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Earning Extra Credits

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The sign outside the high school in Snoqualamie Valley (Wash.) School District No. 410 reads "Mount Si High School." But to millions of viewers of television's audacious and eerie new series, it reads "Twin Peaks High School."

David Lynch, the show's director, chose Mount Si to film the school scenes in the two-hour pilot show that introduced the mystery-cum-soap opera to viewers this spring.

Mr. Lynch and his staff walked through the building about 14 months ago, says Barbara Harkey, the school's vice principal, and were immediately taken with the building.

"We have a very, very old building, and they kept saying over and over, 'This is perfect,"' she recalls. "And it was perfect for them."

To set the scene, the crew even went to the trouble of making an exact duplicate of the school's sign, changing only the name.

A casting call went out, and not surprisingly, there was little trouble in attracting students to play extras in several school scenes.

"When word got around that a movie was going to be filmed here," Ms. Harkey recalls, "the students showed up in droves."

The crew interviewed students and chose a number of them to appear as extras during the filming. Students were told that they would have to give up some weekends for the filming and that they definitely would not miss any school.

"Our major concern was that the students not have their education interrupted," Ms. Harkey says.

But when the crew arrived to shoot the scene on March 1, 1989, they found 17 inches of new snow on the ground. The storm closed the school and canceled a proposed scene on the football field. But filming went ahead on a crucial scene in which students learn that their classmate, Laura Palmer--a prom queen with some decidedly unsavory secrets--has been found murdered.

The one scene--a long, painful look at the shock and horror of Laura's classmates (some of whom have their own secrets) took an entire day to film, Ms. Harkey says, as the director ordered numerous retakes. The crew returned that weekend to shoot hallway scenes, and again this spring to shoot some film to promote the series.

The school's 800-plus students have been avidly following the show, she says. "The burning question last fall was not when the new principal was going to come, but when 'Twin Peaks' was going to show."

And what of Laura Palmer, whose reputation deteriorates with each week's episode?

"Oh no, not to my knowledge. There definitely is no Laura Palmer here,'' Ms. Harkey says.--gb

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