Olathe & Southwest Joco

Olathe student is Kansas winner of Doodle 4 Google competition

When Brendan Porter set out to make a doodle for Google, he wanted to make it bright and colorful.

Like, well, Google does with its logo.

“But I also wanted to convey my fondness for nature and going places that I’ve never been to,” he said. “My favorite day ever would be doing stuff I could never do again. Colorful sea animals seemed to get that message pretty well.”

On Wednesday, Porter, a senior at Olathe North High School, was named the Kansas winner for his underwater themed doodle in the Doodle 4 Google competition. He was honored during a class assembly. The Missouri winner is from Chesterfield, near St. Louis.

Brendan was one of more than 130,000 students across the nation who submitted entries this year based around the theme of “My Best Day Ever . . . .”

“It was a total shot in the dark,” Brendan said. “I didn’t expect anything to come of this.”

His favorite part of his doodle is the turtles, which, he said, he never had much luck drawing before.

Although it is an underwater scene, he said it’s almost a flying scene.

“Turtles can just move like no other underwater,” he said. “They got a certain freedom underwater that they can’t get above ground. I feel that at times, too.”

That’s what he said he was trying to express — a freedom that he can’t get in Kansas.

His artwork will displayed with the other 49 state winners in a special exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

It will compete to become a national finalist and possibly the national winner, which Google will display on its homepage on May 23. The artist also will receive a $30,00 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology grant for his or her high school.

Public voting to determine the national finalist began Wednesday and will remain open until May 10.

Google will announce the finalists and then select the national winner on May 22 at an awards ceremony in New York City.

All of the state winners will be invited to the awards ceremony.

“It’s just amazing to see all the recognition that they have poured on him with this,” said Shannon Porter, Brendan’s dad. “It’s wonderful. He’s a very deserving young man.”

Porter said his son started drawing at a very young age. He hadn’t seen his son’s work for the Google competition until after it had been submitted.

“I enjoyed seeing how he made ‘Google’ a little hard to see and hard to read,” he said. “It blends into the background.”

Brendan’s art teacher, Hollie Rice, said he is a talented artist.

“I expected nothing less than fantastic,” she said. “It looks awesome.”

At Wednesday’s assembly, banners of past sport championships hung from the rafters above students who cheered for Brendan when he was announced the winner.

“I’m standing in the shadows of hundreds and hundreds of other kids who have done so much more,” Brendan said. “This is my thing. This is my first step. It’s just refreshing.”

Related stories from Kansas City Star