Lamar Institute of Technology will celebrate Black History Month on Feb. 13 with music from a local high school choir, a dance presentation from an internationally traveled performer and a forum to discuss race relations in 2008.

            The Ozen High School Choir will set the tone with a music selection, followed by a dance by Shani Henderson, who has performed from Washington , D.C. to Ghana , West Africa . The celebration is at 10 a.m. Feb. 13 in the LIT Multi-Purpose Center .

            “This is a very important event for LIT. It will not only give us visibility within the community, it will capitalize on the diverse population of students that attend LIT, the programs that we offer, and the support that we have from important community leaders,” said Janet Brugger, co-chair of the event. Brugger is director of development at LIT and executive director of the LIT Foundation.
            Guest speakers for the event include Pat Avery, Administrative Manager for TOTAL Petrochemical’s Port Arthur Refinery; Henderson, a dancer and choreographer; Judge Ransom “Duce” Jones, Jefferson County Justice of the Peace, Pct. 6; Oscar Polk, Operations Recruiting Coordinator for Eastman Chemical; and Audwin Samuel, Beaumont Mayor Pro-tem. LIT graduates serving on the panel will include Marva Hill of Dow Jones & Company Inc. and Albert Rhone Jr., a shift supervisor at ExxonMobil Beaumont Refinery.
            The panelists have a variety of skills and perspectives to bring to the table, Castillo said. “We have included well respected individuals within the community who have made a difference in Beaumont and Texas . In addition, we have invited LIT graduates who are making a difference in the region.
            “We hope the public will join us in celebrating Black History Month through song, dance and dialogue,” said Castillo, who served on the program committee.
Avery manages TOTAL’s Human Resources Department as well as the accounting, security, training, labor relations, purchasing, warehouse, contracts and public affairs activities. She earned her undergraduate degree in biology and a graduate degree in public administration from Iowa’s Drake University, after which the former high school track star and cheerleader found her niche helping people through employee relations and management.
Avery joined TOTAL’s Port Arthur Refinery in March of 1998 as the first woman and minority on their management team. She is heavily involved in the community and serves as a board member for The Partnership of Southeast Texas, Symphony of Southeast Texas, Communities in Schools, United Way of South County, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, the Texas Association of Business, Lamar Institute of Technology Foundation, Julie Rogers Gift of Life and the Golden Triangle Business Roundtable where she also serves as the safety committee chairperson.
            Henderson is a choreographer and dance instructor who has performed in West Africa and across the U.S. The Houston resident earned her bachelor of science degree in dance from Lamar University , graduating Summa Cum Laude. She studied on a Fulbright research grant in West Africa from 2006 to 2007, and studied dance at Florida State University .
            Jones was a fire investigator for the Beaumont Fire Department before he was elected justice of the peace. He has over twenty-five years of service and experience with the Beaumont Fire Department, including experience in fire safety and law enforcement. Jones is a 1974 graduate of Charlton-Pollard High School . He earned a bachelor of science in criminal justice and associate of science degree in Law Enforcement from Lamar.
            He has volunteered with various work-related and community organizations including the Young Men’s Business League, Special Olympics and Psalms 150 Gospel Choir. Jones served as a board member of The Garth House, Boys’ Haven and the YMCA and is a member of Cathedral of Faith Baptist Church.
            Polk is a 1973 graduate of Charlton-Pollard High School and earned a bachelors of science degree from Lamar University in Industrial Engineering in 1978. He got experience through LU’s cooperative education program from 1973-1977 by working with DuPont and Texaco. Polk was hired by Eastman Chemical in Longview in 1978.
            This former Beaumont resident has worked an industrial engineer, wage & salary representative, business methods analyst, division safety coordinator and senior personnel representative during his career. Polk is currently responsible for workforce development issues including recruitment, retention and school relations associated with ensuring a diverse group of high quality operations employees at Eastman. He has served on several boards including the Regional Advisory Board – National Society of Black Engineers, the National Science Foundation and the LIT Technology Advisory Board.          
            Samuel has operated the Law Offices of Audwin M. Samuel since 1994. He was a law clerk for Benkinstein & Oxford, P.C., from 1992 to 1994, and worked as a program director for Bouttee & Elmore, P.C., from 1987 to 1989. Samuel studied at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, where he earned his doctorateofjurisprudence. He studied at the Moorehouse Theological Center from 2003 to 2004, and continued his education at the College of Biblical Studies .
            He has served on the Beaumont school board from 1983 to 1984, before he was elected to city council in 1984. He served on the council until 1992, then was re-elected to council in 1999 and has served in the capacity of Mayor Pro-tem since 2005. While serving the city council, he has been a member of many boards with the National League of Cities and the National Black Caucus for local elected officials.
            Rhone is a 1987 graduate of Central High School and attended Texas Southern University, where he was a member of the Ocean of Soul marching band. He earned as associate of applied science degree from LIT in Process Operating Technology and after graduation got a job at Firestone Rubber Plant in Orange . He later was hired by Beaumont Methanol Corporation.
            Rhone started working for DuPont Sabine River Works in Orange , where he was employed for nine years. In addition to his current job at ExxonMobil, he is a partner of Wor-Rho Home Investments, a residential and commercial homebuilding company.
            Hill is a 2000 graduate of LIT. She earned an associate of applied science degree in both Office Technology Administration and Business Computer and Information Systems. Hill also earned a certificate in Office Technology Administration, with an emphasis in stenography. 
            The 1982 graduate of Forest Park High School served as president of Beta Gamma Phi (the local chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society) for two years and was secretary/treasurer of LIT’s Student Government Association for two years.
            For more about the free event, call (409) 880-8189.