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Central Valley High School students design Vans sneakers with hopes to win $50,000

UPDATED: Wed., April 26, 2017

A group of Central Valley High School art students have made it to the semifinals of a $50,000 national contest sponsored by iconic skateboard sneaker brand Vans.

It’s the third time Central Valley has entered the contest and the second year in a row the school has made it to the semifinals, one of 50 schools picked from more than 3,000 participants.

Central Valley art teacher Kyle Genther said CV is the only Eastern Washington school that made it this far.

“Now it’s up to the voting,” Genther said.

The school is rallying as many votes as possible before May 10, asking people to go to the Van’s website and vote for Central Valley’s entry.

“Everyone can vote once a day,” Genther said.

The five top finalists will be invited on an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles, where their shoes will be examined by a panel of celebrity judges. Runner-up schools get $4,000, and the final winner makes off with $50,000, all going toward the schools’ art programs.

Sophomore Abby Allen, 15, is part of the design team for the second time.

“This year, it was a little harder to finally settle on the designs we wanted to do, because we had so many ideas,” Allen said.

Vans sends the schools four pairs of white sneakers, which students then have about a month to decorate. Some designs have to be locally themed; others have to be about music.

It’s a collaborative effort – there were 10 students on the team this year – and together they worked through ideas, design and implementation.

One pair of shoes features a moose skull with a pair of headphones hanging over an antler. Sophomore Colby Tate, 16, was the artist behind the design.

“I like to draw bones and I offered to do the moose,” she said. “They took the design.”

The students are in charge of the entire process and must agree along the way.

“You really learn how to work as a team and leave room for other people’s ideas,” said Allen.

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