East Harlem school makes the cut in Vans shoe art contest

Students at Central Park East High School in East Harlem put a colorful spin to Vans shoes and made it into the top 50 of Vans' 10th annual shoe customization contest.

"Vans every year, they send out 500 shoes to 500 different high schools and they want to see what cool designs we can come up with," art teacher Domenic DiFiglia said.

"When he told us there were 500 other schools, I thought there was a small chance we would make it," ninth-grader Alan Mateo said. "When we found out that we did, it was mind-blowing."

Central Park East is the only school in the entire state to make the cut in this nationwide competition, which aims to inspire creativity and self-expression through the arts.

"Some students who are really good sketch artists, so they handled that. Other students were really good at sculpting things," DiFiglia said. "So they all had some kind of part."

For eight weeks, students worked on the project every morning before school began. Local flavor was the contest theme.

"It's not just a shoe. It's not just a blank slate," ninth-grader Brianna Gjongecha said. "It's all the work we put in."

Central Park East High School is home to the Graffiti Hall of Fame, which has been here since the 1980s and inspired the 'Off the Wall' design on the Vans.

"They are a skateboarding company so we wanted to incorporate a man jumping off the wall," Viulka De Jesus Cruz said.

The grand prize of $75,000 will be awarded to the winning school's art program next month. The experience alone has motivated students.

"I like art, I like drawing, I like doing creative stuff," 11th grader Kevin De Leon said. "Maybe I could make this work into something else in the future."

You can participate in the public online voting through Friday by going to customculture.vans.com.