Production of comedy farce ‘Play On!’ opens Feb. 17

BAYTOWN, TX — An energetic cast of students and talented special guests will perform in the Lee College Theatre production of the lighthearted comedic farce “Play On!,” set to premiere this Friday, Feb. 17, at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) on campus.

“Play On!” will begin at 7:30 p.m., in the PAC Black Box Theatre. Additional performances will be held at 7:30 p.m., nightly on Feb. 18, 24 and 25. Tickets for all four shows are available for purchase online at www.lee.edu/pac, or by calling the Box Office at 281.425.6255.

Written by Rick Abbot, “Play On!” begins as the local community theatre rehearses for their production of a new murder mystery called “Murder Most Foul.” The anxious cast members, backstage support and director Gerry feel under siege from the meddling amateur playwright, who agreed to let the company perform the show for no charge. Gerry thought producing the play would be a good idea but had no inkling of the disasters that awaited her – namely, an overwhelmingly sloppy and slapdash murder mystery with no real murder in the plot, a disgruntled cast and a playwright who deletes the entire sound effect board and keeps changing the story and script just two days before its premiere. All of these calamities come to fruition in Act III, when the company performs the actual show with hilarious mishaps and missteps at every turn.

Directed by guest artist Marc Anthony Glover with the production guidance of Lee College theater instructor Kim Martin, the “Play On!” cast includes students Samantha Duran, Abigail Vernier, Alexis Grusecki and Beth Powell. Alumnus Triston Haq also appears, along with special guests Susan Walker, Josh Figueroa, Bryan Rivera and Bailey Smith. Alex Musgrove will make her first local appearance in the show since returning to Baytown from New York City.

Chad Arrington and Alyssa Torres will be stage managers for the production, with Amy Miller Martin and Blaine Glover-Garcia serving as assistant directors. Rounding out the technical crew are Logan Romero, Gilbert Perez, Aria Giacona, Sonia Valdovinos, Josh Gonzales, Alyssa Carter and John Arrington.

The final Lee College Theatre production of the 2016-17 season will be William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which will debut at the PAC in late April. Open auditions for the play will be held Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 27-28. For more details about “Play On!” or the upcoming auditions, contact Martin at hmartin@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Glenn Miller Orchestra swinging into PAC in March

The Glenn Miller orchestra performs on stage. A band leader stands before brass, woodwinds, and a piano player.BAYTOWN, TX — The world-famous Glenn Miller Orchestra – known for the legendary dance bandleader who founded the beloved group and dominated the Swing Era of the 1930s and 1940s with a matchless string of hit records – will bring the classic sounds of big-band music to the Lee College Performing Arts Center (PAC) next month.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra will perform on the PAC main stage at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, March 5. Tickets are $20-40 and available for purchase online at http://www.lee.edu/pac, or by calling the Box Office at 281.425.6255.

First launched by Miller in March 1938, the orchestra is now an 18-member ensemble that continues to play many of his original arrangements. The group’s repertoire also includes modern selections arranged and performed in the iconic Miller style and sound, and music from the famed Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band that entertained servicemen in live concerts and radio shows during World War II. Fan favorites like “In the Mood,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” are all part of the regular program, along with lesser-known tunes like “The White Cliffs of Dover,” “Rainbow Rhapsody” and “Everybody Loves My Baby.”

In true big-band fashion, the Glenn Miller Orchestra is on the road longer and more continuously than any other in the world – covering more than 100,000 miles per year and working nearly every night for 48 weeks out of the year. The orchestra performs for more than 500,000 people annually, entertaining crowds throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, Asia and South and Central America. “Moonlight Serenade,” the beautiful theme of the orchestra in the 1940s that was composed by Miller himself, remains their signature tune today.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Weekend College gives working students time to pursue degree

Free information session on Feb. 23 will detail unique program that caters to adult learners

Two welders working on a project
Industrial Welding Technology is one of five degree program options that students can choose from in the Weekend College at Lee College, which is hosting a free information session on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, in the Rundell Hall Conference Center on campus. Additional program options include General Studies Transfer degrees in Allied Health and Social Science Concentration, Business Administration and Management and Computer and Network Maintenance Technology.

