‘Wizard of Oz’ opens Friday at PAC

Photo of actors portraying Scarecrow, Tinman, Dorothy and the Lion.

Heading off to see the Wizard are Scarecrow (Triston Haq), Tinman (Randy Powell), Dorothy (Beth Powell), the Lion (Joshua Figueroa) and Toto (Charlie Brown Marioneaux).

When Baytown Little Theater’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” opens Friday in the Performing Arts Center, Lee College will have provided much more than just the venue for the show.

All three of the senior production staff for the show received part of their education at Lee College: director Samuel Estrada-Gorashko and assistant directors Ty Carter and Vincent Cooper.

Beth Powell, who plays the role of Dorothy, was one of the Lee College students to direct a short play on the Performing Arts Center black box stage in April. The play she directed was written by former Lee College student Triston Haq, who plays the Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Many other current and former Lee College students are also in the cast and crew of the play. Tickets are on sale now.

This stage musical is based on the classic 1939 film that generations of Americans have grown up with, and has your favorite songs from the move with a couple of added musical numbers. You’ll hear “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead,” and, of course, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Director Samuel Estrada-Gorashko heads up this magical journey as Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion set off to see the Wizard. The four friends are played by Beth Powell, Triston Haq, Randy Powell and Joshua Figueroa, respectively.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday Aug. 10-11 and 17-18 and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday Aug. 12 and 19. All shows are at the Lee College Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at www.lee.edu/pac.

Special access performances

The performance at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17 will be sign-language interpreted for the hearing impaired. Please reserve seats near the front of the right (audience perspective) side sections if you need this service. For questions, email BoxOffice@lee.edu. Tickets are regular price.

A special sensory-friendly performance will be held at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16 for patrons with disabilities that do not allow sitting quietly through a long production. This is a private performance for those patrons and their caregivers or family members. There is no charge, but please make reservations by contacting the box office at 281-425-6255 or BoxOffice@lee.edu.

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Lee College Foundation Gala celebrates 50 years of supporting students

Portrait of Lee College President Dr. Dennis Brown.

Dr. Dennis Brown
Lee College president

As the Lee College Foundation celebrates its 50thyear, that is, 50 amazingly successful years, the principal annual fundraiser, the Lee College Gala, is just around the corner.  Mark your calendar for the social event of the year: Friday, September 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Sylvan Beach Pavilion in La Porte.  You can be assured that the event will be extra special, as we are celebrating 50 years of helping students succeed.  I cannot think of anything that touches the heart in such an amazing way, then helping someone improve their life through earning a higher education certificate or degree.  You too can open your heart to a deserving student, and leave a lifetime impression on their future.

The Lee College Foundation was established in 1968.  The first Board of Directors set a goal of $20,000 for student scholarships.  Today, the Foundation has accumulated over $12 million dollars.  This was realized through a lot of hard work and effort on the part of a dedicated and enthusiastic Board. The current Foundation Board Chair is Jennifer Marcontell. The Foundation is led by Pam Warford, who serves as Executive Director.

While endowed scholarships remain a priority for the Foundation, support is also provided for programs such as Lee College’s nationally recognized Honors Program, student success initiatives and support for students who were impacted by Hurricanes Rita and Harvey.  The one single major barrier to students enrolling and completing college is having sufficient financial resources.  If you have ever attended one of the annual Foundation Scholarship Breakfasts, and witnessed a donor talking to the recipient of the donor’s generosity, you would know the power this support has on students succeeding.

Underwriter opportunities range from $1,000 to $10,000, Sponsors start at $300 to $2,000, with Individual tickets for $125.  The silent and live auctions are second to none.  Truly amazing.

The Lee College Board of Regents, Foundation Board members and I look forward to seeing you at the Gala. I assure you it will be an exciting evening.  Just ask anyone to has attended previous Galas.  In the business world it is said that the most successful sales people are those who have return customers.  Well, Lee College’s Foundation Gala has just that, many satisfied return attendees. Put on your evening attire and get ready for a wonderful night with many of your friends from Baytown and the surrounding communities that Lee College serves.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Dr. Dennis Brown

President

Lee College

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Baytown Symphony announces 2018-2019 season

Photo of symphony

Baytown Symphony Orchestra on the Lee College PAC stage during a 2017 performance.

