Lyles’ favor.
Lyle, 13, is Kentucky’s representative in the field, and her school found this out Wednesday at a special ceremony at Southern Middle. Representatives from Google’s offices in New York showed up for the occasion, fielded questions from students, and presented Lyle’s exquisitely detailed depiction of her “Best Day Ever,” the theme of this year’s contest.
Lyle’s entry was called “Ticket to Ride on a Sunny Day,” illustrating a fun-filled outing at an amusement park. Lyle said she had numerous ideas on how to meet the theme — bringing to life the best day of her life in art form — but was ultimately inspired by her family’s trip to Disney World about a year ago.
“I was looking at the letters (in “Google”) and all of them seemed to fit this theme,” said Lyle. “I thought I could make them into something.”
Lyle got help from the Google visitors unveiling a large portrait of her art for the student body at Southern Middle during the assembly, amid cheers and clapping from her proud peers.
Lyle’s father, Grady, said she learned of the honor a few days ago, and the reaction was “pleasantly surprised” — although it was no shock that Lyle had artistic talent.
“We’re very proud of her,” he said. “Of course, she does a lot of doodling at the house, drawing and coloring Of course, we always think it’s good, but most parents think their kids’ stuff is good. It’s nice for it to get recognized in this way.
“She’s had to keep (the news) under wraps for the last week, which is kind of difficult for a 13-year-old,” he added.
Lyle’s entry was one of a whopping 130,000 from all around the country. Those were whittled down to a field of 250 state finalists. As a state winner, Lyle will get a trip to New York City for the final awards ceremony on May 22, a t-shirt emblazoned with her own doodle artwork, and be featured in a special exhibit at New York’s American Museum of Natural History.
According to, the doodle drawn by the national winner will be featured on the U.S. Google homepage for 24 hours on May 2, 2013. The overall winner will also get a $30,000 college scholarship, a Google Chromebook, a Wacom digital design tablet, and a t-shirt printed with his or her doodle on it. 
Plus, the winner’s school a $50,000 grant towards the establishment of a computer lab or technology programming.
“I’m very proud of Savannah; she’s a great student and role model for everybody,” said Troy Dotson, principal at Southern Middle. “(The money for the school) would be an added bonus for us, but we’re just so proud of her and hope she wins this scholarship. That would be awesome for her.”
Google representative Debra LoCastro was excited to make the trip, her first time in Kentucky, joining friend and Google colleague Ashley, a Louisville native.
“We love it! It’s been so fun for me,” she said. “What a week! It’s Derby week. It’s a pleasure for us to come out here and connect with some of our younger users.”
LoCastro noted that “a lot of people” were judging the contest’s largest-ever field — including celebrities like journalist Katie Couric, Olympic gymnast and “Dancing With the Stars” contest Aly Raisman, and drummer for The Roots Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson — and clearly saw something special in Lyle’s entry.
“I think Savannah was chosen because of her obvious artistic talent,” said LoCastro, “but also the way she was able to convey her best day ever. It was very clear and in line with the theme that Google put forth.”
Though Lyle is clearly a skilled artist, she’s also into other visual fields, with an interest in fashion design. Additionally, she’s skilled at the writing art of calligraphy, according to her parents. Still, when asked if she’d like to be an artist when she grows up, Lyle replied, “Yeah, sure!”
Regarding the whole experience, Lyle added, “I’m very excited. It’s been awesome. I was, like, ecstatic (after learning of the honor). My mom went crazy about it. She was jumping up and down and stuff.”
 To vote for Lyle to win, go to and click the “Voting” header, then go to the “6-7” category among the grade groups. Lyle will be listed under “Savannah L., KY.” You can vote one time per account for each grade group. Voting goes until May 10 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.