Palmetto High School senior Jose (Jay) Castro is an Eagle Scout. He completed his Eagle Project last November and received his badge at a Court of Honor with several other Boy Scouts during the last school year. Because of his involvement with Boy Scouts, Castro has earned almost 900 hours of community service. “We have a really large troop and they turn out anywhere from 10-18 Eagle Scouts a year; I go to all of their projects,” Castro says.
Castro finished his project last November at Coral Reef Park. The project was done in the area of the park near the office where three sidewalks intersect to form a triangle.
“I had 101 people sign in,” Castro says. “The largest part of the project was mulching.”
Not only did they mulch, they also planted Mondo grass, Variegated Flax and Liriope. “We got that (the mulch) free from a mulching company,” Castro says.
“We got two truckloads and we spread that in five hours. It was a mountain of mulch.”
They also repaired a wooden fence near Southwest 77th Avenue and built two custom- designed benches.
“I designed two benches with my grandfather, who is an architect,” Castro says. “They are backless benches. We had the posts built by a metal shop. They were donated.”
The park benches were placed in the triangle area.
“That was nice; I’ve gone back and have seen people using them,” he says.
The project cost $1,000, of which he was able to generate $925 by fundraising. Most of the donations came from sending out letters to friends and family.
At Palmetto, Castro is an officer in Future Business Leaders of America.
“I’ve gone to the state competition every year,” he says. “The first year (the category) was introduction to business. The second year was business math and the next year was business communications.”
To get to the state competition, he had to be in the top three at the district competition.
“This year I’m thinking of doing economics,” Castro says. “I’m probably going to need a lot more studying. It’s definitely harder than the other subjects that I’ve taken.”
Castro also plays viola in the Palmetto orchestra. He has been first chair for three years. He started playing viola as a club activity when he was in the fifth grade at Palmetto Elementary.
He is now involved with the Greater Miami Youth Symphony (GMYS). He started at the symphony level last year and is continuing this year.
“We play professional level music at multiple concerts throughout the year, including one last year that we played with flutist Nestor Torres,” Castro says.
Playing viola is important enough to him that he plans to play in college, although music is not likely to be his major.
“I might minor in it, but if I don’t, I’ll participate in an intramural orchestra,” he says.
Castro’s college applications include submissions to Cornell, Northwestern, University of Florida, University of Miami, Vanderbilt, Duke and Bucknell. He is interested in majoring in engineering, probably electrical or possibly industrial.
“It’s a different way of looking at things,” he says. “When you got to engineering school, you learn to look at problems in a different way and look at solutions.”
This summer, Castro spent five weeks volunteering at the Museum of Science’s summer camp. “It’s a really good program to get you thinking about science and how it works,” he says. “It seemed like a nice environment to work in.”
Additional community service includes volunteer work with Relay for Life. He became involved with it when it started in Pinecrest. “I do it with my friends,” he says. “I’m going to do it again this year.”
By Linda Bernfeld Rodriguez