Hilarious musical comedy ‘The Addams Family’ opens Thursday

BAYTOWN, TX — They’re creepy, kooky and all together ooky — and they’re coming to the Lee College Performing Arts Center (PAC) this week as daughter Wednesday grows up and finds love in the hilarious new Broadway musical comedy, “The Addams Family.”

The Lee College production of “The Addams Family” will debut on the PAC main stage at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 3. Additional performances will be held at 7:30 nightly Friday and Saturday, March 4-5, with a matinee set for 2:30 p.m., Sunday, March 6.

Tickets for the show are $15 for the general public; $10 for college students, faculty and staff; and $5 for children aged 10 years old and younger. Purchase tickets online at www.lee.edu/pac, or by calling the Box Office at 281.425.6255.

“The Addams Family” musical follows the morbid and macabre characters made popular in the 1960s television series and nostalgically revived in two 1990s movies: parents Gomez and Morticia, children Wednesday and Pugsley, beloved Uncle Fester, fortune-telling Grandma and loyal butler Lurch. The curtain rises on their annual gathering in the family graveyard, where their dead ancestors emerge from the tombs each year to celebrate the enduring spirit and continuity of the Addams clan.

Wednesday, now 18, has fallen in love with Lucas Beineke — a young man from Ohio whose Middle American background is a stark contrast to the Addams’ dark and ghoulish roots, much to Gomez and Morticia’s consternation. Wednesday and Lucas want to get married but won’t make it down the aisle unless their families find common ground over a less-than-normal dinner at the Addams mansion.

“The Addams Family” at Lee College is under the direction of Visual and Performing Arts Division faculty Kim Martin, John Weinel and Ken Booker.

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 center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Educate Texas gives $750K for STEM degree accelerator

College to lead regional consortium focused on preparing students for petrochemical sector

BAYTOWN – Lee College has been awarded a $750,000 grant from Educate Texas to lead a regional consortium that aims to increase the number of underrepresented students earning science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) credentials and entering the petrochemical workforce.

Posed shot with donation check
Parties involved in the Gulf Coast consortium of the Texas Regional STEM Degree Accelerator initiative gathered in Houston on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, to announce the grant award from Educate Texas. Pictured (left to right): Woody Paul, ExxonMobil; Debi Jordan, Lee College; Christy Ponce, Lee College; Peter Beard, Greater Houston Partnership; Allatia Harris, San Jacinto College; Dennis Brown, President, Lee College; Craig Beskid, East Harris County Manufacturers Association; Carolyn Watson, Global Philanthropy / JPMorgan Chase; Richard McKeon, Helmsley Charitable Trust; Angela Oriano, Lee College; Ann Pham, Houston-Galveston Area Council; Melissa Duarte, Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District; and Mike Krall, Lone Star College.

Lee College is one of only five institutions of higher education in Texas selected to receive grant funds for the Texas Regional STEM Degree Accelerator initiative. Each recipient convened a regional consortium that includes two-year colleges, four-year colleges, K-12 partners and workforce partners.

Consortium members have examined regional workforce data, identified the STEM pathways in which they plan to work and begun engaging faculty and workforce partners to achieve two goals: redesigning gateway courses in STEM majors to ensure alignment with workforce needs in the petrochemical industry, and providing professional development for faculty to improve teaching and learning in STEM fields.

“Lee College is privileged to serve as the Gulf Coast lead for the Texas STEM Accelerator Grant,” said Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown, noting the importance of coordinated efforts to close the middle-skills gap in the region. “We have to strengthen the education to workforce pipeline through collaboration, but more importantly, through innovation. By bringing all partners — secondary and post-secondary educators, business and industry, workforce boards and others — we are more likely to build strong models that are replicable, scalable and sustainable.”

The STEM Accelerator project is developed in accordance with priorities for education and workforce outlined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Workforce Commission. The grant is funded through the Helmsley Charitable Trust, Greater Texas Foundation, Council for Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development (CREEED,) JPMorgan Chase and the W.W. Caruth, Jr., Foundation. It is the first time the Helmsley Trust has ever funded a project outside New York State.

