EL CAJON, Calif. — For years, an English teacher at Granite Hills High School has empowered students to make their campus a happy place for all. In this Zevely Zone, I went to El Cajon to visit the front lines of the Battle of the Beige.
Teacher Tracey Brewer is an unsung hero who says beige is not very interesting. If you walk the halls of Granite Hills High, you'll see a lot of beige concrete walls. "There is a lot of concrete as you've noticed," said Ms. Brewer. You'd never know from talking to her, but Ms. Brewer has quietly convinced her students to beautify the campus and wants credit for none of it. "That is entirely my personality," said Ms. Brewer.
Her mother emailed me to convey Tracey needs to be in the Zevely Zone for her special dedication to her students. "That is totally my mom, yes, whereas if it were me, I would say my kids totally need to be in the Zevely Zone," said Ms. Brewer.
Students like Ember Cooper, Marni Fullington, and Finley White from the Street Art Club. "We spent more than time we needed to on this mural," said Ember. In the month of April, a large wall went from beige to beautiful. "It used to be just plain brick, yeah just plain brick and this whole area was really dirty because students weren't taking care of it very well," said Marni and Fullington.
Speaking of color, Ms. Brewer may have mentioned the need for a little green.
Students started planting trees; 41 of them. "She has definitely taught me to cherish and love our planet," said Grace Gosnell. She and Austin Holt are National Honor Students. They are leading a project to transform an ugly weed patch into a Calming Garden for special education students. "It feels good, we are just trying to make the community better, the school better in any way we can," said Austin. Grace then added, "It feels good, I think ever since I've been here as a freshman it's always been inclusive."
I met a few of the students who will enjoy the garden. "I'm Vanessa," said Vanessa Segovia. "I want to make it into a jungle," said Brady Shea. The students are excited to have their own special space. "Maybe read a book and relax, maybe lay down grass," said Marabel Botany.
Ms. Brewer and her helpers want to put the community to work as well with donations. The students are asking for money, lumber, whiskey barrels, picnic tables, shovels, gloves and a shed. Behind it all, Ms. Brewer is quietly pulling strings and students together.
"I love Ms. Brewer," said Ember. "She doesn't want to take any credit for this project," said teacher Kyndel Ross. "I hope everyone is telling Ms. Brewer how much we love her because she did a lot. She deserves the credit. It's true," said Marni and Finley.
One could only hope, the Battle of the Beige ends with a victory dance. "Ha, ha, I can't dance," said Ms. Brewer.
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