South Orangetown Central School District

At the start of the 2016-17 school year, Tappan Zee High School students Diana Rizzo and Trinity Lundemo started TZ United to help build a more united, inclusive and supportive school community by bringing club members and students in the TZHS COVE program together throughout the school year.

Yesterday, club advisor Scott Silver hosted an informational meeting for more than 70 students who expressed interest at last month’s club fair. “We had a huge number of freshmen and sophomores sign up, so the focus today is explaining how TZ United got started and what it’s all about,” Silver said.

Both Rizzo and Lundemo had siblings in the COVE program and wanted them to have the same high school experience as every other TZ student. To achieve this goal, TZ United members organize and produce fun activities focused on sports skills and games that provide opportunities to meet and build relationships with their COVE peers.

Participation is personal for TZ United Co-President Liam Boyle. “I have a family member with Down’s Syndrome and I got involved to help foster a greater sense of community here. Creating that sense of connection has been most important to me.”

Four-year member Christian Florencia echoes the sentiment. “It’s about the interaction and having COVE students feel like they are part of this community. When I walk down the hall and fist bump my COVE friends, it makes my day.”

The Community Occupational Vocation Education (COVE) program is offered in collaboration with Rockland BOCES and serves students who benefit from a functional academic program with an emphasis on job skill development and life skills. Both South Orangetown Middle School and Tappan Zee High School host COVE classes.

TZ United meeting at Tappan Zee High School