It was, as school officials wearily admit, just one more sign that spring is here and graduation is just around the corner. Okay, fine. But the question remains?

How did Guru and Co. get a wrecked, yellow and black Volkswagen bug on the roof of Quander Hall at Fairfax County's Groveton High?

Well, the story begins several weeks ago, with a group of Groveton senior honors physics students.

"Everybody pulls senior pranks," said the proud guru, Brook Sullivan, an 18-year-old headed for MIT next year to study mechanical engineering. "We wanted to be creative and put our physics to work."

Indeed, they had some hard acts to follow. The class of 1976 had stolen a Ronald MacDonald statute. The seniors of '79 one-upped them, liberating a Bob's Big Boy from the Springfield fast-food franchise and mounting it on Groveton's roof.

And even Guru and Co. had earlier this year rigged a system of pullies over the school's three flagpoles, depositing 22 tires on one of them, 16 on another.

"It was so funny watching the janitors try and figure out how to pull them off. They had the fire department and everything out here," said co-conspirator Jimmie Koher, an Eagle Scout who will attend Notre Dame in the fall.

But the Guru needed something bigger.

Then one day they were walking across the ten foot "Class of 80" painted in white on the street outside of Quander Hall. The Guru had a vision: "He said, 'What if we put a Volkswagon out there on the roof,'" Koher recalled.

"Then the ideas started flowing. Buzzzzzzzzz!," Koher said.

The seniors went to a benevolent junkyard owner. "He thought we were crazy at first," said Guru, but a deal was struck and for $1, the seniors were given a rotten chassis and the run of the yard. They pulled a hood off of one car, a trunk off another, found fenders and a door and bolted and wired it all together. There is no engine or interior, but, as the Guru said, "We didn't want luxury. We wanted impact."

One day two weeks ago, Koher, Guru and several others skipped 6th period to paint what they have come to refer to as "Groveton's only science fair project, engineering."

"We were looking for a can of Obnoxious Yellow, but we couldn't find any paint with that name." They settled on K-mart's flat Spectra Yellow, retail $12.96 a gallon.

Then a week ago Monday, under cover of darkness, the Volkswagen was placed in position. Hanging over the driver's side, where the door would have been if they could have found one, was the sign:

And the Lord looked down on Groveton and he saw the halls were rife with apathy and he was not pleased! So the Lord did come to the seniors in the form of a keg. Thence did the Lord lead them to the vehicle of devine (sic) intervention. He spake, "Take thou this vehicle as a sign of your dedication to the paw."

And it was done.

And it was good.

Damn good.

Officially, school administrators throughout Northern Virginia are known to frown on such pranks. But every year about this time, as graduation nears, school officials seem to heave a collective sigh as they brace themselves for senior stunts. Some even send up a few small prayers that the stunts, regardless of how irritating, will at least be harmless and cause no damage that can't be quickly repaired.

"If I could predict when we might have a senior prank, then I'd spend my entire day at the race track," laughed Richard Johnson, principal of J. E. B. Stuart High School in Fairfax County. "We really haven't had anything significant in the last four or five years, but we still hold our breaths and pray nothing happens.

"It's a period when seniors let off a lot of steam and I guess that within reason some of things the seniors do are understandable as long as they don't damage anyone's property or injure someone."

At Groveton, the administration seemed unconcerned about what Principal R. Don Ford called "one of the perennial senior pranks. This one was rather harmless, there was no damage of property involved. I thought it was all in all a cutsie kind of prank."

Last Tuesday morning, Guru and Co. were called into Ford's office and told to remove the vehicle by the next day. "They seemed so proud of themselves," said secretary Ferebee Lewis.

Oh. They used a 20-foot front loader to get the bug on the roof.

"I don't think the guy who helped us wants to be in the paper," said Koher. $