Shoe designs could net $75,000

  Two Switzerland County High School students have had their designs selected as finalists for a national contest — and with the help of the community it could mean $75,000 for the school.


  Two Switzerland County High School students have had their designs selected as finalists for a national contest — and with the help of the community it could mean $75,000 for the school.

  Junior Zoe Cole and sophomore Ally Furnish designed custom shoes as a part of the “Vans Custom Culture” contest, and after more than 2,000 schools submitted designs, the Switzerland County entry has been selected as one of the 50 finalists.

  The Vans Shoe Company now has the finalists on its website:

  People are now asked to go to the site and vote for their favorite design. After putting in your email address, you are allowed to vote once each day. Voting is now open, and will remain open until 5 p.m. on Friday, May 4th. The school with the design receiving the most votes will receive $75,000 for its art department, while the four runners up will each receive $10,000.

  The Vans Custom Culture contest was created to support schools across the country experiencing art department budget cuts. Over 2,000 schools submitted customized Vans shoes embodying the Vans “Off the Wall” and “Local Flavor” lifestyle. Schools also submitted an impact doc explaining how winning this donation would affect their arts programs since they have suffered budget cuts.

  Vans sent the school two free pair of shoes at the beginning of January, allowing the girls to move their inspirations from paper to reality.

Ally Furnish and Zoe Cole

  Zoe, who has been involved in the contest for the past three years; and Ally, who is in her second year, were encouraged to again submit entries by high school art teacher Donna Baker.

  Acting as a team, Zoe worked on the “Off the Wall” design, and was inspired by this year’s Mardi Gras prom theme to create a unique design paying homage to the event.

  “I was on the prom committee this year, so I thought it would be a fun shoe to do,” Zoe said. “I really wasn’t sure what I was going to with the shoes at first, I had a couple of ideas sketched out, but I still hadn’t picked between my ideas when I got them.”

  “I think we both had ideas when we first started, but I didn’t have a specific idea, I just decided to go with the flow,” Ally — tackled the “Local Flavor” element of the contest — said. “We discussed it a lot.”

  Zoe used acrylic paint — and lots of glitter — on her Mardi Gras shoes, and also incorporated elements such as feathers into her design.

  Ally’s inspiration was two-fold, with one shoe paying homage to the county’s history of deer hunting; while the other features a design of the Schenck Mansion.

  “I also used acrylic paint, but my antlers were polymer clay,” Ally said. “And also the fur on the sides I got from a craft store.”

  Photos of the shoes were sent to Vans around the middle of February; and the girls found out that they were finalists at the end of last week.

  “I was really excited, because I’ve been doing this for three years and I’ve never made it into the voting round of it, so it was very exciting,” Zoe said.

  The shoes are now on display at the Community Art Center.

  “We need everybody in Switzerland County to vote everyday,” Zoe said. “We’re going up against some big schools. In addition to the $75,000, the winning school also gets a private concert and a barbecue. We want to win, but we need everybody’s help to do it.”

  Zoe is the daughter of Adam and Amanda Cole; and Ally is the daughter of Raymond and Stephanie Furnish.

  Again: to vote, go to, follow the link, and then scroll down to the Switzerland County designs and hit VOTE.