BLACKFOOT — Two Blackfoot High School students have advanced into the Top 50 of the Vans Custom Culture Contest and you can help them bring home a prize!
The contest was created by Vans Shoes company to encourage high school students to unleash their creativity, while also spotlighting the issue of dwindling art education budgets. The grand prize-winning school gets $50,000 for its art department budget and four runners-up schools will bag $15,000 apiece.
The Vans Custom Culture Contest contest opened with 5,000 schools from all across the nation participating but has been whittled down to just 50 finalists. Public voting, which will determine the five finalists, is currently open through May 7. The Top 5 and winners will be announced May 17 – 21. Click Here to vote.
“Vans has done this competition for twelve years and every year they select two categories for students to design their shows off of,” BHS art teacher Samantha Lima told EastIdahoNews.com. “This year, their two categories or themes were to design one pair of shoes that went with ‘Hometown Pride’ and another set of shoes designed off the theme ‘Head in the Clouds’ or whatever your hope for the future is.”
The students kept these themes in mind as they created their designs. First, Vans sent the school a digital template, which was printed out and distributed for students to design graphics on using colored pencils. Those designs were applied to shoes Vans sent out to the schools, then those shoes were photographed and sent back into Vans.
Lima also had to create an impact document detailing how winning the prize money would impact the students, school and community. From there, an internal panel selected the BHS team’s design as one of the Top 50.
Kenessa Diaz and Emmie Henderson
The shoes BHS entered into the contest were designed by Emmie Henderson and Kenessa Diaz. Henderson designed the “Hometown Pride” shoes, basing them on Yellowstone. Diaz designed her shoes to increase awareness about an issue that holds great importance to her.
“It’s more of a movement to spread awareness about missing and murdered indigenous women,” Diaz said. “Indigenous women are more likely to be kidnapped and stolen but they’re less likely to be reported and found.”
Beyond spreading awareness and bringing in needed funding, the Custom Culture contest benefits the artists in other, less obvious ways.
“It’s definitely an opportunity for the students to get their artwork beyond just their local community,” Lima said. “It puts their artwork out there and shows them a little bit more of how artists work in the real world.”
Henderson said participating in the contest helped her develop better time management skills.
“If you ask anyone that I am close to, they’ll immediately tell you that I am awful when it comes to time management and getting projects done,” Henderson said. “A lot of people would be making fun of me because I’d be sitting in class complaining that I didn’t want to finish the shoes because I was worried they weren’t going to turn out as good as I wanted them to. But I’ve had a lot of support from a lot of our students. I’ve had a ton of support from teachers and close friends that forced me to continue and finish the shoes.”
To see the shoes created by the Blackfoot High School students, as well as the other schools in the Top 50, visit the Vans Custom Culture website. You can vote through May 7.
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