shoe designersMiddletown South teacher Christen Tummillo, right, with student shoe designers. Front row: Evelyn Merino, left, and Caitlin Mendina. Back row: Megan Doyle, Courtney Walsh, Eric Molloy and Jesse Price.

Press release from Middletown High School South  

MHSS Vans shoesSeveral students at Middletown High School South received some exciting news recently when their shoe design entries were selected as semi-finalists, representing the Northeast Region, in the Vans Custom Culture design competition.

Vans Custom Culture is a national high school design competition that aims to raise awareness of diminishing arts education budgets across the country, and to help students express their #RightToArt. The winner of the final selection will bring $50,000 back to their school’s art department.

This is the second time that the young artists from Middletown South have made it to this point in the contest. In 2013 MHSS teacher Christen Tummillo and her students made it into the final round of the contest (top 5 in the nation), and were awarded $14,000.

Middletown South was selected by Vans Custom Culture as one of 50 semifinalists from nearly 3,000 registered schools in the United States. An on-line public vote is in progress from now until May 11. The students have been rallying their peers and families to vote for their designs on the Vans Custom Culture website (vans.com/customculture).

The school that gets the most votes for their shoes from each of the five regions will be flown to Los Angeles for a four day final event, and the final winner will be decided by a surprise group of celebrity judges to be announced. Additionally, Vans will donate $4,000 to each of the four runners up, and retail partner Journeys will donate $15,000 to the school with the most compelling pair of “local flavor” themed shoes.

Students were provided four pairs of blank Vans shoes and were challenged to create designs that represent the four themes of the Vans “Off The Wall” lifestyle: action sports, arts, music and local flavor. The students chose for their designs images of a snowboarder holding a Go Pro (Action Sports); a graffiti artist at work (Art); a galaxy theme (Music), with the Local Flavor design inspired by Atlantic Highlands and the Jersey Shore.The students worked collaboratively in the creative process, and all contributed to achieve their goal. Students were introduced to the project in February so that they could start thinking about, discussing and sketching their design ideas with the bulk of their work taking place during the month of March.

“The students worked feverishly together, painting, airbrushing and working through design changes,” Christen Tummillo explained. “They worked for weeks during school, after school, even coming in to school over spring break. It really was amazing to see the dedication and heart that this group put out.”

Visit Vans.com/CustomCulture to vote in the competition, and follow the movement on social media by using the hashtag #RightToArt.

Detailed photos of the designs are below.

MHSS Vans Action Sports

MHSS Vans Art

MHSS Vans Local Flavor

MHSS Vans Music