Hip, cutting-edge shoe designs created by Pickerington High School Central students could earn their school $50,000 for arts programming.
Vans Custom Culture recently named PHS Central one of the Top 50 entrants in an annual high school competition to design sneakers for the company.
Through May 12, the public can vote for their favorite designs among the Top 50, at www.vans.com/customculture.
The top five vote-getters will receive $4,000 for school arts funding and be invited to New York City.
There, one school will be selected by the shoe company to win its grand prize, which this year is $50,000 to support that school's art programs.
"This is our fifth year for the competition," said Sarah Crockett, Vans Custom Culture vice president of global consumer marketing.
"We have an internal committee at Vans," Crockett said. "They pulled the best from each region together and we voted companywide.
"The amount of detail (Central) brought into their designs was really impressive," she said. "You could tell the students know Vans brand."
Central was selected as a finalist in the Northeast region. All voting for the competition is done online.
According to Central art teacher Matt Young, students in grades 9-12 in each of Central's art classes were invited to provide input for sneaker designs.
The competition called for four different sneaker designs. Respectively, the students were asked to come up with themes incorporating music, sports, art and "local flavor."
After receiving input, Young said, four students in his AP Advanced art class took ideas and ran with them.
Brooke Stanley, a junior, and seniors Leah Krueger, Eliza Lange and Morgan Ulloua first created shoes on paper, before then using fabric paint and markers to apply their designs to actual Vans sneakers.
"We only had two weeks to do it, and those girls were kind of the team leaders," Young said.
"I have a whole AP Advanced class and they're all girls this year.
"In this group, they're all super hard workers. They put in a lot of their own time over spring break to get these things finished."
The Central students' designs were selected for the Top 50 from an initial pool of 2,000 entrants.
Their creations can be seen, along with those from other candidates, on the Vans website where voting occurs.
Young said the sneakers incorporating music include references and designs to the Vans Warped Tour, and the sports entry includes skateboarding and surfing images.
The "local flavor" shoe has elements invoking fossils found in the Pickerington area and the Serpent Mound, and the "art" entry is a pair of high-tops featuring zombies.
"The competition generally is focused on creativity," Crockett said. "It's promoting self-expression, which is something we're very passionate about at Vans.
"We want them to know art and creativity is a very valuable skill, and we want to help balance out the lack of art funding that seems to be going on at schools across the country," she said.
Through a partnership with Vans, Krueger, Lange, Stanley and Ulloua also have been challenged to design a skateboard deck for a chance to win their school $10,000 in arts funding through The Truth, an anti-smoking education campaign.
"We have two weeks to design a skateboard with a chance to win $10,000, and get a trip to New York City," Young said.