'Bad Teacher' Leads to Good Eliot School Garden Program

Eliot Middle School teacher and students held an official ceremony opening a new raised bed vegetable and flower garden that got started with a grant from an organization affiliated with 'Bad Teacher' star Cameron Diaz.

Altadena's dedicated a new raised-bed garden Wednesday that has its roots in the star of the comedy movie Bad Teacher, Cameron Diaz, who filmed part of the movie at Eliot.

The garden has nine raised beds constructed from wood that will house a variety of plants such as strawberries, corn, sunflower, quinoa, and more.

According to teachers at the ceremony, the idea for the garden had been kicking around the faculty for years, but work on the garden never started.

That changed after movie star Cameron Diaz filmed part of her movie Bad Teacher at Eliot.  Diaz is a supporter of the Environmental Media Association, an entertainment industry nonprofit that has installed 17 gardens at Los Angeles County schools, according to Debbie Levin, the nonprofit's president.

Diaz did not get to the ceremony on Wednesday, but Mehcad Brooks, who has appeared in the TV show True Blood and the movie Necessary Roughness, did show up to represent the nonprofit.

The garden beds are now ready to be planted, and each grade level at Eliot will have a lead teacher working on the project, according to science teacher Roger Gray.

The school will likely start a garden club, and teachers will also use the garden as a way to teach their lessons, Gray said.  For example, the sixth grade history curriculum is focused on early human agriculture and will be able to use the garden for demonstration, he said.  Seventh grade students learn life science, and the gardens can serve as an ideal learning lab.

The volunteer L.A. Conservation Corps also showed up on Wednesday for the ceremony and to plant citrus trees that will line the outside border of the new garden.

Besides the nonprofit's Debbie Levin and Mehcad Brooks, PUSD Superintendent Jon Gundry and Eliot principal Peter Pannell also spoke.

Pannell and Gundry honored volunteer parents, students and teachers who have already given hours of their time to helping build the beds and installing the drip irrigation system that will water the plants.

The garden was dedicated in honor of Eliot history teacher Stephen Scott Buck, who passed away in June of 2010.

Wednesday's outdoor ceremony ended somewhat abruptly when rain began to fall, but considering the recent dry spell, the wet weather should be nothing but good news for the garden.

Revvell February 15, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Laura Monteros February 16, 2012 at 03:21 AM
My junior high and high school both had huge gardens, and even FFA programs. I think they are so important for all the students (and at Eliot, all the students will see them; ours were tucked away at the back of the campuses). Especially, though, gardens give students one more option to keep them interested in school. I can't think of anyone more deserving of having a place that nurtures life named after him than Mr. Buck, who nurtured the intellectual lives of so many of our children. I miss seeing him around town.
navigio March 27, 2012 at 08:49 AM
I noticed that someone mentioned on another thread that Pannell is leaving. Anyone know whether it's true and/or why? Didn't he completely turn Eliot around?


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