Baytown Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Pierre-Alain Chevalier, will kick off its 51st season Oct. 7 performing Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, with guest violinist Laura Cidino.

The season will continue Dec. 8-9 with Christmas in Baytown and then with “Song of Destiny” March 2. The final concert will be titled “Out of this World!” May 4.

The opening performance at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, is Cividino’s debut with the Baytown Symphony, but she is no stranger to the greater Houston area. She performs regularly with the Houston New Arts Movement, Mercury Chamber Orchestra, Bach Society Houston, Austin Baroque Orchestra, and the Brazos Valley Symphony—among other guest appearances—and tours internationally with the Calliope String Quartet.

This season-opening concert will conclude with Edward Elgar’s unparalleled Enigma Variations. This inspired work is built from multiple short movements that represent the important people in the British composer’s life, from his wife to his colleagues.

Adding its musical gifts to the holiday season, BSO will present Christmas in Baytown at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9.

The Baytown Community Chorus and students from Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District and Lee College will lift their voices in joyous harmony with the help of your Baytown Symphony Orchestra. Vocal music will be directed by Michael Grauvogl.

The performance will follow a similar format as 2017’s Christmas in Baytown but with new musical selections including “Silent Night,” the “Hallelujah!” chorus, “March of the Toys,” “Sleigh Ride” and Rutter’s “Donkey Carol.” There will be a pre-concert performance by the Memorial Ringers Handbell Choir.

The orchestra will once again team up with the Baytown Community Chorus at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2 for “Song of Destiny.” “Schicksalslied,” or “Song of Destiny,” is one of Johannes Brahms’ greatest symphonic-choral works.

Somehow, Brahms manages to highlight the rich textures of the orchestra and vocal lyricism in equal measure. This special performance will be Michael Grauvogl’s second as music director of the Baytown Community Chorus, but it will be the first spring concert for the Baytown Community Chorus in many years.

The BSO will perform the monumental Second Symphony by Jean Sibelius on the second half of the program.

The season will close with a truly an out-of-this-world experience at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4. Students from GCCISD will join the BSO on stage for a side-by-side performance of galactic proportions.

Works will include Selections from “E. T.,” Mendelssoh’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Holst’s “Jupiter,” and music from “Star Trek” and “Star Wars”!

Baytown Symphony Orchestra concerts are at the Lee College Performing Arts Center. Tickets are sold through the Performing Arts Center website at lee.edu/pac.

Student tickets are free at the box office before the concert.

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Summer kids’ program to present play Thursday and Friday

Youth who have taken part in the Lee College summer theater workshop will present “James and the Giant Peach Jr.”

There will be two shows on each of two days: 12:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, July 26-27 in the black box theater of the Lee College Performing Arts Center.

Tickets are $10 and may be purchased online through the Lee College Performing Arts Center box office.

Purchase tickets here

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Regents approve all items at July 19 meeting

Lee College regents approved all agenda items presented at their July 19 meeting.

In addition to receiving regular reports, the regents took actions including:

  • Hiring Julie Lee as controller
  • Hiring NaJean Preiss as academic advisor for nursing and allied health students
  • Renewed the lease of space for the Huntsville Center administration offices
  • Approved funds for upgrades to the PeopleSoft system, including implementation and training
  • Approved extending the lease of space in college facilities by the Harris County Department of Education to offer English as a Second Language and Adult Basic Education classes
  • Approved one-year administrative contracts for certain employees
  • Approved a resolution adopting an investment policy and strategies
  • Approved revisions to board policies
  • Approved issuing new revenue financing system bonds
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GRADcafe’- Open for Business

Photo of GRADcafe

Lee College GRADcafe serves up coffee and college, providing information to prospective students in a comfortable setting. The room is decorated with pennants from universities.

