Students at Cooper City High School have a new place to relax and unwind. If they need to take a break, they can visit the Zen Garden.

Assistant Principal Dr. Carla Hozebin came up with the idea to make a labyrinth at the school to help students cope with stress and anxiety. When Lauren Nassi became preside of the Interact Club, she knew she wanted that to be one of her first projects. What started as a way to fulfill a community service requirement for the club became much more.

“High school can be a very stressful place,” said Lauren. “Students spend so much time studying and stressing for the future and for college. Sometimes they just need to sit down, live in the moment and relax – even if it is for a few minutes.”

Before the garden was built, the area at the school was filled with rocks from a demolished building. There were only two trees growing.

“They took an eyesore and made it look like something beautiful,” said Steve Franzone, faculty advisor for the club.

To raise money, the school held a fundraiser at Menchies and sold rocks with peaceful messages to put inside the garden. Rotary members also provided them with donations and funding to help with the project.

The garden contains a labyrinth, where students can meditate. There are flowers and other pretty plants, such as orchids, sunflowers and lavender, as well as bamboo fencing. Sierra Decker, a senior in the art club, painted a mural dedicated to the Stoneman Douglas High School students that were killed. The names of each student are written on a ribbon that is draped from three doves. The garden itself is also being dedicated to them.

“A lot of students at Cooper personally knew a victim,” said Lauren. “This area is an amazing place to sit around and think about everything and honor their memory.”

The Interact Club’s mission is to provide service through taking action to solve the community’s most prominent and persistent issues. Interact members have a passion to do good and help others by using their intelligence and energy to take a stand on sustainable issues that need fixing and people willing to fix them.

“Interact members are committed to making the community and world better by applying leadership and expertise to social issues and finding unique solutions,” said Lauren. “Our members’ passion and perseverance creating lasting and significantly noticeable change.”