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Cottage Grove High School 'Spirit Rock' brings students together in unity

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COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. - It's Unity Week at Cottage Grove High School, where students come together despite disagreements or differences.

But on Monday, several students at the school took it one step further.

The school has what they call a "Spirit Rock" right in front of the school. It's a giant rock, normally painted in school colors, meant to represent the whole school's spirit.

However, this week, the rock has a special purpose - a true symbol of unity.

To kick off this week's Unity Celebration, Chelsea Armstrong and her fellow classmates decided to spray paint the spirit rock in front of the school on Sunday.

"A group of students and I had the idea to spray paint the rock in the pride flag, because it represents unity to us," said Armstrong, student and Public Relations Manager of the Associated Student Body at Cottage Grove.

But overnight, other students at the school had another idea.

Armstrong said she saw the rock the following morning.

"Red, white and blue; it said 'Merica' on it, and it had 'Trump' written on the bottom," said Armstrong. "And to us, just because of the hard work we put into it, we were like, 'Oh, what is this, why did you guys do this?'"

Every inch of what Armstrong and her peers had painted on the rock the night prior was covered.

"My initial thought was, I was angry, I was distraught," Armstrong said. "I didn't know what to do."

She said she went to Principal Mike Ingman to see how the students could resolve the issue.

"You know, we had the group that painted the rock the second time might not have been a very good move," said Ingman.

"So trying to get that mindset away and realize, okay, unity," said Armstrong. "It's Unity Week; we want to focus on coming together and not splitting apart, not having this war over a rock."

The students' decision - to share the rock.

"When each of us have half the rock we each have our place in the school," Armstrong said. "So, we each kind of get our say in things and it unifies us as a whole instead of segregating us into two different groups."

The "Trump" writing in front of the rock was removed.

One half of the rock was covered in the American Flag colors, and the other side covered in Pride colors.

"I thought it could be very divisive, but as it turned out, it's just another great example of the students we have at Cottage Grove High School," said Ingman. "That we were able to bridge that gap was just really incredible."

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