Portrait of Lee College President Dr. Dennis Brown.

Dr. Dennis Brown
Lee College president

Lee College has always been on the lookout for individuals in search of their path forward. For nearly 85 years, Lee College has been the preferred provider of postsecondary education for residents of Baytown, Highlands and our surrounding communities. The College does not take this responsibility lightly. Connecting people to education and training, through to transferring to a university or employment, is the hallmark of Lee College’s heritage. The College has been and always will be the college of the community.

We are so excited to have another vehicle through which we can connect residents with education, transfer and employment. Known as GRADcafe’, this marvelous outreach to the community is now open for business. It is the second such program in the greater Houston area, with the first cafécollege residing in Houston at the Carnegie Neighborhood Library. GRADcafé is a partnership with Project Grad Houston, whose mission is to assist individuals improve their lives by helping them achieve their educational aspirations. We could not be prouder to be the second site, nor could we be prouder to be in partnership with Project Grad Houston. Financial support for GRADcafe’ has been provided by Project Grad Houston, the Temple Foundation, the JP Morgan Chase Foundation and the Fondren Foundation. We are indebted to these organizations for their support.

For many people, stepping onto a college campus can be intimidating.  GRADcafe’ make that step possible in an informal and friendly manner.  You can have a cup of coffee, talk with a Gradcafe’ advisor, and learn about what your options are for your future.  A visit to GRADcafe’ can be life changing. There is no better time than now to get connected with your future. The path is clear. It begins with GRADcafe’

GRADcafe’ is located inside Lee College’s Center for Workforce and Community Education, at 909 Decker (the intersection of Decker Drive/Market Street and Texas Avenue). It is right across the parking lot from the City of Baytown’s Sterling Public Library. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Come as you are!

It is time for you to take hold of your future. Do not wait for your future to find you, be proactive and find your future. There is no better time than now. The coffee is brewing, and your cup is waiting. All services, including the coffee, are free.

Dr. Dennis Brown

President

Lee College

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Board of Regents June 21

At its regular meeting June 21, the Lee College Board of Regents:

• Received regular reports

• Hired Barbara Rogers as a full-time nursing instructor

• Hired Kathleen Murphy as a full-time nursing instructor

• Hired Danielle Essix as women’s head volleyball coach and kinesiology instructor

• An agenda item to consider hiring an internal auditor was withdrawn

• Approved spending $30,000 for digital advertising services with Centro

• Approved continuing to use Amegy Bank as the depository for district funds

• Approved spending $111,781 for program management and project management services with Sledge Engineering for critical revenue bond projects

• Approved a list of critical projects to be financed by a revenue bond estimated to be about $10.4 million. The list included pool repair with the understanding that less expensive options be explored.

• Approved payment of an additional $8,296 to Weaver for professional services beyond what was previously approved

• Approved spending up to $100,000 for additional design-build work for mechanical upgrades to the Gray Science Building.

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Parking notes for July 3

From Dr. Dennis Brown:

Hello Lee College Students and Staff,

 The City of Baytown will begin their Independence Day Celebration early on Tuesday, July 3 with a concert and other festivities in Bicentennial Park across from our campus on Lee Drive.  The festivities begin officially at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday night, but they will shut down Lee Drive to through traffic around noon on Tuesday so vendors can begin setting up.

 As you can imagine this will have an effect on Lee College parking lots and access to campus.  If you are parked on the Lee Drive side of campus you will still be able to exit our lots and turn left onto Lee Drive heading south toward the railroad tracks.  If you normally leave campus after noon and turn right onto Lee Drive, you may want to consider parking on the east side of campus off of South Whiting Street.

Those of you who normally arrive to campus in the afternoon or evenings on Tuesdays will want to access campus from South Whiting Street and park in lots 8, 10, 11, or 13.

 Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!  Dennis

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Second Chances

Portrait of Lee College President Dr. Dennis Brown.