BAYTOWN, TX — As a mother of four working full time to support her family, Raquel Velazquez didn’t think she would ever be able to go back to school and earn the college degree she always wanted. Then she learned about the Weekend College at Lee College.

Through the Weekend College, students earn associate’s degrees in less than 2 years by attending classes only on Friday evenings and Saturdays. Funded through a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the program caters to adult learners and others who want to advance their careers but have to juggle school with work and other responsibilities.

The first of several free information sessions for prospective Weekend College students will be held from 7-8:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23,  in the Rundell Hall Conference Center on campus. Participants will hear from faculty, staff and current students about the five different program options – General Studies -Transfer in Allied Health, General Studies – Social Science Concentration, Business Administration and Management, Industrial Welding Technology and Computer and Network Maintenance Technology – and learn how to enroll in the program for the Fall 2017 semester. Information will be available in both English and Spanish, and refreshments will be provided.

Additional information sessions will be held March 4, April 13, May 21, June 10, July 18 and Aug. 2.

“It sounded like it was going to work for me,” said Velazquez, who picked up a flyer about the Weekend College while helping her daughter register for classes. She entered the program just as her son and daughter were getting started at Lee College and will be the first of them to graduate, earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Administration and Management in May.

Of the first cohort of students to enroll in the Weekend College in Fall 2015, fully 65 percent are expected to complete their degree programs within three years or less – significantly more than the state average of 12 percent.

Grant director Victoria Marron attributes the high success rate to the unique design of the Weekend College program. The same groups of 18-25 students are kept together from enrollment to graduation or transfer. Courses are offered at multiple Lee College locations to make them more convenient, and many are delivered in a hybrid format that blends online and classroom instruction. Block scheduling ensures students know exactly which courses to take and when they will be held, and Weekend College courses are never dropped or filled to capacity. Once accepted into the program, students will always have the classes they need for their degree.

Weekend College students work with a completion coach who helps them apply for the program, secure financial aid and conquer any challenges that arise while they are enrolled in school and even after graduation. They also receive personalized advising, financial assistance and round-the-clock tutoring as needed.

Initially “terrified” to return to school and unsure how she would make time for everything on her lengthy to-do list, Velazquez said she  now encourages others to consider the Weekend College. Having guaranteed classes and a cohort of classmates with whom she has forged strong connections make completing the program easier than she expected.

“Looking back on it, it just happens; time just flies and everything ends up working out,” Velazquez said. “What I tell people is that if I can find the time, you can find the time. If I can do it, you can do it. Ask questions, contact a counselor, get all the information you can and see if it’s a good fit for you.”

For more details about the Weekend College at Lee College or the upcoming information sessions, contact Completion Coach Jessica Falla at 281.425.6421 or Outreach and Recruitment Specialist Sharon Guillory at 832.556.5776, or visit www.lee.edu/weekend.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College to celebrate Black History Month with free events throughout February

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College will celebrate Black History Month throughout February with a variety of free campus events that showcase and explore the myriad ways in which African-American culture and contributions have shaped and influenced the country.

Sponsored by International Education and the Reaching Excellence Against Limitations (R.E.A.L.) student organization, all Black History Month events are open to the public:

Tuesday, Feb. 7 – Opening Reception

Black History Month festivities will begin with an opening reception from 2-4 p.m., in the Lee College Library. Attendees will hear from guest speakers, enjoy a display of work from African-American artists and more.

Wednesday, Feb. 15 – Movie Screening: “13th”

The college will host a screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary “13th” from noon-1:30 p.m., at the Rundell Hall Conference Center.

Directed by Ava DuVernay of “Selma” and “Middle of Nowhere” acclaim, the film examines how abolishing slavery through the 13th Amendment to the Constitution did little to quell racial inequality in the United States, where black Americans have had to face Jim Crow laws and continued mass incarceration by the criminal justice system.

