PTA Gift Helps Center Street Garden Blossom


Party on March 7 at 3:00PM Welcomes Guests

 to Triple-Sized Cougar Patch

            El Segundo, CA Spring is just around the corner, but new growth is already happening at Center Street School. Thanks to a generous PTA donation, the Cougar Patch Garden is expanding to three times its previous size and will now measure 50’ x 75’.  On Thursday, March 7 from 3:00-4:00pm, the community is invited to celebrate the opening of the new green space with a small garden party, scavenger hunt and ladybug release ceremony.

The new Cougar Patch features a plot bed for each of the school’s 28 classes, each watered with an efficient drip system. A decomposed granite pathway invites visitors to wind their way through the garden beds and solar-powered fountains to appreciate the produce, the flora and some whimsical metal sculptures. Fruit trees line one side of the garden, while guava, strawberry and blueberry bushes can be found throughout the grounds. A set of picnic benches creates a comfortable space for students and their volunteer docents to sit, talk and enjoy the bounty of their efforts. Three generously sized compost bins will turn the school’s lunchtime fruit and vegetable waste into rich fertilizer for the garden.

“It’s a fabulous gift to our school, like a dream come true. It’s a place where students can experience hands-on learning about science and math in a natural setting,” says Marisa Janicek, principal of Center Street School.  “We are so grateful for the generous donation of funds from the PTA, and also for the countless hours our Cougar Patch Garden Docents spend tending to the plantings and teaching our students every step of the way.”

The original Cougar Patch was built over five years ago courtesy of a grant from Kiwanis. In 2011, NRG funded the installation of rain barrels for water collection in the garden. Over the years, the Cougar Patch has allowed hundreds of students and volunteer docents to raise crops that include carrots, radishes, squash, zucchini, and many other varieties of plants. “We are so fortunate because the garden allows the students to harvest and eat food they have planted themselves. It is wonderful to see a classroom of children tasting new foods they might not have experienced before, and then eagerly asking for second and third helpings of a salad they have grown with their own handiwork,” says Cathy Hudspeth-Shearon, PTA Committee Chairperson for the Cougar Patch.

“It’s absolutely incredible for the students to plant seeds and watch them grow, as it is for us teachers to watch our students learn and blossom with this kind of educational experience,” says 4th grade teacher Christine Van Duzer.

Center Street School is one of two elementary schools in the El Segundo Unified School District. The ESUSD is dedicated to providing students and the community with an optimum learning environment that prepares educated, productive, compassionate citizens to meet the challenges of a global society in the 21st century. For more information, please contact Principal Janicek at 310.615.2676 or visit


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