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WNBA’s Chicago Sky Drafts Former AC Standout Mack

By Gary Stallard, AC Athletics

By now, Natasha Mack’s story of perseverance has become nearly legendary with national news outlets sharing the tale of a young woman who returned to the game of basketball after walking away for a year and working in a chicken processing plant. Some of those outlets also shared how Mack as a third grader wrote in a class assignment that her dream was to one day play professional basketball.

On Thursday, April 15, the outlets helped spread a different story: Mack, the former Lufkin High School and Angelina College standout, was the 16th overall pick in the WNBA draft. She will now pack her stories and talents and head to Chicago to play for the Sky. 

With family and friends holding a private watch party inside AC’s Shands Gymnasium – and on the same floor where Mack reignited her passion for the game – Mack waited and watched with the crowd as the draft unfolded on a large screen before them. Although early mock drafts had Mack listed among other first-round picks, the Sky waited until the second round to call Mack’s name. 

No biggie. It will not be the first time Mack has had to prove her value. 

“I need to prove I should have been taken in the first round,” Mack said during her ESPN interview. “It’s as simple as that. That’s what I’m here to do.”

After having AC coaches Byron Coleman and Randy McKelvey talk her into giving the game another shot, Mack proceeded to shatter numerous records during her two years at AC, including the records for points in a season (791), career points (1,471), rebounds, blocks and field-goal percentage. She was a four-time JUCO National Player of the Week and was the first AC athlete to earn both First Team All-American status and the National Player of the Year award. 

In her sophomore campaign, Mack led the Lady Roadrunners in 2018-2019 to the program’s first-ever appearance at the national tournament after AC won the Region XIV conference tournament. The team spent most of the year ranked in the top 20 nationally and established a record for wins in a season with 29.

At her next stop at Oklahoma State University, Mack led the nation in blocks in 2021 with 112 for the season, averaging a nation’s best 4.0 blocks per game. She eclipsed the 1,000-point mark at OSU and became just the second-ever Cowgirl to notch a triple-double in a game. Her efforts led to the coveted Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

Mack and her family will not have long to celebrate. She reports to the team’s training bubble the week of April 19-27, and the Sky tips off its regular season on May 15 with a trip to face the Washington Mystics. 

It sounds like a lot of traveling, but then again, Mack has shown she can handle just about any sort of journey.

“I’m glad a team wanted me and believed in me,” Mack said while adjusting her new Sky cap. “It’s time for me to go to work now.”

Natasha Mack speaks to the ESPN Draft Day crew following her selection on Thursday, April 15 in WNBA draft. Mack, the former Angelina College standout, was the 16th overall pick in the draft as selected by the Chicago Sky. (Gary Stallard/AC Athletics photo)
Natasha Mack dons the cap of her new team, the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, after hearing her name called during WNBA draft Thursday, April 15. Mack, the former Angelina College standout, was selected as the 16th overall pick. (Gary Stallard/AC Athletics)

AC presents: The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow

The cast of Sleepy Hollow does a table-reading on the stage in the ACA. (Photo by Janice Paxson)
Grider Killam delivers his lines. (Photo by Janice Paxson)
Devon Oliver is studying his part in Sleepy Hollow. (Photo by Janice Paxson)
Benton Reynolds and Philip Reynolds review the script. (Photo by Janice Paxson)
Kristen Allen delivers her lines during a socially distanced table-read. (Photo by Janice Paxson)
Katie Hargroue is reading lines through her face-covering while preparing for AC’s upcoming performance of Sleepy Hollow. (Photo by Janice Paxson)

Playwright: Tony Palermo


Knickerbocker- Tyler Arnold

Ichabod Crane- Davon Oliver

Katrina Van Tassel- Katie Hargroue

Brom Van Broont- Ben Reynolds

Sibylla Van Ripper- Alyssa Moss

Parson Hillebrand- Nicholos Trusclair

Little Ulf Van Broont- Cedric Carson Jr.

Mogen Van Broont- Grider Killam

Koren Van Broont- Meredith Taylor

Loris- Cody Carter

Voorlezer- Philip T. Reynolds

Mynheer 1- River Delcambre

Mynheer 2- Deondre Bookman

Mynheer 3- Cedric Carson Jr.

