A Set Of Twins Who Set The Stage For Success!

Marlee Jaworski, Staff Writer

  Suspense arose for Pines Charter freshman twins Caleb and Matthew Mercado, as they waited for the results from the Ocean Awareness Contest to come back. The boys entered this contest in 2022, at the end of their 8th grade year, entering with the ambition to make an impact among their peers, not just for the merit. 

   Soon enough, their hard work shone, as they received the email they had been waiting for. 

   They won. 

   Since it began in 2011, the Ocean Awareness Contest has led many schools to encourage their students to participate–this year’s theme was “the funny thing about climate change.” It pushed students to work with irony and positivity to stress this impending issue. This contest also gives out cash prizes ranging from $100 honorable mentions to $1000 gold winner prizes. 

   Despite being alike, the Mercado twins decided to take different approaches to the theme. Caleb tackled an art piece while Matthew tried creative writing, both requiring ample amounts of patience and effort before clicking the submit button. Caleb’s art piece was a Puerto Rican man grilling burnt meat, a radio in the back that was saying it will be very hot, the man’s car melting and a very hot sun. 

A Puerto Rican man grills burnt meat, a radio in the background reports hot weather, and the man’s car melts under the sweltering sun. Together, these elements produced an award-winning art piece put together by freshman Caleb Mercado. Both Caleb and his twin brother Matthew (who wrote a creative writing piece) were awarded prize money. (Photo Donated by: Caleb Mercado)

   Caleb says his process took days. “I began to draw the black details and outlines for each object. After that, I did the first round of basic coloring. I placed the base values of color onto the shirt, hat, grill, and cars,” he explained. “Then, I added shadows and reflections to the metal and the man’s face, also adding lines for sweat. And finally, I added cross-hatching and transparent details to form the fire all around the artwork.” 

   When it came to Matthew’s entry, he also made sure his thoughts on people’s ignorance regarding the environment were portrayed. Writing a transcript portraying an impeachment trial required sources and a solid plan. 

   “I started with the front cover of the impeachment script–all the examples of presidential scripts I had seen had some sort of official logo and lettering,” Matthew explained. “I then created a fake organization (I.I.O), a background story, and Eversor Securus, a fake individual to be the accuser in the trial. Lastly, I wrote the events.” 

   The Ocean Awareness Contest looks for messages in their submissions, which is why they let their participants submit under different categories– both twins made digital creations. Caleb Mercado was trying to experiment for his art piece instead of using traditional materials. “I tried regular day-to-day mediums, so I wanted to mix it up in the hopes of a better product. It was much easier to work with, as errors can be easily revised, and there’s much more control as to what you put onto the artwork.” As early June approached, Caleb and Matthew worked tirelessly on their submissions– trusting in what they had created. 

   Only a few months later, the email they had been waiting for finally arrived: a warm congratulations.

   The contest sent an email to them just to congratulate them and to notify them that their work was selected in the contest. Both Mercado boys got a We all Rise Prize which included a cash award of $750. And to top everything off, Caleb got a distinguished honorable mention with a cash prize of $100 for his artwork. 

   Brimming with confidence, getting their work recognized was the push they needed to start their freshman year, and their high school journey, on the right foot.