Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Reagan/Doral High murals honor two killed in car accidents

Miami-Dade School Board member Susie Castillo with a mural honoring her daughter Andrea, who died at 21 in a 2012 car accident. The artwork, by Tony Mendoza, also honors Raphael Acevedo, who died at 17 in 2014. Both attended Ronald W. Reagan/Doral Senior High School.
Miami-Dade School Board member Susie Castillo with a mural honoring her daughter Andrea, who died at 21 in a 2012 car accident. The artwork, by Tony Mendoza, also honors Raphael Acevedo, who died at 17 in 2014. Both attended Ronald W. Reagan/Doral Senior High School.

The healing beauty of art is gradually being unveiled at Ronald W. Reagan/Doral Senior High. The first four works honor the memories of two students from the school who died too soon.

Andrea Castillo, 21, had been in Doral’s first graduating class of 2009. Raphael Acevedo was a 17-year-old senior. Both lost their lives in car accidents in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

The colorful murals, designed by local artist Tony Mendoza started as one and grew to four — two walls to remember and memorialize the lives of each student.

“The murals are a reflection of the extraordinary talent of Mr. Tony Mendoza, and a vibrant and colorful testament to the lives of two amazing young people gone far too soon,” said Miami-Dade School Board member Susie V. Castillo, mother of Andrea Castillo, in email.

“I am overjoyed that these murals will be a permanent part of Ronald W. Reagan/Doral Senior High School, memorializing the dreams and sheer love of life of Andrea and Raphael. ‘Palms and Remembrance’ is a touching and immortal piece that I hope will motivate and inspire all who walk by it. I hope it will inspire them to live fully, reach higher, promote kindness, and find peace and gratitude in every moment,” Castillo said.

Additional murals by students and other local artists are planned and will be added to the school in a joint community project with Florida International University and the Frost Museum.

Reagan/Doral Senior High School Principal Juan Carlos Silva developed the program called The Colors of Doral at RRDSH.

Among those attending the mural unveiling were Castillo and son Kevin, Mendoza, Silva, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Central Region Superintendent Albert Payne, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, Doral Mayor Luigi Boria, School Board Vice-Chair Larry Feldman, and the family of Raphael Acevedo.

To see the murals and learn more, visit

Watch the lunar eclipse

If the season’s thunderstorms don’t rain out the night, the Southern Cross Astros will offer free views of the eclipse of the moon starting 9 p.m., Sept. 27 at two locations. The total eclipse is from 10:11 p.m. to 11:23 p.m.

Through the use of hi-tech equipment you will be able to view the eclipse at SCAS D’Auria Observatory, 23325 SW 217 Ave. in Homestead, and Bill Sadowski Park, 17555 SW 79th Ave. in Palmetto Bay.

At both sites you can bring a picnic, chairs, bug repellent, binoculars and your own telescopes. Lasers, lights, litter, alcohol and pets are not permitted in the parks. There is no parking on private property.

Also at the Sept. 27 event, you can see the harvest moon, the closest full “supermoon” of 2015, at 10:50 p.m. Call 305-661-1375 and visit


Visionary leaders made up the team of artists, architects, designers, landscape architects, and builders who created the community of George Merrick’s dreams. To honor and continue the memory of Merrick’s quest, the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce annually honors a current city leader.

Congratulations to William H. ‘Bill’ Kerdyk Jr., vice mayor emeritus of the city of Coral Gables, and president and CEO of Kerdyk Real Estate, for being recognized with the 2015 George E. Merrick Award of Excellence.

“It was an honor and privilege to recognize Bill Kerdyk Jr. with the George Merrick Award whose achievements as a dedicated public servant over the last 20 years in Coral Gables more than exemplify George Merrick’s vision,” said Mark A. Trowbridge, president of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce in a release.

“Bill Kerdyk Jr. leaves behind an enduring legacy that includes the support of strong zoning codes, being fiscally conservative, advocacy for ‘best in class’ city services and promoting the highest quality of life for residents and businesses in the City Beautiful,” he said.

In addition to his business accomplishments, Kerdyk, an avid golfer, founded the Toyota Junior World Cup with Japanese business partners Yasmasa Tagashira and Eiji Tagashira in 1992. The tournament allows the finest junior golfers in the world the chance to compete in international team events.

Kerdyk served as a Coral Gables commissioner on a citywide, nonpartisan basis starting in 1995 and was reelected numerous times. He also served as vice mayor in 1999, 2001, and from 2007 to 2015. When he stepped down from public office last April, he was honored for his longstanding career as a public servant with the renaming of the 3.5-acre Riviera Park at 6611 Yumuri St. in Coral Gables. The park is now William H. Kerdyk Jr. Family Park.

His Kerdyk Family Trust Scholarship Fund created in October 2002 helps deserving high school graduates continue their studies in music. More than $40,000 has been awarded. And among his other awards, Kerdyk was a legacy honoree this year at the first annual Junior Orange Bowl Gala in Coral Gables. He was recognized for his “tireless, selfless work and impact on youth through philanthropic endeavors.”

Awards lunch helps kids

Amigos For Kids will honor Broward Democratic state Senate candidate Lauren Book, the late Ofelia San Pedro, and the Ford Motor Co. Fund at the fifth annual Celebration of Friendship Awards Luncheon and Children’s Fashion Show at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at Jungle Island. Tickets are $100.

Amigos For Kids, a nonprofit organization, has been dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect for nearly 25 years through strengthening families and educating communities.

For more information and to purchase tickets, contact Amigos For Kids at 305-279-1155, or visit

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at