Monday, Feb. 20 – Read-In

Faculty, staff and students will bring the words of African-American authors to life in a read-in scheduled for 3-4 p.m, in Edythe Old Studio. Readers will share passages from both literature and poetry.

Wednesday, Feb. 22 – “Did You Know?” Tribute to Great African-Americans

Lesser-known African-American heroes will be spotlighted in “Did You Know,” a theatrical tribute set for 5:30 p.m., in Tucker Hall, that will include live re-enactments of great moments in black history.

The show will feature Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all-white school in the American South; Robert Smalls, a former slave who escaped to freedom and later became a sea captain, businessman and politician in the South Carolina legislature; Noble Drew Ali, founder of the Moorish Science Temple of America; Miriam Makeba, a South African singer and civil rights activist known for denouncing apartheid and campaigning for the end of the oppressive policy on the world stage; and the Soledad Brothers, three young men who were falsely accused and later acquitted of murdering a white prison guard in the 1970s.

Tuesday, Feb. 28 – Movie Screening: “Thomlinson Hill”

The Black History Month celebration will end with a screening of the documentary “Thomlinson Hill” from 2-4 p.m., in Edythe Old Studio.

Set in Marlin, the film takes it name from the Texas slave plantation that was once the defining landmark of the region. The story focuses on a pair of descendants — Loreane Tomlinson, who is black, and Chris Tomlinson, who is white — who return to find a crumbling community still divided along class lines and on the verge of either economic revival or ruin.

For more information about Black History Month events at Lee College, contact Nader Naderi, chairman of International Education, at nnaderi@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

More than 900 ‘Pack The House,’ ‘Rock The Red’ for Runnin’ Rebels

"Pack the House," "Rock the Red" game at Lee College
Rooty the Rebel runs along the sideline to pep up the crowd as the Runnin’ Rebels take on the Angelina College Roadrunners in the “Pack The House, Rock The Red” game held Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Lee College Sports Arena. More than 900 fans turned out for the game, which was promoted as a joint effort between the college and city of Baytown. (Photo: Sheree Cardwell, Baytown Tourism)

BAYTOWN, TX — What started as a joint effort between Lee College and the city of Baytown to pack the house for Runnin’ Rebels Basketball ended last weekend with more than 900 fans rocking their red and filling the Sports Arena to cheer on the team against a conference opponent.

Along with the action on the court between the Runnin’ Rebels and the Angelina College Roadrunners, fans at the first-ever “Pack The House, Rock The Red” game enjoyed a lively atmosphere that included games, contests, music, raffle giveaways and the chance to sink a half-court shot for a $500 prize. All attendees aged 18 and under received free entry into the game, as did anyone who brought two canned goods to contribute to the team’s ongoing drive to feed the hungry in the local community. Attendees aged 19 and older received discounted $2 entry for wearing red.

Head Coach Roy Champagne thanked Kevin Troller, assistant city manager for the city of Baytown, for envisioning and promoting the campaign to sell out the Sports Arena in support of Lee College basketball.

“He simply was a fan that felt we had a good product in a great venue,” said Champagne, who has coached the Runnin’ Rebels for more than two decades and made it a priority for his athletes to give back to and connect with the community. The team has completed more than 530 hours of community service since August 2016 and donated thousands of canned goods to local food pantries.

“Our fan base has grown over the last four years,” Champagne said. “Hopefully, many of the fans that came out to ‘Rock The Red’ will decide to attend more frequently.”

Next up, the Runnin’ Rebels will hit the road for an away game against Jacksonville College before returning to the Sports Arena Wednesday, Feb. 8, to take on Blinn College. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

A full schedule for the 2016-17 basketball season and a team roster are available online at www.lee.edu/athletics/basketball.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College hosts traveling career fair for nearly 300 middle & high school students

BAYTOWN, TX – Nearly 300 middle and high school students from throughout the Houston region recently gathered at Lee College for the College and Career Roadshow, a unique one-day conference where students were encouraged to share their dreams for the future and given tools to start making those dreams a reality.

