Vote For Parker! Small School Takes One More Shot At National Title

The Parker High School Art program hopes to beat out 3,000 contenders for the $50,000 prize.



Four years ago, the Parker High School art class entered the national Vans Shoe Design Contest, not knowing what, if anything would come out of it.

The school finished third in the country followed by a runner up finish the year after. The team just missed a top five finish a year ago and now are poised to make one last run at the top spot before laying the competition to rest.

“We have some amazing, creative kids and we can compete with anybody in the nation,” Art teacher Dave Fuller said.

The small art class in Parker has its sights set on the top spot in this year’s Vans Shoe Design Contest.

“When these are sent to us that’s definitely my priority anyway,” Park High School Senior Elizabeth Johnson said. “This competition means a lot to me. I was here as a freshman when we started it.”

Dave Fuller, the art teacher at Parker High School, first found out about the competition on a postcard in his mailbox.

“it said $50,000 to the winning school so I though that’s pretty cool,” Fuller said. “It also said a paid trip to New York and I thought that was cool too.”

After checking into it a little more, Fuller decided to enter his art class into the competition.

“They send us four pairs of white shoes,” Fuller said, “Our kids customize them, paint them and make them into the four different categories.”

The design process starts well before the shoes ever arrive.

“Basically when school starts we are coming up with ideas already because we want to be ready and start as soon as they get here so we don’t have any down time,” Johnson said. “Also right after the competition we started coming up with ideas too.”

One of the biggest challenges: painting on such a small surface.

“I would say it’s not that hard but some people would say it’s a little harder just because it is so small to paint on,” Parker Senior Gabby Herlyn said. “Usually you are used to painting on a regular sized canvas.”

It’s the talent and the attention to detail that have earned Parker High School a top 50 national finish in each of it’s first four years.

“We had two amazing trips to New York City for 20 of my art students, all expenses paid,” Fuller said. “I’d love to take these kids to California.”

“It was quite the surprise when we made it ( to New York ) because it was our first year and we didn’t fully know what we were doing yet,” Johnson said. “It was a great experience because you just don’t see that kind or the variety of art that you see in New York or Los Angeles that you would see here in South Dakota.”

It’s a memory the students would like to replicate one last time.

“I’ve been doing it for the last four years and so, we really want to make it back this year and put as much work as we can with them,” Johnson said. “The pressure almost seems higher because it is our last year. Almost seems like we should be there. It would be weird if we are not.”

“We’ve got some really, really good kids here,” Fuller said. “We can compete against anybody in the nation.”

The class says their biggest rival is from Sandy, Oregon.

The shoes are on display at the Empire Mall through the weekend. The team needs your votes. To cast your vote log on to

Voting runs through Monday, May 10th. The team will find out on Tuesday, May 11th, if they have enough votes to move on to the top five and a trip to Los Angeles.

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