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Students' shoe design makes contest semifinals

    WATKINS GLEN—Just by decorating four pairs of Vans shoes, nine Watkins Glen students are semifinalists in a national design competition with a $50,000 grand prize.
    Art teacher Elaine Wojtus explained the students spent about a month (two weeks designing and two weeks decorating) the four pairs of blank shoes for the Vans Custom Culture competition. She explained the students had to decorate each shoe using a theme: music, extreme sports, art, and local flavor.
    Wojtus said there are 50 schools in this round of the competition. Voting, which ends, Thursday, May 3, is based on different regions. Watkins is one of 10 schools in the northeast. As of last Friday, the Watkins entries were trailing the lead in second. Anyone can vote once a day by visiting
    After the May 3 deadline, the school from each region with the most votes gets to travel to Los Angeles for the final event in May. The grand prize winning team will receive $50,000. Runners-up will receive $4,000 for their school.
    All nine students worked on the art shoe, and then worked on the other three shoes in groups. Wojtus explained the students painted a film reel on the art shoe and each person painted an image on each section of the film.
    The local flavor design features Seneca Lake and the pavilion on the Watkins Glen pier. A racecar is also painted on the shoe. In place of regular laces, the students used dried grape vines as well.
    The music shoe’s theme incorporates a guitar, recreating the guitar neck complete with strings and retainers. On the sports shoe, the students painted the silhouettes of skiers, skateboarders, motocross rider, etc. Student Lydia Bievier said they used mostly action sports.
    “It’s good experience to have,” said Bievier.
“It was unreal to do,” said student Erika Rhodes. “Finding out people are voting is even more unreal. It’s a shock because we’re a little town.”
    Rhodes added winning the contest would be helpful because of all the recent cuts to staff at Watkins Glen. She said, “art is what I do,” so she doesn’t want to see the arts program see any reductions.
    Other students who participated were Brandi Crissinger, Meredith Johnson, Chanda Brown, Kim Morris, Mara Brisbois, Courtney Tuttle and Elena Likoudis.
    “We’re up against some pretty big schools,” said Principal David Warren. “It’s an amazing opportunity for a group of students from a small school like ours.”




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