Vrouw 1- Tari Dean

Vrouw 2- Crystal Galloway

Vrouw 3- Dianna Saenz

Little Gert- Trinity Galloway

Baltus Van Tassel- Grider Killam

Sofie Van Tassel- Kristin Allen

Varkenvisser- Andrew Reed

Astrid- Alyssa Moss

Brielle- Kristin Allen

Roos- Meredith Taylor

Alva- Trinity Galloway

Famke- Nadile Kessinger

Cecilius- Bennett Reed

Dol- River Delcambre

Headless Horseman- Ben Reynolds

Maj. Andre’s Ghost- Nicholos Trusclair

Spring reaches the Angelina College campus

On the way to the library, you can see beautiful flowers in bloom. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
Azalea blossoms spring open on the AC Lufkin Campus. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
AC students are not the only ones busy during the final weeks of the semester; these fire ants on campus are hard at work. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
The trees on campus take on the brightest shades of green this time of year. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
Pink azalea bushes decorate the walkways between buildings on the Angelina College Lufkin campus. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
Campus squirrel is seen here taking advantage of the beautiful Spring day. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)

Janelle Grum Family Crisis Center held safety training seminar

Speaker Jessica Escue is seen here while addressing the seminar on March 24th. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
Stuart Benson has information on many of the amazing services offered by the Family Crisis Center. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)

In-person classes still being held throughout COVID-19

By Ty Thomason, graphic arts student

After recently taking some photos of the automotive class offered at Angelina College and talking to the instructor, Mark Yarnall, I have learned more about how the current in-person classes function. 

I, like many other students, am currently fully online and have not had any in- person interactions for classes aside from a few for the newspaper itself. While plenty of students are not completely online, the majority who are fully online might not have any understanding of how the hybrid classes play out.

Yarnall said that aside from one instance when he got sick, his class has not had many problems with COVID. The main problem was in not being able to fully teach the class. 

His class relies heavily on hands-on learning because his students are majoring in automotive technology. “We always had assignments and lessons on the computers,” Yarnell said, “but while teaching I would pass around whatever part we were learning about that day.” 

This became significantly more difficult when the hands-on aspect was lost because of health concerns. Yarnall feels that part of the experience of his class was lost, too.

With all the challenges the class has faced, Yarnall’s class is doing very well. The students said they have had overall positive experiences with the classes. 

Hopefully, as all classes begin to open in the fall, they will be able to work just as well as Yarnall’s automotive class while also keeping the students and the instructors safe.

Mark Yarnall teaches Ryan Luna and Ryan Turner all about an auto transmission. (Photo by Ty Thomason)
Mark Yarnall takes apart this transmission in a lesson for Ryan Luna and Ryan Turner. (Photo by Ty Thomason)
Santos Deltoro Jr. and Korey King are seen here working on a gear shift. (Photo by Ty Thomason)

Five-day event offers face-to-face advising for upcoming semesters

Students trying to register for the upcoming summer and fall semesters at Angelina College will have the opportunity to receive face-to-face advising April 12-16. 

From Monday, April 12 through Friday, April 16, AC faculty and advisers will be on-hand inside the campus Library for a Registration Rally designed to help students enroll in courses for the upcomin.g semesters. The session will run from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.each day.

Students will check in at Roadrunner Central in the AC Student Center and move to their pertinent advisers for class scheduling. New students will receive direction for advising while at Roadrunner Central. 

In addition, there will be rally events, including drawings for such prizes as JBL wireless headphones, Rokus, printers and more. Students registering by April 30 will have a chance to win a full-ride scholarship for the next semester; those who register before April 16 will have two chances at the drawing. 

Classes for the Summer I semester begin on May 24; Summer II classes start on July 5; and the Fall 2021 semester kicks off in August. 

During each live registration session, all participants are asked to follow current COVID-19 guidelines, including the wearing of masks on campus and proper social distancing measures. 

For further information, contact Krista Brown at

Upcoming graduation to be held in-person


We have received your feedback and, in an effort to support you best, we would like to announce our 2021 Commencement Ceremony has been changed to in-person.

Your accomplishments are important to us and we want to see you walk across the stage with friends and family cheering in the stands. 

We will have 3 separate ceremonies in order to minimize the size of our gathering.

  • Friday, May 7th at 6 pm: Health Careers
  • Saturday, May 8th at 11 am: Science & Math and Arts & Education
  • Saturday, May 8th at 3 pm: Business & Technology

Each graduate will be issued 5 tickets for their guests. You may pick these up at the AC Bookstore when you pick up your regalia. Further information will be sent once tickets and regalia are available in the AC Bookstore.

We will follow the recommendations of the CDC and ask everyone to be respectful of personal space through social distancing and masks. 

The in-person graduation will be live-streamed in order to include those who may not feel comfortable joining us and those who would like to celebrate from afar. 

Please click the below link to register for 2021 IN PERSON Graduation by April 30th.

