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May 12, 2016 - East Coldenham Memorial Garden beautified

As the weather begins to warm up and flowers begin to bloom, visitors to East Coldenham Elementary School may notice an extra East Coldenham memorial garden  vibrancy to a small garden on the left side of the entrance to the school.

On November, 16, 1989, disaster struck the Valley Central community. A tornado struck the side of East Coldenham Elementary School and blew in a wall on the building's cafeteria, where more than 120 students were present. Many students were injured, four critically and nine students died in the incident. A few days after the disaster, tragedy struck again, when another child died in a car accident in front of the school. Two years later, a garden was constructed in front of the school to honor the memory of all the children who lost their lives in that tragic week. 

Over the years, the bushes of the garden had been eaten by deer, and the garden was in need of a restoration. “We felt that the beautification of the garden was necessary in order to fully honor and respect the memories of these children and their families,” Principal Marianne Serratore said

members of Valley Central School Districts building and grounds department pose next to the garden   

Members of the Valley Central School District community joined together to enhance the garden. Jim Presutti, Chuck Belfiore and other members of the district’s buildings and grounds department worked to replace the bushes, and add more color.


“It truly was a lesson in collaboration, and a reminder to the community at large to continue to respect the memory of the children who we lost in the East Coldenham tragedy,” Ms. Serratore said. “I would like to extend my deep gratitude to all those who made this restoration possible.”