“The Texas Regional STEM Degree Accelerator motivates our education and workforce partners to collaborate at a regional level to develop and refine STEM pathways,” said John Fitzpatrick, executive director of Educate Texas. “These pathways will result in an increased number of students across the state earning STEM degrees that meet regionally-identified workforce needs. We are proud to be working with a strong public-private coalition of national and state foundations, corporations, local business groups and the state of Texas on this pioneering initiative.”

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 center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Asleep at the Wheel returns to Lee’s PAC on Feb. 27

When Asleep at the Wheel first played at Lee College four years ago, a sold-out crowd packed into the Performing Arts Center (PAC) to hear their Grammy Award-winning, critically acclaimed take on the classic western swing style born in Texas.

Asleep at the WheelWith a second show set for 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 27 — and a set list featuring new songs inspired by western swing originators Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys — Asleep at the Wheel is hoping to repeat its PAC success. Tickets are $45-65 and available for purchase online at www.lee.edu/pac, or by calling the Box Office at 281.425.6255. Act quickly, as seats are filling fast.

It all started for Asleep at the Wheel when Ray Benson, Floyd Domino and Lucky Oceans — along with Vermont farm boy Leroy Preston, Chris O’Connell of Virginia and Gene Dobkin, a bass player and Benson’s classmate from Antioch College in Ohio — joined forces in West Virginia. They began with a simple goal: to play and help revive American roots music.

In 1970, the band landed a gig opening for Alice Cooper and Hot Tuna in Washington, D.C., at the height of Vietnam, when many Americans were using their choice of music to express their stance on the conflict.

“We wanted to break that mold,” said front man Benson, who received the Texas Medal of the Arts in 2011. “We were concerned more with this amazing roots music, which we felt was being lost amid the politics. We were too country for the rock folks, and we were too long-haired for the country folks. But everybody got over it once the music started playing.”

Since their inception 45 years ago, Asleep at the Wheel has won nine Grammy awards, released more than 25 studio and live albums, and charted more than 20 singles on the Billboard country charts. They’ve criss-crossed Texas, gotten their kicks on Route 66, collaborated with everyone from The Avett Brothers and Old Crow Medicine Show to Willie Nelson and George Strait, and been lauded by Reuters as “one of the best live acts in the business.”

“It’s been an amazing ride. From Paw Paw to San Francisco to Austin, we’ve seen it all,” Benson said. “But, rest assured, there is still so many exciting projects in the works …The Wheel keeps rolling!”

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 office in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee, community celebrate McNair Center expansion

BAYTOWN, TX — The Lee College McNair Center now has an additional 50,000 square feet of instructional space where students will receive hands-on technical training with the latest technology to prepare for high-paying careers in the growing petrochemical and construction industries.

McNair Ribbon-Cutting
Photo by ©Kim Christensen
Lee College celebrated this month the grand opening of the newly expanded McNair Center, where students will receive hands-on instruction for well-paying petrochemical and construction careers. Pictured (l-r): Regent Keith Coburn, Regent Susan Moore-Fontenot, Regent Pete Alfaro, Regent Ronn Haddox, Regent Judy Jirrels, Regent Weston Cotten, Regent Wayne Gray and Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown.

More than 100 community members, elected officials and industry leaders joined Lee College this month to celebrate the grand opening of the $12 million McNair Center expansion, which was completed in January and now houses programs in machining, millwrighting, welding and pipefitting. Student ambassadors led attendees on tours of the facility before Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown and members of the Board of Regents gathered to cut the ceremonial ribbon.

Welders, pipefitters, millwrights and machinists earn a median salary of $18-24 per hour, and have the potential to earn as much as $75,000 or more annually with a two-year degree.

“At Lee College, we are changing the conversation about workforce education in our community,” Brown said. “No longer are we simply preparing students for jobs; we are preparing them for well-paying careers that last a lifetime. In the newly expanded McNair Center, more students than ever will have the opportunity to become the fully employable, highly skilled workers that industry so greatly needs. ”

Students at the center will learn within a modern industrial environment closely modeled after what they will find upon entering the workforce. Course curricula are built around standards set by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), allowing students to earn industry-recognized credentials that make them more competitive in the job market.

