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Palm Desert High School Mural Sparks Debate

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Palm Desert High School students sat chalking up the entrance to their school Wednesday afternoon.


"There's a chalk art contest at our school, and the winners get a free Chipotle lunch," Palm Desert High School junior Melissa Pearson said.


Students said they fervently believe art, in all its forms, belongs in and around a high school.


"It's a school; that's what we're supposed to be doing, making our school artistic and have history like it did before," Pearson said.

From their eyes, the writing is on the wall. The mural should stay.


Nearby residents don't all agree.


"That's kind of an eyesore, basically," Palm Desert resident John Stenmoen said.


"It didn't belong facing us. I think it should have been facing Fred Waring, where nobody would have been affected by it," Palm Desert resident Marvin Paul said.


"It's big. If you look at it, that's all you see, Aztec pride. Nothing against the school, it's just a large sign, kind of an eye sore," Stenmoen said.


One neighbor said she thinks "eyesore" is an unfair description.


"I wouldn't call it an eyesore. I would call it a Palm Desert Aztec sign," Palm Desert resident Gina Mae Nestande said. "I can think of other things that are eyesores, though. Trash cans left out on a street, that's an eye sore. Many of the neighbors do that."


Many residents in the community just west of Palm Desert High School fear the sign will lower the value of their homes. The Lantana Home Owners Association created a petition that about 150 neighbors signed.


"I hope it gets taken down, at least painted over," Stenmoen said.


The Palm Desert High School principal said students funded the sign, and it would cost a lot to repaint it.


"Our old school had murals all over the walls, no one complained about it. It made our school have culture," Pearson said.


The HOA is trying to draw attention to the issue. It hopes to put it on the next Desert Sands School District board meeting agenda.

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