East Harlem students show neighborhood pride in sneaker design contest

EAST HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- Some high school students in Manhattan are designing flashy sneakers to represent their neighborhood for a chance at a big prize.

The art class at Central Park East High School, along with students at two other schools in New Jersey, are closing in on the nationwide competition.

The students have pooled their artistic talents for the contest sponsored by Vans to create two pairs of shoes that are emblematic of their East Harlem neighborhood -- also known as El Barrio and complete with the 6 train and its track.

"We take the 6 train to 103rd and that's where we meet and to go home, that kind of represents all of us coming together," 9th-grader Alan Mateo said.

The students say the shoes are a representation of East Harlem and East Harlem pride.

Their teacher Dom Difiglia came across the contest and asked for student volunteers.

"When the students saw the white shoes they got really excited, it was real then," Difiglia said.

Students said they all put in effort as a team and collaborated to come up with some great ideas.

They collaborated, argued and came in 90 minutes before school started every day for six weeks.

Their hard work has paid off. Five-hundred schools entered and now 50 remain, including David Brearly High School and Roselle Park High School in New Jersey.

Central Park East High School is the only school from New York state. The winning school gets $75,000.

"The whole idea of $75,000 is mind-boggling," Difiglia said. "Just the idea of getting that kind of money is amazing."

It's now up to the public to decide. Voting is open through May 3 on the Vans website.

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