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South Jordan Journal

Welby sixth grader wins state Reflections, gears up for next year’s competition

Jul 16, 2021 10:33AM ● By Julie Slama

Mercedes Trayner, a Welby Elementary sixth grader, won state Reflections in 3D art with her clay sculpture as well as received the award of merit in music. (Photo courtesy of Brittney Trayner.)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

The national PTA Reflections contest has more than 300,000 students in pre-K through grade 12 annually create original works of art in response to a student-selected theme. So, when Mercedes Trayner, a Welby Elementary sixth grader, received an email from the state PTA, she knew it was important.

Her clay sculpture of a girl that she worked on all last summer won the state award of excellence.

“She’s looking down into a mirror and pretty much, the girl feels that in order to matter, she has to wear big fancy dresses and look amazing. But when she looks down into the mirror, she finds that she matters, no matter what. She doesn’t need all the extra accessories to matter,” she said, adding that the reflection doesn’t show a girl with a fancy updo or outfit. “The girl with the fancy dresses doesn’t have a face. She’s not being true to herself, but when she sees herself in the mirror, she sees herself (with a face as she is), and she’s not all fancy.”

In her write-up accompanying her entry, Mercedes also said, “Sometimes, it’s hard to feel like we are accepted for who we are. But there is no one who doesn’t matter.”

Her sculpture wasn’t Mercedes only state placing. Her piano piece, with her mother singing, received the state award of merit.

Mercedes has played piano the past six years.  

“I love it; I wrote a song about like reasons that people matter,” she said, tying it into the Reflections’ theme, “I matter because … .”

Mercedes also had another entry in the film category win regionals to advance to state; however, that didn’t place in the state competition.

The sixth grader has a goal to enter each of the seven state categories in the Reflections contest; she already entered literature last year.

“Me and my friend always make lots of crafts and we like drawing, and so I thought it would be something fun to do,” Mercedes said, with her dad adding that his daughter also likes to paint and make videos on an iPad. 

She has thought about becoming a film director when she’s older. Mercedes said her films are “pretty random and weird”; her most recent production with a friend was about “if you don’t eat your fruit, your fruit will eat you.”

Mercedes was one of the students in Jordan School District who was honored for placing in the state competition and along with other award-winners, honored at the Old Dome Meeting Hall in Riverton on May 11.

Other South Jordan award-winners include Monte Vista’s Brauer Warner, who received an award of excellence in visual arts, and Rush Simmons, who received an award of merit in visual arts; Jordan Ridge’s Brynlee Ericson, who received an award of merit in dance, and Brittney Ericson, who received an honorable mention in dance; and Elk Ridge’s Bridger Pedroza, who received an honorable mention in the literature special artist category.

However, Mercedes isn’t sitting idly by this summer. She already is thinking about which of the Reflections’ categories she will enter this coming year when she’s a student at Elk Ridge Middle School.

And she has advice to other students who plan to enter Reflections.

“Make sure [the entry] really does match the theme, and then make sure the paragraphs you write also matches it,” Mercedes said, adding that it could make the difference if the entry moves on to the next level. “And definitely, make it fun and have fun.”