OCEANSIDE — Using the talent of two art students and two pairs of Vans shoes, El Camino High School was selected as one of 500 schools to participate in a nationwide competition.
El Camino was selected to participate in the Vans Custom Culture high school shoe design contest earlier this year.
The competition gives participating high schools two pairs of white Vans shoes and asks that they submit designs on them with different themes.
For this year’s competition, one shoe design had to represent the “local flavor” of a school’s community, and the other pair of shoes had to have an “off the wall” design.
According to art teacher Diego De La Luz, this is the first year the school was selected to participate.
The competition was open to El Camino’s student body. De La Luz created a website where students could submit their designs, and more than 200 entries were submitted.
From those designs, De La Luz and other art department staff narrowed it down to 10 finalists for the “local flavor” design and another 10 for the “off the wall” design. School staff helped to select the finalists for each shoe design.
Sophomore Isiah Duran designed his “local flavor” submission in ceramics class. Bright yellow fades into orange in his depiction of a sunset contrasted by the bold blue of the ocean horizon on the shoes.
Little palm trees and even the pier are also featured in Duran’s design, which won under its category.
“When I think of Oceanside, I think of all the nice sunsets, the beach,” he said. “That’s kind of what our city is with all the nice colors and everything.”
Art may not be Duran’s career choice when he is older, but it is a hobby that he hopes to continue.
“It’s just something I like to do on my own,” he said. “I just doodle whatever is on my mind.”
Junior Maritza Diaz’s design was selected as the school’s winner for the “off the wall” themed shoe. Her design features horned and winged fantasy characters on an eye-catching red backdrop.
“Some time ago me and my friend jokingly designed some kind of fantasy thing, so l just kind of took that and ran with it,” Diaz said, explaining how she came up with the idea.
Art could be a possible career choice for the quiet, young student in the future, though it isn’t her only talent.
“Not only does she excel in art but she also excels in math,” De La Luz said about Diaz. “She produces some excellent work.”
The Vans competition is now in its public voting phase until May 3 to determine which of the top 50 finalists could win $75,000 for their art programs.
Though El Camino was not selected as one of the 50 finalists, the school made it further into the competition this year than in past years.
The Vans competition was created to bring attention to diminishing arts education budgets. The $75,000 prize could go a long way for a school’s art program.
De La Luz said each teacher in the department is only allotted about $1,200 to spend on all five sections each teaches. If funds are spread evenly, that’s only about $240 spending available per section.
If the school had won the $75,000, De La Luz said that money could have gone to creating a more robust art program by expanding what technologies are accessible to students, like design laptops or 3D printers.
“The art program is looking into the future by using more technology to amplify those qualities students bring to the classroom,” he said.
The money could have also helped to replace or refurbish the desks in his classroom, which date back to the 1960s.
The school could have put that money back into the community, De La Luz said, explaining they could have hired a local carpenter to refurbish the desks.
Duran likes his school’s art program but thinks many of peers don’t know enough about art. A more robust art program could attract more students, he explained.
“We could show other people what we can do,” he said.
De La Luz wants the community to be more engaged in the school’s art program as well and learn more about what art is.
“I think there is not much awareness to what art is,” he said. “With today’s technology and media exposure, including social media, art has taken many forms.”
Matthew Jennings, Oceanside Unified School District’s director of communications, said due to the popularity and success of the competition, students are planning for next year’s competition.
“Our students are proud of the collaborative work they put into the project and look forward to participating again next year,” Jennings said. “They are excited for the schools that have been selected to move forward in the competition and wish everyone the best of luck!”