Picture 656 feet wiggling 3,280 toes into the contents of 328 boxes of the coolest hightops this side of the Capital Beltway, and you have the scene at Raymond Elementary School last week.

This was no Adidas or Reebok promotion. No Michael Jordan pitching status Air Jordans, no Spike Lee for Nikes.

These shoes were exclusive, custom designed white hightops with bright green laces, a roaring Raymond Tiger on one side and a red and white District flag on the tongue.

Kindergartner Frank Medina looked down at his size 3 feet and uttered two words:

"They're beautiful," he beamed.

At $25, the shoes also are signficantly cheaper than the popular Adidas, Nike and Reeboks that can cost up to $170 a pair.

And that was the point.

Competition for trendy, high-priced sneakers has been blamed for fights and muggings in schoolyards nationwide. Thirteen months ago, 15-year-old Michael Eugene Thomas was killed near Fort Meade, and the 17-year-old charged in the slaying was wearing Thomas's $115 red Air Jordans. In Atlanta, police count more than 50 robberies for sportswear so far this year. No such figures were available for the District, but such incidents are reported regularly.

Education officials believe Raymond is the first public school in the country to design and distribute its own sneaker. This spring, the D.C. Board of Education commended the school for its enterprise. At least four other city schools -- Powell, Brookland, Ketcham and Orr elementaries -- are considering the idea.

Teachers and parents think the shoes will take pressure off parents to buy their children expensive, name-brand footwear.

"My child came home and told me he had to have a pair of Reeboks because all the other children had them," said Marvin Turner, whose 8-year-old son attends Raymond. "He felt inferior."

The students were brainstorming for fund-raising ideas last September when they came up with the idea to design their own sneakers. Assistant Principal Faye Thompson took the idea to the parents.

Turner, who owns an advertising firm in the District, asked officials at Straight Corp., a retail distributor in Capitol Heights, to find a manufacturer for the Raymond project.

Cynthia Abrom, an educational aide, began working on a design: shoes in the school colors, emblazoned with the mascot, a tiger.

Teachers said the students rejected the first tiger design as too timid and changed it to one that was more ferocious. Then the order was sent to Yiu Shiang Footwear Industrial Co. in Taiwan, the company that manufactures 85 percent of children's athletic shoes.

"It's the same shoe. The same materials. The same workmanship. The same everything that Nike and Reebok and them have, but the names are different," Turner said.

Well, almost. In this case, the manufacturer charges $13.50 a pair and the school marks them up to $25. Profits will go toward playground equipment, computers and other school supplies.

Last week, the shoes finally arrived. And like savvy entrepreneurs, the students staffed makeshift quality-control and fitting stations around the auditorium.

"Give me a line. Give me a line, son. There's no need of rushing," warned one parent volunteer as eager students darted up for their orders.

"They're nice. They represent school spirit. They look better than Reeboks and stuff," said Flora Simmons, 9, a third-grader.

"All I think is that they look good," said second-grader Miranda Reavies, admiring the Charles W. Raymond Elementary School printed on her heel.

Slightly more than half of the 640 students ordered the shoes. Some said they couldn't afford them.

"My mother's going to buy some next week," said one fourth-grader. "She said she didn't have the money right away."

A kind-hearted parent intervened, and a little later the 10-year-old was eagerly shoving her feet into Raymond shoes.

But most adults said they saw the shoes as a happy compromise for a materialistic generation.

"Their mother is a single parent supporting three children, and we just can't afford {designer shoes}," said Gladys Thomas, who has two grandchildren at Raymond.

Valencia Mohammed, a parent activist with four children at Raymond, said one of her youngsters had been teased for wearing shoes from a local discount store. "I think this is great. The shoes don't cost much. Everybody's happy."

After school, gleeful Raymond students danced in the hallways and bounded along busy Georgia Avenue, testing the bounce of their shoes.

Still, you can't please everyone.

Take Timothy L. Williams, an administrative intern at Raymond:

"I'm just angry that they don't have the adult sizes, because I want them now," he said.