Hilton Head High students remember classmate with tree

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 7, 2012 

  • Get breaking news, story updates and interesting reflections on Lowcountry schools by following Homeroom on Twitter.

The purple-pink blossoms that soon will appear on a newly planted redbud tree outside of Hilton Head Island High School will be more than a harbinger of spring for the senior class.

The tree is a memorial to classmate Estefany Arce-Castro, who died Jan. 5 at age 18 in a single-car crash on Interstate 95 in Georgia.

"She spent seven hours of her day here," said classmate Areli Fernandez, 16.With the tree planted, "it's like she's still here."

The senior class gathered for a short ceremony outside the school Tuesday morning to remember Estefany, who they say was friendly and bright.

Joel Hernandez, 17, had known her a few years. At first, he thought she was shy. But over time, her energetic and fun-loving personality shone through, like when a group attended a fair in Savannah, and Estefany was determined to go on all the carnival rides, he said.

Estefany's mother, Karla Castro-Salazar, said she hopes the tree will help Estefany's sister, Yariela, who returned to school this week after recovering from chest injuries in the crash.

Both Joel and Areli said students are dedicated to helping Yariela through this difficult time.

The sisters were very close, Areli said. "We'll show her we're there for her. I don't want her to feel sad."

Although she was a junior, Estefany had accelerated her studies and planned to graduate this year. Students plan to leave one seat empty at graduation to memorialize her.

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

Related content

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service