LSC-O sheds light on “hidden gems”
Lamar State College-Orange is known
for a number of accomplishments: an ever-growing enrollment, affordable tuition
and a number of recognized programs, to name a few. But beneath the surface
lies a plethora of barely-tapped resources that are open to both students and
the community, alike. You may or may not know about these “hidden gems,” but
they are available to the public and are there for the taking.
For starters, community members are
invited to be a part of the LSC-O music program’s new Grand Chorus, beginning
this fall, as well as an acting class, both offered through the Continuing and
Workforce Education program. The Ron E. Lewis Library at LSC-O and the Orange
Leader have begun a substantial undertaking of digitizing and archiving dated
microfilm, a portion of which is now available to the public. A number of resources are also continuously
offered by LSC-O to the veterans and senior citizens in the community, including
free tuition and special classes.
This fall, LSC-O’s music program
will begin offering the new Grand Chorus, a choir for both students and the
community, where you can study and perform major works from various musical
periods throughout history. The works of Mozart will be studied this upcoming
fall semester and all students will present one of Mozart’s pieces this
semester and another in the spring semester. The fall concert will be performed
with the Beaumont Interfaith Choral Society, accompanied by organs and strings,
and in the spring, students will sing with the Symphony of Southeast Texas as
part of their symphony chorus.
“Our community is rich with choral
traditions,” said LSC-O music professor, Don Ball. “To my knowledge there is no
community choir in Orange County that is meeting regularly. This class would
meet the need for a community chorus, and at the same time, give students at
LSC-O the opportunity to sing some great music with area musicians.”
The Grand Chorus class will meet on
Monday evenings from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., with a few extra rehearsals
sprinkled in around performance times. There is no pre-requisite to be involved
and anyone interested within the community may register for the class through
the Continuing and Workforce Education department at LSC-O. The fee is $40 per
person and offers full-time students a one-hour credit for the class.
“We welcome everyone,” says Ball.
“The more people we have involved, the more we can accomplish.”
Since 2005, Mary McCoy, director of
library services at LSC-O’s Ron E. Lewis Library, has worked closely with the
Orange Leader Archives to organize and put online 240 rolls of microfilm dating
from Oct. 22, 1886, to Aug. 31, 1983. For many years the microfilm lay safe,
but forgotten. The archives of the Orange Leader were relegated to a vault at
the Orange Police Station in an attempt to protect them from the ravages of
Hurricanes Rita, Ike and any others that might come through the area. The
Orange Leader is one of the oldest community newspapers in Texas and was
published under a variety of names, but has existed in Orange since the late
The Orange Public Library has
always provided the community with a full run of the Orange Leader on
microfilm, but due to economic issues, the microfilm reader at the library has
not been operational for many years. Library patrons are allowed to check out
the rolls of microfilm and take them to the Ron E. Lewis Library on the LSC-O
campus to use the microfilm reader there.
“While this process does provide
the citizens of Orange with access to the Orange Leader archives, it is not the
ideal solution,” said Mary McCoy, director of library services at LSC-O. “As
the librarians at LSC-O helped the patrons with the microfilm reader, we began
to search for a solution to the problem.”
The microfilm company was contacted
about the cost to purchase another set of microfilm, but the company could not
find any archival copies of the film. The company had changed hands many times
and the archival or original microfilm was lost. The microfilm used by the
Orange Leader reporters was eventually located in the vault at the Orange
Police Station. Eric Bauer, editor of the Orange Leader, agreed to place the
microfilm in the Ron E. Lewis Library and was interested in the prospect of the
digitization of the film. In Feb. 2010, the agreement was signed and the Ron E.
Lewis Library became the official institutional repository for the Orange
After much research, the University
of North Texas, Digital Projects unit was chosen to digitize the Orange Leader
microfilm. Some issues of the Orange Leader are available online at the Portal
to Texas History (http://www.texashistory.unt.edu).
To date, four rolls of microfilm out of 240 have been digitized, but that
represents 520 issues of the Orange Leader. Four more rolls were recently sent
to be digitized, spanning dates from the Orange Tribune’s (now Orange Leader)
first issue on Oct. 22, 1886 up to 1905.
McCoy states the goal of the Orange Leader Archives Project
is to provide free and easy access to the back issues of the community
“Through the years I have helped a
number of people look through the Orange Leader microfilm from the Orange
Public Library,” she said. “They are so excited to find that childhood picture
of a younger brother who died many years ago or maybe to find a copy of an
obituary for a family genealogist.”
The Orange Leader Archives Project
will take many years to complete. Any community members or community groups
desiring to support the project may send contributions to the Ron E. Lewis
Library, 410 Front St., Orange, TX 77630. All contributions go directly to the
University of North Texas to cover the digitization costs. As issues are
completed they are posted to the Portal of Texas History website. Any group who
would like a presentation or demonstration of how to use the website may
contact Mary McCoy at (409) 882-3083.
“Remember,” she urges, “the Orange
Leader Archives contain the history and stories of every group, individual or
community organization that was ever featured in our local newspaper, The
Senior citizens also have an array
of services and classes available to them through LSC-O’s Continuing and
Workforce Education Department this coming year. For more than 10 years, senior
citizens have had the opportunity to sign up for a group fitness class,
targeting their specialized needs. During any given semester, between 20 and 40
seniors sign up for the fitness class, taught by Don Thomas, LSC-O’s instructor
of physical education.
“I get several responses from them
about the class,” said Thomas, “but they’re always positive. Some say the class
has saved their life, some say the doctor told them to continue taking the
class, and so on.”
Thomas says senior citizens who
sign up for the class can expect to see an increase in strength, improved
balance, improved blood pressure, enhanced healing, greater alertness and
improved coordination if they stick with the program. This fall, the senior
weight lifting class will meet on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9-9:50
a.m. The cost to take the class is only
$49 for the entire semester.
Beginning Computers for Seniors is
another class that “Over 55” crowd may sign up for this fall. Basic computer
skills will be taught and the class is designed for individuals who have never
used a computer. Students will learn very rudimentary skills such as how to
turn on a computer, navigate with a mouse, open programs, play games, surf the
internet, set up an e-mail account and how to send e-mail with attachments.
This free class will be held on Oct. 12 from 9-11 a.m.
“A significant component to LSC-O’s
mission is to provide community service activities that promote economic
development and cultural awareness,” said Cliff Ozmun, dean of Continuing and
Workforce Education. “These classes are part of the way that LSC-O performs its
For more information on signing up
for either of these classes, please contact LSC-O’s Continuing and Workforce
Education Department at 409-882-3917.
Last, but certainly not least,
senior citizens continue to have the opportunity to register for up to six
hours worth of classes at LSC-O without having to pay tuition. However, fees
are still applicable and you must be a Texas resident to sign up for this
opportunity. Director of Financial Aid at LSC-O, Kerry Olson, says that senior
citizens are admitted to any class they want to take, as long as there are no
full-time students on a waiting list for the course.
For more information on this
tuition incentive for senior citizens, please contact the Financial Aid
Department at 409-882-3317.
Opportunities abound for students
and community members of all ages at Lamar State College-Orange. While the
college has much to offer on the surface, there is always more than meets the
eye. Come discover and be a part of one of LSC-O’s “hidden gems.”