“Opportunities abound in industrial construction for anyone interested in launching a career in a lucrative skilled trade,” said Debi Jordan, executive director of the Center for Workforce and Community Development, noting the increased need for a robust pipeline of candidates to fill thousands of available positions. “Industry is looking to Lee College to help fill that pipeline, and the McNair Center will provide best-in-class facilities.”

The McNair Center will also host daytime dual-credit classes this fall that allow high school students to earn college credits, and offer evening and weekend courses for working adults who want to pursue higher education while managing job and family responsibilities.

“The expansion will allow Lee College to provide quality educational programs that are in high demand in our region,” said Dr. Cathy Kemper-Pelle, vice president of Learning. “Area residents will have ready access to welding, pipefitting, machining, and millwright programs in a convenient location along Interstate 10. Students will learn from top quality instructors in state-of-the-art labs. This facility is a game-changer.”

The McNair Center expansion was funded through a bond issue approved in 2013 by 72 percent of voters. Brown credited the overwhelming support of the community, Board of Regents, local school districts, industry partners, elected officials and McNair neighbors for helping bring to fruition the shared goal to create the premiere industrial and technical training facility in the region.

“The McNair Center — and the students whose journey to a brighter future will take them through its new laboratories and classrooms — has given all of us a reason to be proud,” Brown said.

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 office in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

February conference to focus on women in petrochemical jobs

Nine area community colleges and several major refineries and manufacturers are joining together to recruit women into what was once a male-dominated industry.

Women in Industry is a one-day conference for women interested in well-paying career positions in the petrochemical industry. It is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 19, at Hotel Galvez in Galveston.

Petrochemical refineries need to replace as many as 40 percent of current employees over the next decade — because of plant expansions and an aging workforce.

The need has opened doors to new career options for women.

The Feb. 19 conference will introduce women to the types of career positions available and how to prepare for them.

Attendees will hear from women already working the industry about actual job experiences, how to best prepare for these careers, what training is required, and how to network with other women while on the job.

The conference will include lunch and feature exhibits by area companies. Women will be given time to ask questions, network with petrochemical representatives, and make “real connections” with educators, including opportunities to enroll in upcoming classes.

A morning track will provide important information about petrochemical and industrial trades career fields — and how capable, motivated women are finding success in a once male-dominated profession.

An afternoon track will help show women already employed in the industry to “take the next step” on the career ladder, and how to make networking a valuable ally.

Scheduled breaks during the day will provide opportunities for participants to meet industry representatives from companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron Phillips, LyondellBasell, Occidental Petroleum, Covestro, Noltex, Zachry, Jacobs, and INEOS.

The day will end with “how to make it happen” sessions where women can learn about financial aid, child care, fast track courses, certificate and associate degree programs at the area’s community colleges.

Cost for the day-long event is $20 for students and $40 for adults.

Learn more about Women in Industry at www.EventBrite.com/womeninpetrochem, or contact Kelly Dando, CCPI grant coordinator, at 281.425.6221, or kdando@lee.edu.

Black History Month events at Lee College

BAYTOWN, TX – After kicking off Black History Month with a sold-out improv comedy show, Lee College will continue its celebration of African-American culture and contributions throughout February with film screenings and a read-in, open mic night, fashion show and theatrical tribute to great black inventors.

International Education and the Reaching Excellence Against Limitations student organization are sponsoring a variety of Black History Month activities that are free and open to the public:

Tuesday, Feb. 9: Opening Reception
2 p.m., Lee College Library

Wednesday, Feb. 10: Movie screening: “Selma”
2 pm., Edythe Old Studio

Tuesday, Feb. 16: Documentary screening: “Thomlinson Hill”
2 p.m., John Britt Hall 118

Tuesday, Feb. 16: Open Mic Night
6 p.m., Performing Arts Center Black Box Theatre

Sunday, Feb. 21: “My Black is Beautiful” Fashion Show
3 p.m., Rundell Hall Conference Center

Monday, Feb. 22: Read-In
3 p.m., Edythe Old Studio

Tuesday, Feb. 23: “I Am First: Paying Tribute to Great Black Inventors”
6 p.m., Tucker Hall

Monday, Feb. 29: Movie screening: “Skin”
2 p.m., Edythe Old Studio

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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 center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.