Dr. Dennis Brown
Lee College president

There are times when second chances do make a difference. Case in point—Lee College’s Offender Education Program in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison units.  By the numbers, if an offender is released from prison with no-to-little education beyond what they had when they were initially  incarcerated, 50 percent of those paroled will return to prison, most likely due to committing another offense or violating their parole. In contrast, for offenders who earn a certificate or associate degree in a technical field of study that number drops to below 10 percent. The choice is simple: would you rather pay to house, feed and guard an offender, or assist those incarcerated who are serving time for the crime they committed, to learn a skill that will lead to a job, financial self-sufficiency, and re-integration into society as a productive law-abiding tax-paying citizen?

Lee College has provided instruction to offenders since the 1960s. We just celebrated our 50th year educating future citizens and employees. Each semester, over 1,100 offenders are receiving training in one of the following career pathways: Cabinetmaking; Culinary Arts; Horticulture; Truck Driving; Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning; Welding; Business; and Microcomputer Applications. Offender students must be within five years of parole eligibility to apply to enroll in the programs. To remain in the programs, they must have good behavior and be making satisfactory academic progress toward their certificate/degree. The State of Texas provides a loan program for offenders to pay the course tuition. With all the clamor about the high student loan amounts and default rates for non-incarcerated students, incarcerated student loan default is mostly non-existent. There is a simple reason: a condition of an offender’s parole is the requirement that the loaned funds must be paid back. Failure to pay back the loan would be a violation of parole and cause the parolee to return to prison.

On June 23, Lee College held its graduation ceremony at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville, where 167 students received their Associate of Applied Science Degrees.  As impressive as the ceremony and awarding of degrees was, more impressive were the smiles, excitement, cheers from children, parents, spouses, and other family members in attendance. For some families, this was the first time in a long time that they had something to be proud of about their graduate. It clearly is a life changer. The ceremony is held in the chapel, which is behind razor-sharp barbed wire and armed guards. However, if you were present and did not know you were in a prison unit, you would have thought you were at any one of the thousands of graduation ceremonies that occur each year throughout the country. Caps and gowns were the order of the day. As proud as the families were of the offenders, the offender students were beaming. For some of them it was the first “right” thing that they had done in some time.

Lee College’s Dean of the Huntsville Center is Donna Zuniga, who has been involved with prison education for Lee College for over 30 years. Her exemplary leadership is complemented by a talented support team which includes Paul Allen, Academic Division Chair, Scooter Langley, Technical Division Chair, and a cadre of skilled faculty who go behind the bars every day to change lives. Equally amazing is the support from businesses throughout the state, especially in the Houston area, who donate funds to help pay tuition costs. Why? They are investing in their future workforce. Once the offender is released on parole, these companies hire them to work for their companies. It is an amazing return on investment.

None of this would be possible without the support of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Special thanks to Bryan Collier, Executive Director, Oscar Mendoza, Deputy Executive Director, Rene Hinojosa, Director of the Rehabilitation Services Division, and the unit wardens, whom without their support inmate education programs would not exist.

So yes, second chances do work. One offender at a time.

Dr. Dennis Brown is president of Lee College.

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Lee College Alliance hosting lunch with ‘Man of La Mancha’ matinee July 1

An opportunity to make the Lee College performance of “Man of La Mancha” even more special will be a luncheon Sunday, July 1 before the musical’s matinee performance.

The Lee College Alliance is hosting the special event for $30 a ticket, which includes lunch at 12:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center Student Gallery and Lobby, followed by the performance in the Main Hall at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets will be available at the Lee College Alliance check-in table the day of the event.

To purchase tickets, go to http://www.lee.edu/alumni/special-events/

The menu includes a taco bar with your choice of meat: Pork al pastor, carne aside, blackened shrimp or grilled chicken–served on corn and flour tortillas. They are served with beans and rice. Dessert is tres leeches cake or flan.


“Man of La Mancha” information (or to purchase show tickets without the meal)

This is also a great opportunity to enjoy the summer faculty art exhibit.

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