Prize money goes to school's art program

by: SUBMITTED - Students and adults enjoy their adventures in New York for the Vans contest. From left, back row, are: Shannon McBride, Stacey Strovink, Kelsey Walker, Kevin Mertz, Leah Shearer, Keaton Weil, Molly Zananovich and Principal Jennifer Schiele; middle row: Emma Waibel, Janie Rottocci, Elizabeth Hill, Alexx OBoyle, Orian Raviv, Bridget Delaney, Vincent Chia and Noelle Foden-Vencil; and first row: Kate Kamerman, Megan Johansen, Nicole Humphreys, McKenna Moore, Haley Bowman, Karalyn Gee and Justin Georges.Twenty Lakeridge High School art students’ creativity and hard work will open doors for their classmates and enhance curriculum in the school’s fine arts department.

Students earned a $50,000 first-place prize for their school in the fourth annual Vans Custom Culture art contest, triumphing over more than 1,400 schools nationwide. Lakeridge is the first school in Oregon to nab the grand prize in the Vans apparel and shoe company’s competition.

“We didn’t think we were going to win,” Lakeridge art teacher Shannon McBride said.

To enter, students were asked to employ their imaginations to customize four sets of white canvas Vans shoes.

An expert panel of judges announced they’d chosen Lakeridge’s Vans shoe designs during a ceremony last week at Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. The Lakeridge artists and other finalists learned the news SUBMITTED - Lakeridge High School students designed Vans shoes in four categories: art, action sports, music and local flavor.

“The moment we heard that we won $50,000, the moment our school’s name was called, it was completely surreal,” said McKenna Moore, an incoming Lakeridge senior. “Mrs. McBride was crying. The students were crying. It wasn’t even about the money. It was about coming together and doing something for the art program.”

Fresh Lakeridge graduate Kevin Mertz, one of the school’s 20 Vans artists, said tasting Big Apple culture with classmates was an amazing experience.

“For me, it was really a fun way to end the year,” said Mertz, 18.

McBride said she plans to use the Vans dollars to establish a Macintosh computer lab. The computers will create opportunities for new curriculum for music, theater and art classes and would feature Adobe Suite, which includes graphic and web design and video and photo editing software.

“I think that’s an amazing thing for our art program to do because I think so many of our students go into graphic design,” said Moore, 17.

Other prize funds will be invested in an account, which will accrue interest and be tapped for student scholarships to summer art camps. The winnings also will pay for art supplies, including a BeDazzler, a device used to attach rhinestones and other bling — students want to make the Macs sparkle, McBride said.

Each participating school was asked to design Vans sneakers in the categories of art, music, action sports and local flavor. For local flavor, the students shaped the Vans into dragon boats. They made the shoes into Mount Hood to represent snowboarding for the action sports category, ripped apart the soles and cloth to create a sculpture for the art category and, for music, pierced the tongues of the Vans.

There was a record 1,458 schools from all 50 states that registered for the contest, said Scott Byrer, Vans brand marketing manager.

Lakeridge students found out this spring that their designs had landed them in the top 10 of the Northwest region.

“It was abundantly clear that these students worked incredibly hard and utilized their immense talents and quality leadership to come out on top,” Byrer said.

To get to the finals, a school needs to land the most online votes for its design, and the number of online votes is not disclosed, Byrer said.

As finalists, the Pacer art students received an all-expenses paid trip to New York to attend the awards ceremony. If they hadn’t won, they would have received a $4,000 runner-up prize.

A team of four students along with a Vans design team will re-fashion Lakeridge’s local flavor and action sports designs, which had some three-dimensional features, into a mass-produced product. They will be available to purchase online and in stores next spring.

“I think it’s going to be cool for the kids when they see those shoes available online, or when they see anyone wearing them,” Mertz said.

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