By: Giulia Basso, Miesha Moss, Belen Sassone
On April 22, Ronald W. Reagan/ Doral Sr. High School commemorated Earth Day with a tree planting which was also a ceremony to honor Raphael Acevedo, a student who earlier this year passed away due to injuries sustained when he was hit by a car.
Principal Juan Carlos Silva spoke of the fact that Earth Day and Acevedo’s birthday fall on the same day. Because of this, a tree was planted to commemorate the life and spirit that Acevedo embodied. ?“It’s a good day for you as seniors to carry the message of Rapha,” said Silva in his opening speech.
Silva then welcomed special guests to speak in remembrance. Acevedo’s father reminded students that no text message is worth someone’s life as he recalled the pain and suffering that he and his family continue to endure.
School Board member Susie V. Castillo, who also lost her daughter and Reagan alumni, Andrea, in a car accident said, “We have lost so many young people already. Be careful driving and remember we all love you.”
Mayor Luigi Boria followed Castillo, saying, “Today is really a day that we have to remember the good things that happen in our city. Now is the day to remember the kids that have passed, but remember we can give life.”
It was also announced that murals will be added to the courtyard as a community project using local artists. The first of these murals will be in memory of Acevedo and was designed by Tony Mendoza, who will be completing the first four murals to be added.
Senior Daniel Villegas said, “I think murals are a great idea because not only can they express design and creativity, but functionally they can advocate a message in a unique and refreshing way which often means it will have more impact, and the fact that it will commemorate Raphael shows that there is a semblance of care for the community and our residents.”
Before revealing the mural design to the public, Mendoza presented the parents of Acevedo with a smaller version of what will one day be displayed in the courtyard.
Mendoza plans to begin painting during the summer and hopes to unveil the artwork at the beginning of school barbeque in August.
For inspiration, Mendoza “spoke to [Silva], Raphael’s friends, and they said that certain symbols had to be there to remember Raphael and move on and be positive.”
These symbols included a thumbs up because Raphael was always giving the thumbs up and saying everything would be okay.
“It’s a great idea to motivate the student body to not text and drive. Saving a life is more important,” said junior Juanita Anderson.
It was also revealed that one of the murals will be dedicated to Castillo’s daughter. However, Mendoza does not want to give too many details away at the moment.
Many of the students who were present felt touched by the tribute and look forward to the inauguration of the mural project.
Senior Valerie Hammer said, “I could say that the ceremony was a beautiful way for us to get back together again and remember our wonderful friend Rapahel, especially on his special birthday.”