The only thing I ever remember waiting for me when I got off the school bus was a bunch of after-school chores that needed to be done before parents came home from work. So Athena Starin definitely has me beat when it comes to the coolest surprises category. When she got off the bus last week there was a group of people waiting to give her some pretty awesome news.

Athena is a fourth grader at Rattlesnake Elementary and the welcoming party outside of her house was there to congratulate her on being the Montana winner of Google's annual Doodle for Google contest. You know the Google Doodle.....the images on the Google website right above the search bar that are always changing and usually spell out Google! Friends, family, teachers, and Google representatives were all waiting to share the good news - that of the five age groups where students could enter - Athena was chosen as the lone winner for Montana!

It's a pretty cool accomplishment but the contest doesn't end with a bus stop celebration. Now it's to the point where online voting will determine the five Doodles that will compete in the final stage to be the featured work of art on Google's homepage. Online voting is open through Friday (5/14) and you'll see the link to vote right on the front of Google.com. I've made it nice and easy for you to place a vote for Athena in the contest by clicking on THIS LINK. (Just click on the grades 4-5 page.)

I saw a Facebook post from Athena's mom where she shares some pretty emotional and heartwarming thoughts about her daughter and some of the challenges - like dyslexia and anxiety - she overcomes to do her best in school.

Let's get Athena pushed through to the next round! Of the five Doodles selected to move on - the four finalists that don't win will receive $5,000 college scholarships and the winner of the contest scores a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology package for their school or nonprofit. If we get votes coming in  - maybe we can all be part of the next surprise party when she steps off the bus!

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