We ask that you would help us to spread the news and reach out to your classmates to ensure everyone who would like to participate has the opportunity. If you have any questions, please reach out to Jordan LaCaille ( or Lauren Stacy (

Graduation Registration

Angelina College to host live registration rally week

Students looking to register for the upcoming summer and fall semesters at Angelina College will have the opportunity to receive face-to-face advising next week.

From Monday, April 12 through Friday, April 16, AC faculty and advisors will be
on-hand inside the campus library for a “Registration Rally” designed to help students
enroll in courses for the upcoming semesters. The session will run from 8:30 a.m. until 6
p.m. each day.

Students will check in at Roadrunner Central in the AC Student Center and move
to their pertinent advisors for class scheduling. New students will receive direction for
advising while at Roadrunner Central.

In addition, there will be rally events, including drawings for such prizes as JBL
wireless headphones, Roku’s, printers and more. Students registering by April 30 will
have a chance at a full-ride scholarship for the next semester; those who register before
April 16 will have two chances at the drawing.

Classes for the Summer I begin on May 24; Summer II classes start on July 5; and
the Fall 2021 semester kicks off in August.

During each live registration session, all participants are asked to follow current
COVID-19 guidelines, including the wearing of masks inside and proper social
distancing measures. ‘

For further information, contact Krista Brown at

AC Community Services offers a 2-year CPR certification

AC student Tasha Dodd practicing CPR breaths during certification. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
Instructor Kaylyn Moody is demonstrating with AED. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
AC Student, Naomi Faullon, seen here attaching AED Pads. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
AC Student Howard Krohn is seen here giving CPR compressions after AED Shock. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
Instructors Kaylyn Moody and Pam Hollis demonstrate AED use with a partner. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
AC Student Amber Schneider is giving breaths with oxygen mask during the certification. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
AC Student Isabel Rodriguez seen here placing a oxygen mask on a CPR dummy. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
Here AC Student Lilian Olima is practicing CPR using an oxygen mask. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)

AC Theatre presents Inspector Rufflethorpe: ‘The Twitshyre Murder Case’

By Anthony E. Palermo

Experience the fun and excitement of old-time radio drama accompanied by musical score and live sound effects! This classic British detective story is set in an English manor with a fresh corpse and a long list of eccentric suspects! Inspector Rufflethorpe of Scotland Yard and his assistant Sgt. Frimly, are called to a country manor in Margate to investigate the mysterious death of Lord Archibald Farquhar-Bensington. It’s a live radio drama complete with a ghostly séance, a series of baffling murders, and a monument to deductive logic when the culprit is finally unmasked!

Cast list for Inspector Rufflethorpe ‘The Twitshyre Murder Case’:

Inspector RufflethorpeKatie Hargroue

Sergeant FrimlyDavon Oliver

Lady BensingtonTari Dean            

Constable Dixon – Ben Reynolds    

Countess ValeskaAlyssa Moss

Cedric CrumptonCody Carter

Gretchen LaytherlyMeredith Taylor

Colonel FrothinghamPhilip T. Reynolds

Ralph StellsmoreCedric Carson Jr.

ChalmersNicholos Trusclair

Reginald Skelmsdale River Delcambre

Madam Hillswick- Grider Killam

ElsieTrinity Galloway              

AnnouncerJade Wilson

Sound Effect ArtistDianna Saenz, Deondre Bookman

Sound EngineerMeredith Taylor

DirectorAndrew Reed

Visit the YouTube link here.

Question this issue:

“What are your plans for Spring Break?”

Austin Pena

I plan on working on a personal comic project to see if I can get somewhere and maybe work on a pitch in case I feel like I get to a point where it’s good enough to be a book.

Other than that, I’m going to keep doing house chores and whatnot. Lots of leaves are scattered in our backyard scattered, and that’s going to take a while to clean up.

Major: Graphic Arts

Hometown: Livingston

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Matthew Gresham

I really don’t have plans for Spring Break other than to, hopefully, catch up on sleep.

Major: Graphic Arts

Hometown: Lufkin

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Reynaldo Perez

For Spring Break, I plan on working on my car (switching out the transmission).

Major: Graphic Arts

Hometown: Lufkin

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Victoria Steptoe

I plan on spending time with friends and family.

Major: Nursing

Hometown: Lufkin

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Matthew Kitchens

I plan to work, lots of work. Some exercise and game development, too, more likely than not. (After work, so basically just work to be honest) Dungeons and Dragons on Saturday though!

