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Avella High School is getting a kick out of the results of the Vans 13th annual High School Custom Culture competition.

The high school finished in the top five in the national shoe design contest, earning $15,000 for the school art department.

“We are so excited,” said high school art teacher Jessie Miller. “We’re overwhelmed. The kids have so many plans for what we’re going to do.”

The winner, Moanalua High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, took home the $50,000 top prize.

Vans selected only 250 schools from across the country to participate in the contest, and students were given two pairs of Vans shoes to design. One pair had to reflect hometown pride while the second was based on the four pillars of the Van D(IY)oren Legacy theme: action sports, art, music and street culture.

Schools submitted their designs in early April.

On April 25, Avella was chosen by judges at the shoe company as one of the top 50 competitors. Then, public voting from April 25 until May 5 determined the winners.

Avella was recently notified the district was chosen as one of the five finalists, guaranteeing them $15,000 as runner-up.

In addition to the cash prize, each of the top five schools will receive an artist mentorship lesson from one of Vans’ art ambassadors and a trophy.

All 19 Avella students who helped design the shoes also will receive a pair of their own custom-designed Vans shoes, estimated at about $2,000.

Miller thanked the Avella community, Washington County, and everyone who voted for the school.

She was surprised to learn that neighboring school districts, organizations, and other groups posted information about the contest on Facebook and websites and encouraged people to vote for the small, rural school with 680 students.

“We just had the overwhelming support from the community and everybody who made the effort to vote for us,” said Miller. “I was finding people coming up to me and saying they saw it on Facebook and in the newspaper, and that helped a lot.”

For the pair of slip-on Vans, the students depicted the merging of country life and city life.

Along with the shoe designs, Avella also submitted an impact document that included an explanation of how the high school art department would be impacted by the award money.

Miller said the art department plans to purchase a new sublimation heat press machine that will enable the students to design, make and sell shirts, hats, coffee mugs and other items as a source of income for the art department and its projects and field trips.

It also would like to renovate the art room, and purchase new art tables and chairs.

“I’m so proud of the kids,” said Miller. “It’s been a great experience.”

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