CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Fairfield Griffin Bow Tie Club traveled to Charlotte on Saturday with 62 young men touring the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts.
The outing was part of the group’s focus on the five wells of leadership expounded by Benjamin E. Mayes, that to become leaders young men should be well-dressed, well-spoken, well-balanced, well-read and well-traveled.
The trip included a visit to NASCAR’s 150,000-square-foot Hall of Fame where students engaged in hands-on activities such as pit crew simulations and race car driving video games and simulations.
Along the way, they learned about the history of motorsports and about automotive safety and engineering practices such as using templates to construct cars to NASCAR standards. To show them balance and culture, as well as sport popular culture, students went into the Harvey B. Gantt Center to view an exhibit of art by African Americans and those of African descent.
The young men also saw a Question Bridge Exhibit where they watched a series of video clips by speakers who discussed aspects of being a black male in the United States, both historically and in present day.
Lunch time and the bus ride home gave the youth time for fellowship and socializing but also allowed them an opportunity to reflect on the exhibits with their mentors.
In earlier meetings, members of the Bow Tie Club have watched videos, read poetry and received instruction in oration. Other outings are planned for the young men in the coming year.
The group is all male, so as Superintendent J.R. Green said, they feel free to have conversations about growing into manhood and all that entails without feeling the need to hold back from sharing or asking questions because girls were present.
The Griffin Bow Tie Club currently is for seventh-grade and eighth-grade students, though there are plans to extend parts of it to Fairfield Central High School. All boys in the club, as well as mentors, must learn to tie a black and gold bow tie, a tie worn when the club meets at Fairfield Middle School on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month.
In addition to those lunch time meetings with the young men, the group meets one Saturday per month. More volunteers are welcome, according to parent and group co-organizer Tony Armstrong. Men in the area interested in becoming mentors should contact Green at 803-635-4607.