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Prank to get airtime on MTV

Citrus High School students recreate the night before the big game against Crystal River High for the cable music channel.

By COLLEEN JENKINS
Published June 26, 2004

Local officials brushed them off, but MTV producers still found a way to get last year's homecoming prank involving Citrus and Crystal River high schools on the tube.

For the past week, about a dozen Citrus High School students have been commuting to a South Tampa high school to re-enact for the cable music channel the planning, executing and gossiping that surrounded a high school shenanigan on the eve of the county's biggest annual football game last September.

Five Citrus High students, including football standouts Casey Snyder and Steve Strong, were stopped by police after a sheriff's deputy spotted them shooting paintballs at Crystal River High homecoming floats just before 2 a.m. on a Thursday.

MTV officials read accounts of the incident on the Internet and wanted to feature the students and incident on a segment as part of the channel's High School Stories, a series that aims to recreate the silly antics of students around the country.

But the schools' principals and county officials weren't interested in letting an MTV crew film on their campuses or at a local library.

So, according to students who participated, Remote Productions Inc., the company handling the project for MTV, found a willing school elsewhere.

Since Tuesday, Citrus High students have been driving to Tampa Robinson High School to film scenes and get a dose of the actor's life.

"We had to do scenes over and over and over again," said Sarah Beguiristain, who recently graduated from Citrus High. "It's not all fun and games."

Those scenes included moments in the classroom or school hallways, where the students threw paper airplanes and laid their plans.

A handful of the students filmed through the night and early morning hours Wednesday to re-enact the actual incident. They climbed over fences and crawled through bleachers, said former Citrus High student Liz Meek, changing some of the details because of the different surroundings.

They carried spray paint and rolls of toilet paper. They painted their faces and wore the same camouflage clothes they had donned that September night, hoping to stay out of authorities' sight.

"It was hilarious," Meek said.

In real life, their plan didn't go quite as smoothly. Though several girls and a couple guys got away from Crystal River High's campus before the paintballs started flying, there was trouble for the five who got caught.

No one was arrested, but Snyder and Strong each had to sit out their big game and were suspended from school for five days.

"If I could go back to the day, I wouldn't have done it," Snyder said Friday as he headed home from the taping.

Still, he admitted the re-enactment was fun, sort of a minireunion among friends who now have bid high school goodbye. MTV even recruited a few Crystal River High students to build another float for the shoot, Meek said.

Citrus County wasn't left out of the picture entirely. Earlier in the week, the MTV crew spent a few days talking to local teenagers from the rival high schools at their houses and Whispering Pines Park.

MTV spokeswoman Jennifer DeGuzman said the channel hadn't yet decided when the segment will run. The teenagers said they were told it should air sometime this fall.

By that time, many of those who participated in the taping will be off to college.

"We're all going to come back to town and watch it together," Beguiristain said.

- Colleen Jenkins can be reached at 860-7303 or cjenkins@sptimes.com

[Last modified June 26, 2004, 01:23:35]

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