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Largo Student, 10, Appears in Pinellas History Video

Maya Kahli, a student at Ridgecrest Elementary, participated in a video that will be used to teach fourth-graders about north Pinellas County history.

A tree in Crystal Beach, East Lake's Boot Ranch Shopping Center and a building in Old Downtown Palm Harbor all have something unique in common.

They are locations where Countryside High students recently taped scenes for a video that's being used by Pinellas County elementary school teachers to teach Pinellas County fourth-graders about North Pinellas county history. And a 10-year-old Largo student is playing a starring role.

As part of the plot, a group of fourth-grade kids participate in a scavenger hunt that leads them to different North Pinellas county locations and learn historical facts about them. Maya Kahli, 10, a student at Ridgecrest Elementary in Largo, participated in the video shoot, along with Palm Harbor Middle students Elyssa Warner, and Haylee Unger, ages 11. 

The Crystal Beach segment of the video focusses on WWII history and a very tall slash pine tree. The tree was used as an observation post during the war. Residents took turns climbing the tree to watch for enemy activity in the Gulf of Mexico. If activity was seen, residents radioed to military stationed at Egmont Key, letting them know they should mobilize. 

"It shows how Americans came together during the war. Everyone did their part," said WWII reenactor John Thomas, 50, who traveled to Crystal Beach from Bradenton to participate in the shoot with fellow reenactor Mike Hochleutner, 25.

The Crystal Beach video shoot attracted a crowd of onlookers. Libby and Jack Burke, who live in Palm Harbor, brought their 6-year-old granddaughter, Kennedy Cusak. The trio watched the action from their lawn chairs.

Historian Terry Fortner, of Palm Harbor, was excited about the video shoot. "It's nice because it gives attention to historic landmarks in Pinellas County," she said as the 170-year-old slash pine towered above her.

The students also taped at the Witch's Brew in Old Downtown Palm Harbor and spoke with owner Lesley Klein about the building's history.

Palm Harbor resident and Countryside High TV and film production teacher Carl Zimmermann supervised the video shoot. Countryside students Sarah EllenwoodCaitlyn Lightle and Katie Bessell, ages 17, handled production duties during the shoot.

Volunteers with the Palm Harbor Historical Society helped the students with historical aspects of the video.

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