LORAIN, Ohio - Clearview High School is in the running for a major influx of cash thanks to the creative minds of two students and their determined art teacher now gaining nationwide recognition.
"It was just I knew these girls could pull it off for us and that, they certainly did," said Jacob Ward, the school's art teacher.
The high school made the cut of the top 50 schools across the country for the "Van's Custom Culture" shoe design competition, with a grand prize of $75,000 for the art program in addition to a free party for the entire school.
"I usually spend about $2,000 on supplies a year," Ward said. "If I only spent it on supplies, it would be about 35 years before I ran out of money."
Critical money needed for arts education, usually one of the the first programs to get cut when districts across the county lose funding.
For the two student masterminds behind the design, art is not just a way to express themselves, it's an outlet and occasional refuge from the world.
"It helps me get my feelings out there because it's something I can escape reality with," said 17-year-old student Kaitlyn Opel.
Ward describes both pair of shoes as sweet and sassy with local flair. The design represents the best of Northeast Ohio's picturesque landscapes; incorporating the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cedar Point, Lake Erie and even a towering lighthouse all drawn or sculpted on the shoe.
"There's just so much you can do, and it takes a lot of your creativity and you can put it in so many forms," said 15-year-old student Savanah Craigo.
The two-week voting period begins Monday. According to contest rules, four runner-up schools will receive $10,000 for their art program. Ward said making it this far is simply amazing.
"I was in bed, ready to go to sleep and I got the email from Vans. And I immediately started running around my apartment screaming and then I called my parents so extremely excited," said Ward with a laugh. "It was a sight to see."
All students said they need is your help to carry them across the finish line.
"Please support us, our art department," Opel said. "It doesn't have much to it, but we are honestly trying our hardest to make it more than just an art department. Please go and vote, that's all I ask."
A vote, Ward said, will secure the future of arts education and show students that being yourself is just as amazing as the imaginative shoes they designed.