By LEE J. KAHRS
Messenger Staff Writer
FAIRFAX -- The lights dimmed in the Bellows Free Academy-Fairfax gymnasium. Eerie music sounded as a mirror ball cast colored lights on the walls and fog surrounded the huge clock face at center stage. BFA founder Hiram Bellows himself appeared from the past, stepping out of a strange, futuristic bubble car, bent with old age, his gray suit straight out of 1903.
Bellows, played by BFA-Fairfax Principal Scott Lang, was the guest of honor Tuesday at the kickoff for middle school students of the 100th anniversary celebration of BFA-Fairfax.
With Associate Principal Tom Walsh serving as master of ceremonies, 26 middle school teachers took turns performing short skits to describe a series of workshops students will participate in over the next two weeks.
The 15 workshops, or units, will cover a range of topics designed to help students learn more about the history of BFA-Fairfax, the town of Fairfax, and the changes that have taken place in culture and society over the last 100 years.
With titles like "100 years of Gadgets and Gizmos" and "Edibles and Quaffables," students will have the opportunity to not only learn within the classroom, but outside the school.
In "History Through Our Ears," students will work in teams to interview BFA-Fairfax alumni and listen to their stories about growing up in Fairfax in a different time. Students will tape record the interviews and photograph the alumni, ultimately documenting the interviews through photo exhibits, timelines and creative writing.
On Nov. 21, the workshops will culminate in another event where students will present what they've learned to the rest of the school.
The event Tuesday was the result of a tremendous effort on the part of the faculty and administration and the students seemed to truly enjoy the show.
And what of that strange, silent, bubble car circling the gym as it picked up and dropped off the teachers for their skits? It was an electric car the school acquired in July as part of a grant through the manufacturer, Daimler-Chrysler.
Lang said the manufacturer gave away 1,000 of the environmentally-friendly vehicles to various institutions across the country through a grant process and BFA-Fairfax was one of the fortunate schools.
The principal said the centennial kickoff event was the first time the school had really used the car and that he expects the school to use the vehicle for other big events, such as graduation.
Lang said the school hopes to use the car for transporting disabled and elderly patrons for such events. He also said the car serves as an educational tool for students to study alternate forms of power.