Friendswood High School is hoping four pairs of decorated shoes will get the campus art department $50,000. So far, it could happen, but the end results will “take a village.”

Communities in Galveston County are being asked to vote for the high school in the Vans Custom Culture art competition. In its fifth year, the art competition inspires high school students across the United States to embrace their creativity and draws attention to the importance of art as an integral part of our schools’ focus in the face of shrinking budgets.

Last year, FHS was one of the final five schools and the artists and two art teachers received an all-expenses paid trip to New York City, where they came in second place. This year, the two teachers, Mandy Harris and Mary Wise, hope to win the big prize, $50,000 for the art department.

To enter, FHS was one of the first 2,000 U.S.-based public or private high schools to register for Vans Custom Culture. The art department received four pairs of Vans shoes (106, Sk8-Hi, Slip On and Authentic) to customize.

Each pair has been customized to represent one of four themes: Action sports (defined as boards and bikes, not stick and ball), music, art and local flavor (inspired by the surrounding community, city or state). The artists had one theme per pair to create. For local flavor, the FHS artists used space travel and Houston.

Photo submissions are made online via the Vans Custom Culture website after which an internal selection and external public vote will whittle the entries down to a group of five finalists who will travel to New York City for the Vans Custom Culture Final Event.

The five schools as determined by online voting will be contacted on May 12 to confirm an all-expenses paid, three-day trip, including a star-studded event to crown the contest winner.

The grand prize winner will receive a $50,000 donation to their art program and the four runners-up will each receive $4,000 prizes for their programs, too.

Vans’ partner, Journeys, will also award prize money to the school with the best local flavor-themed shoe in the amount of a $10,000 donation to that school’s art program.

“Out of 2,000 schools in the nation, we have just advanced into the top 50 and have a chance to win funding and a trip to New York for our students,” Wise said. “We’re the only school in the Houston and surrounding areas that is competing in the Southwest region. The semifinals are based on online voting and we are asking all local school districts in our area to support us by getting online and voting.”

Go to www.votefhs vans.com to vote and check out the contest and the five areas of the country’s finalists.

The contest only allows one vote per IP address. Schools, public libraries and businesses often share the same IP address. Vote from a smartphone or a computer using a different Internet connection and thank you.

Karolyn Gephart is director of communications for Friendswood ISD.

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