Students participate in an icebreaker at the College and Career Roadshow at Lee College.
Facilitators with leadership training company Paradigm Shift lead students through an icebreaker activity Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, at the College and Career Roadshow hosted at Lee College. Nearly 300 students from across the Houston region gathered on campus for the one-day traveling conference, which focuses on preparing middle and high school students for college and career success.

Presented by leadership training and development company Paradigm Shift and its partners, the roadshow is a traveling college and career fair that includes everything from motivational speakers and success seminars to ACT college readiness exam prep sessions, team-building activities, business leadership panels and interview and resume workshops. Students also had the opportunity to take a campus tour and learn more about all that Lee College has to offer.

After starting their day with games and icebreakers at the Performing Arts Center, the students were divided into two groups according to grade level and taken through workshops and panel discussions to explore what it means to be a leader; how to succeed in college and build a career; how to identify and set goals for the future; how to ace the ACT; and more.

“Our main goal is to get students excited and prepared for post-secondary education or careers,” said Rachel Mayo, conferences and special event coordinator for Paradigm Shift. “We want students who might not otherwise get this kind of opportunity to know they’re not limited in what they can do. The students love it; our facilitators do a great job of making it a safe space to feel, share and learn.”

Students traveled from as far away as Galveston and beyond to attend the roadshow at Lee College. To make the event more accessible for students in the college service area, the Student and Career Employment Office worked with the Lee College Foundation and Patients ER to provide scholarships to about 100 local youths.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Runnin’ Rebels hometown duo hopes to play basketball at NCAA Division I level

BAYTOWN, TX – As Baytown natives who grew up playing in local youth basketball leagues and thrilling fans on the court as Goose Creek Memorial High School Patriots, Lee College Runnin’ Rebel Basketball teammates Javonte Cooper and Julian Powell can easily find common ground with the children they meet and mentor in the community.

“These little kids come from the same place and see themselves growing up to be us, and we can see ourselves in them,” said Cooper, who relished the challenge of playing football at Goose Creek Memorial but always had a natural talent for basketball that led him to Lee College. “I tell them to be better than me. Stay on top of your grades and sports will take care of themselves.”

Powell, who rode motorcycles and dirt bikes as a child before trading boots for basketball shoes, shares similar advice with his siblings and the other young people who look up to him: “Learn as much as you can. You can achieve your goals if you put your mind to it.”

Now in their redshirt sophomore seasons with the Runnin’ Rebels, Cooper and Powell are looking forward to reaching their own goal of advancing their basketball careers at an NCAA Division I college or university. Both have battled to earn playing time on a talented team and mastered the more complicated schemes and game plans used at the collegiate level.

Their hard work will be on display this Saturday, Jan. 28, when the Runnin’ Rebels take on Angelina College at the Sports Arena on campus. The team is hoping fans will “Pack the House” and “Rock the Red” for the game, filling the 1,500-seat arena and helping collect thousands of canned goods to feed the hungry in the local community. All fans 18 and under will receive free entry, along with anyone who brings two canned goods. Fans aged 19 and older that wear red will pay $2, while those who do not wear red will pay $5. Tip off is at 6 p.m.

Moving on to a bigger and better basketball program will likely also mean moving away from Baytown, where Cooper and Powell have been able to enjoy the comforts of home and familiar surroundings while adjusting to the rigors of life as a college student-athlete. In addition to a full slate of classes, practices and games, the Runnin’ Rebels have completed more than 530 hours of service to the local community since August. Cooper is also a founding member and president of Reaching Excellence Against Limitations (R.E.A.L.), a student organization that aims to educate and empower black males on campus.

“Playing for Lee College helps me look out for my mom and brothers,” Cooper said. “I’m not long distance so I can reach out and get to them if they need me.”

But creating a brighter future for their families is also why chasing the dream of a professional basketball career is so important.

“My family keeps me motivated,” Powell said. “I want to take care of them.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.