The Raquel Osete Orchard will soon be filled with trees bearing fruit and blooming plumerias, a tribute to the Miller Elementary student who was killed last year in a hit-and-run crash.
Raquel Osete, 10, often wore plumerias in her hair.
“As the plumerias bloom that will reflect her smile,” her father Michael Rosete said. “As the fruits are edible, they can talk about what a sweet person she was."
On Thursday, classmates dedicated their orchard and garden to the little girl who was killed while walking along Santo Road. Raquel and her friend were struck by a distracted driver in February 2016.
The driver was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run and will spend 11 years behind bars.
Even though the court case is over, the family is still dealing with the painful loss.
“We’re just trying to go day by day, step by step,” Raquel's mother Brandye Rosete said. “It’s almost like it was just an hour ago when Raquel went to Heaven.”
Brandye said there are days like Mother’s Day where it’s still a struggle to even get out of the bed.
Raquel was very involved at Miller Elementary from student mentoring to the violin and judo.
“She was in the fifth grade and all the little kids looked up to her,” her mother, Brandye Rosete said. “She mastered everything she did but she was very humble.”
“Raquel Osete was a bright light amongst our students and it impacted our community greatly,” Vice Principal Fred Hilgers said at Thursday's school assembly.
The family feels blessed for the support from the staff at the school.
Raquel was the youngest of five children. On Thursday, her siblings helped Brandye and Michael as they planted the trees and plumerias in rows with signs decorated by students.
A memorial garden made sense. When the family sees flowers in front of them or the color purple, they feel Raquel’s presence. The one family member who was always smiling.
“I know she’s just smiling from Heaven,” her father said.