South Orangetown Central School District

Tappan Zee High School art and COVE students, staff and administrators gathered this morning to rededicate the COVE Garden in honor of Lois Grand, who began the program more than 30 years ago as a District initiative. The ceremony feature TZ COVE student speeches, a student-led garden tour and performances by TZHS orchestra members.

“Lois started the program and was joined by Audrey Manners a few years later,” recalled Rockland BOCES special education teacher Bonnie McCort, who has been with the program since the start of its collaboration with BOCES 14 years ago.

Manners, who began teaching home economics in the District in the early 1970s, brought her experience in teaching living skills to the program in 1990. “Lois devoted her life to this and would do whatever it took to get the program right,” Manners said. “She was just a wonderful, caring person and she took me under her wing to learn everything I needed to learn about COVE. I grew to love it as much as she did.”

Throughout the spring, students worked together to convert the courtyard between the library media center and 700 hallway into a beautiful outdoor space featuring sculpture, painted furniture, wind chimes, plantings and classroom area. “This really is a story of collaboration. The TZ and TZ COVE students worked together to revitalize this space. As the garden came back to life, we saw our students come back to life, too,” reflected Rockland BOCES District-Based Principal Heather Dague.

“This is the highest level of education in our District at which students have used collaboration and problem-solving skills to address an issue in their school community. The garden looks amazing!” noted TZHS Principal Rudy Arietta, who served as a student peer counselor in a school program started by Grand in the early 1990s.

Principal Rudy Arietta helps cut ribbon on rededicated COVE Garden