Almost 3,000 students, former graduates and faculty members turned out to celebrate Fairfax High School's 50th homecoming last weekend, which featured special dinners, dances, a parade, tailgate parties and a football game.

The weekend kicked off with a lavish reception for 200 former faculty members on Oct. 4 at Westwood Country Club in Vienna. The next morning thousands of students, graduates and teachers lined the streets in downtown Fairfax City to watch the traditional homecoming parade with its marching bands and bright floats.

In the afternoon, the school's parking lot was jammed with tailgate parties for former graduates and families before the big football game against Thomas Jefferson High School. Fairfax suffered a disappointing loss of 36 to 8 in front of a near capacity crowd in the school's 6,000-seat stadium.

"I'm trying to block out the game, but the overall weekend was quite successful," said Sue Murray, a school guidance counselor and one of the weekend's organizers.

The first graduating class of 1936 at Fairfax High consisted of 47 students. Since then, almost 13,000 students have gone through the school, which moved to its present quarters in 1971. The school used to be housed in what is now Paul VI High School.

In conjunction with homecoming, students studied the school's 50-year history with special projects and a week-long seminar program given by citizens who discussed American history from 1935 through 1985.

Miller said the guests invited for the daily discussions included a Holocaust survivor who talked about her post-World War II experiences, a museum director who discussed trends in the arts during the high school's 50 years and a retired Air Force chaplain who talked about growing up in the Depression.

"The students looked at the problems of 1935 and looked at the problems of today and, hopefully, learned from that so history won't repeat itself," Miller said.