Wrangell Students Seek Votes After Reaching Top 50 in Vans Shoe Design Contest

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A pair of shoes designed and painted by Wrangell students pay homage to Tlingit art and culture.
(Courtesy of Wrangell High School)

A nationwide contest to design Vans skate shoes could raise up to $50,000 for Wrangell High School’s art program. Wrangell students’ shoe designs are among the top 50 submissions, with voting open to the public through May 6.

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Wrangell art students designed two intricately painted pairs of Vans – one pair depicting iconic Wrangell scenes and seasons, the other a fur-trimmed homage to Tlingit art and culture.

These designs placed Wrangell in the top 50 of 250 schools participating nationwide in shoe company Vans’ Custom Culture High School competition this year.

There are high schools with more students than the population of the entire island of Wrangell. So in a national public poll, Wrangell faces tough odds.

But that does not discourage the small community.

Wrangell ‘hometown pride’ shoes show winter and summer scenes.
(Courtesy of Wrangell High School)

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Bob Davis, homeroom teacher at Wrangell Middle and High School, told students at an April 25 assembly. “And we need all of your help and we will need it every day between now and pretty much the end of the school year.

The day Wrangell High discovered that their two pairs of shoes had made the first round of cuts, staff called a school-wide assembly. Davis asked the students to pull out their phones and computers.

“We want you guys — I mean, it’s really weird for me to say — but we really want you guys to be on social media promoting this stuff,” Davis told the students with a laugh. “Please remember, you are promoting Wrangell and our school. So please keep it clean, something we can be proud of for years and years.

The stakes are high: If the shoes make the Top 5 after a public vote, the school could win between $15,000 and $50,000 for its art program.

Community members flooded local social media pages with support. One created an ongoing Facebook event to help remind people to vote for Wrangell’s shoes – contest rules allow the public to vote once a day until the May 6 deadline.

Music and art teacher Tasha Morse says she invited everyone on her friend list to the group, no matter where they live. Although she says she is optimistic about Wrangell’s chances of victory, the Top 5 out of 50 has a 10% chance.

“It’s a good chance for me,” Morse said after the meeting. “I’m not a player, but if I was, I’d take my chances.”

High school student Rowen Wiederspohn was part of the small team of artists who painted Wrangell’s entrances.

Both pairs of shoes on display at Wrangell High.
(Wise Smiley / KSTK)

“It’s awesome,” Wiederspohn said, “knowing that the community will always support us for stuff like this. Every person I’ve seen has already voted when I told them to.

Wrangell High Schools is giving students five minutes of their first period lessons each day to give them a chance to vote. But Wrangell High has only 62 students.

Students and staff at Wrangell High School say they were blown away by the public support they saw for their shoe designs, which spilled onto social media earlier this month, shared by the Southeast Alaska Regional Native Society, Sealaska, state legislators and even Portuguese rock band from Alaska. The man.

Now they hope they can tap into that broader interest and inspire votes from across the state and in the lower 48.

For now, Wrangell’s two pairs of Vans are proudly displayed in a display case in one of the high school’s hallway displays.

Alaska is well represented in the national contest. Another high school in Alaska – Colony High in Palmer – also made the top 50 schools in this year’s Vans contest.

Votes can be submitted once per day until May 6. Check out the Schools’ 50 Best Designs and vote for Wrangell, at customculture.vans.com.

Contact KSTK at [email protected] or (907) 874-2345.

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