When the students at North Elementary School in Morgantown were called to a surprise assembly Thursday morning, they had no idea that one of them - a second grade student named Tarannom Rajaee - had won the statewide Doodle 4 Google contest.
The annual competition challenges grade-school students nationwide to design a doodle, or a fun take of the Google logo. This year’s contest theme was “What I see for the future.” Tarannom's doodle depicts life on Mars.
"It's unexplored," she said. "People can go on Mars and do new discoveries to learn more about Mars and see if once Mars had water or a breathable atmosphere, something."
Google notified Tarannom's parents and her school more than a month ago - but instructed them to keep it a secret from Tarannom until the assembly, where Senator Shelly Moore Capito and two employees from Google announced her success.
"It was hard for us to keep this secret, but we tried until today," said Mehdi Rajaee, Tarannom's father. "We just (stood) outside of the gym, just looking for Tarannom, because if she saw us she would figure out what was going on. It’s kind of hard."
Tarannom’s mother Zahra Abbasi said she was proud of Tarannom and not at all surprised that her daughter has talent. In fact, Abbasi said Tarannom can create art even better than what she drew for Google.
"I know she could do better than this. She uses (her) imagination very well," Abbasi said. "She is (talented)."
As the statewide winner, Tarannom won a tablet computer and a t-shirt featuring her design. Her doodle will now compete at the national level. The national winner is selected partially by a public vote, and the winning doodle will be featured on google.com for one day.