Steppin’ on the competition

May 16, 2014


Amairani Triana

On Thurs., May 8, freshman Giovanni Orozco, one of the semi finalists for the Vans Custom Culture contest, displays his submission, after Ms. Nikaj entered him and six other students. “Sometimes I wouldn’t finish my work for other classes just to work on the shoes,” freshman Orozco said.

Downey art students entered the Vans Custom Culture competition, a national high school shoe customization contest, where participants submitted their designs in hopes of their school being chosen as a finalist. Seven students, hand picked by Ms. Nikaj and Ms. Joest, transformed their shoes to fit a specific theme, spent hours to perfect their creation, entered the contest, and led the school into becoming one of the 50 semi-finalists.

Mrs. Joest, beginning Art teacher in the J hall, first heard of this contest through a college friend. Excited that the winners could receive a 50,000 dollar prize for their art program, Joest took on the responsibility of registering Downey as one of the schools along with AP art teacher, Ms. Nikaj. The two flipped through the students’ sketches and picked the ones that most impressed them to be painted onto the 4 white pairs of shoes that Vans mailed to them.

“We had to weed through our individual classes, so we compiled the ones that we thought were the best out of our group,” Joest said. “Then we decided on the best ones that could be chosen.”

All art students were open to participate and bombarded the two teachers with their sketches. After much deliberation, they chose freshmen Giovanni Orozco and Kristina Cruz, juniors Leeanne Mena, Tobith Alonso, and Jennifer Xilo, and seniors Dulce Zelaya and Selena Corral.

Because Vans provided the teachers with four white pairs of shoes, six students decided to collaborate on a pair, one painting the right shoe and the other the left, all with the exception of freshman, Art II student, Giovanni Orozco. He decided to be responsible for both shoes and chose the theme local flavor out of the other three which included: music, art, and action sports. Inspired by California’s famous beaches, Orozco painted the right shoe as a sandy beach during a sunset surrounded by palm trees and surfboards, and the left shoe as a classic wooden car with painted wheels on the bottom, and washed over with an ocean blue color.

“I was excited because I like to design and draw…and you have to accept every opportunity,” Orozco said. “I liked working by myself because you feel more proud.”

After Downey was announced as one of the top 50 semi finalists, tobacco awareness company, Truth, announced an additional contest for only the 50 chosen schools. The rule of the contest was to create an original design about deceptive tobacco companies and paint it on a deck board; the winner would receive 10,000 dollars for their school’s art program. Senior, AP Art student Brandi Kim needed one more project for her portfolio and decided to take on the challenge of painting the deck with the help of Ms. Nikaj. The two collaborated on an idea of a wolf disguised as a sheep, representing tobacco companies and their attempt to disguise the poisons accompanied with their cigarettes. Kim, however, had less than a week to complete the project and had to dedicate her time entirely to finalize her creation.

“I didn’t think it was going to take that long because it looked easy, but painting is hard,” Kim said. “I didn’t do any other homework besides that because there’s so much detail. It’s a big sacrifice.”

On Apr. 25, Vans announced the top 50 semi-finalists and put up the shoe pictures online along with a voting poll. The school who received the highest public vote from their region was chosen on May 12, the last day to vote, determining the five finalists from each region that will be flown out to New York to attend an event with celebrity guests, and choose which school will receive the $50,000 prize for their art department. Carlsbad High School took the win for the finalist in the California region, beating Downey High School.

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About the Contributors
Photo of Gabriela Sanchez
Gabriela Sanchez, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Writer Gabby Sanchez enters The Downey Legend staff with high hopes and a career oriented state of mind. She has been chosen to take on the position as Arts & Entertainment Editor, a position not so easily conquered. Using her skills as a writer she hopes to attract more readers to the arts Downey High School has to offer. Sanchez decided to join the online publication in order to gain insight in journalism. “I wanted to see if this was something I could be able to do as a career,” Sanchez said. For this aspiring journalist, her work has only just begun.


The editor had never seen her future predicted this way; moving from Peru at the age of three limited her English, proving difficult for her to adjust to the new language. “During elementary, I was bad at English, but its something I later improved in,” Sanchez said. She not only improved in a foreign language, but she also grew to like the challenge she accustomed to. After overcoming this difficulty proved to be a great strength in Sanchez, using it to her advantage when confronted by deadlines as well as schoolwork.


But beyond the classroom is where she enjoys her teen years with friends, listening to music, and enjoying the foods and movies other countries have to offer. “I love Italian food,” the cuisine enthusiast said. “I also like to watch movies in my spare time, especially foreign films.” With having The Downey Legend set as a foundation for her future, Sanchez’ main incentive is to travel the world and live on her own. Although unsure of what college to pursue her journalism career, she knows a UC will suit her in her plan to write for Time Magazine.
Photo of Amairani Triana
Amairani Triana, Photographer
Amairani Triana, a senior at Downey High School, joined The Downey Legend 2013-2014 staff this year as a photographer. She not only loves to capture pictures on her camera for fun, but for the deeper meaning of the story that the pictures tell. Triana has always been interested in photography and decided to fulfill her passion for taking pictures by becoming a photojournalist for The Downey Legend. This photographer is hoping to improve her photo skills so that she catches the eyes of audiences all over campus. Triana also plans on furthering her photography skills in college as she hopes to attend Cal State Long Beach next year. She also plans on traveling to uncivilized areas around the world, such as Rwanda, Africa, to broaden her horizons; she aspires to open her mind to the different views of the world. Although she is unsure of her career choice at the moment she is sure she wants to keep photography a part of her as she progresses in life.


Since Triana is an only child, in her free time she enjoys spoiling her dog, Lucy, a golden retriever, who keeps her company and is the subject of many of her freelance photos. When she is not pampering her much-adored puppy this photographer likes to kick her feet up at the end of the day and chant “Goal!” as she watches her favorite sport: soccer, on TV. While at school, she can be found around campus with her best friend of two years, photographer Cindy Macias. The photographer explains that her best friend is the complete opposite of herself. “Cindy has a very strong and bold personality, a little more outgoing than me,” Triana said, “I’m more of a quiet and gentle person.” Her mother who has made Triana the friendly person that she is today inspires Triana’s positive outlook on life and innocent nature. “My mom is the person I look up to,” Triana said. “She is always so happy and positive, and she can never be mean. She is just an overall good person.” Her optimistic attitude keeps Triana going as she aspires to reach her goals and further her education as a photographer.

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