Major: Graphic Arts

Hometown: Lufkin

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Vaccinations Are Important

By Dorothy Popham, Reporter

How important is your health to you? A debate on whether you should vaccinate or not is circulating.

In my opinion, vaccinations are vital to a healthy lifestyle. They protect you against severe diseases that are not only a threat to you, but also to others around you.  Vaccines teach your immune system how to create antibodies that protect against diseases, which is a safer way to teach your immune system than catching the disease. Once your immune system knows how to fight a disease it can protect you for many years against that certain disease.

The reasons to get vaccinated are many, but the main one is it prevents you and those around you from diseases that are so harmful you must go to the hospital with severe symptoms or you can die from these diseases.

Vaccinations even prevent uncommon diseases such as polio, haemophilus influenzae type b, diphtheria, meningococcal pneumonia, and many more severe diseases.

A study says that vaccines prevent up to three million deaths worldwide every year.

For example, as a child, I did not receive the meningitis vaccine when I should have, and at the age of 12, I was hospitalized for two weeks with meningitis with severe symptoms and even had a near-death experience.

Not only did I catch it, but I also spread it to some close family members who also had to be hospitalized. After that scary experience, my family and I got all the vaccinations and have not had anything like that happen again.

Vaccinations help build your immune system to those diseases that are uncommon and even to the common diseases.

If people stop getting vaccines, it is possible for infectious diseases to spread like wildfire again.

For instance, if we would have had a COVID vaccine sooner, we could have prevented the spread of the virus or at least slowed the spread around the world because our immune systems would have already encountered the virus and would have been able to fight it off. Even if our immune systems did not fight it off fully, we would not experience the most severe symptoms of the virus.

Many myths are also circulating about vaccines that scientists have found to be false. For example, people have said that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine can cause autism, but many studies have shown that there is no connection between the two.

Another example is that vaccines contain mercury, which studies have also found to be

false. Scientists have found successful results from vaccinations through many studies.

Although vaccines can cause mild side effects that will not last long, they are still vital for a healthy lifestyle.

For instance, my cousin got the flu shot and a day later had symptoms of the flu, but they were not severe at all and went away within two days. The doctor explained to her that it was her immune system fighting off the virus to the point where she would not be able to catch the virus in its full effect.

We would all rather experience mild symptoms that go away in a couple days than experience severe symptoms that last a week or two and could more than likely lead to death.

Vaccines are still being used by many people, but many have stopped as  well.

In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, vaccines are the way to go. Even if you do not really care about a healthy lifestyle, be considerate and remember those around you whom you  could potentially spread diseases to because you did not get vaccinated. My family and I will always receive vaccines not only for ourselves but also for those around us. You should do the same. Vaccinations are safe and need to be given to everyone.

Integrating the Segregated South

By Dr. Debra Michals on the National Women’s History Museum website

On Nov. 14, 1960, Ruby Bridges led the charge to desegregating an elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana. Though the landmark Supreme Court case of Brown v. the Board of Education had ruled that schools must be desegregated in 1954, many schools in the South ignored that ruling for as long as they could.

Two years prior to Bridges enrolling in William Frantz Elementary School, the school district created entrance exams for African American students to see whether they could compete academically at the all-white school. Bridges and five other students passed the exam, but only Bridges ended up enrolling. 

Bridges’ father was opposed to allowing his daughter to attend an all-white school because he was afraid for both the physical and emotional safety of his daughter and also his entire family. Bridges’ mother, Lucille, eventually convinced him to allow Ruby to enroll. 

Bridges was escorted to her school by four federal marshals for the entire school year. She spent her first day in the principal’s office as multiple irate parents arrived to pull their children out of the school, angry at the fact that their children may have to attend the same school as someone with black skin. 

Bridges, when reflecting on her experiences, credits her journey to her mother’s bravery. Lucille Bridges walked her daughter to school every day and helped her daughter feel safe, despite things being thrown at them and insults hurled at them.

Her family suffered in other ways as well. Bridges’ father was fired from his job, grocery stores refused to sell to the family, and her grandparents were evicted from their farm, all because Lucille dared to give her daughter the same educational opportunities afforded to white children. 

For Bridges’ first year, she was taught by herself in a vacant classroom by one teacher, Barbara Henry. The parents of the other children still enrolled in the school refused to allow their children to be taught in the same classroom as Bridges. 

By the end of the year, the crowds that shouted racial epithets and threats at Bridges as she walked to school began to thin, and the following year, several more black students enrolled at the elementary school.  Bridges went on to publish a memoir of her experiences and became a parent liaison for Frantz Elementary, which had, by 1993, become an all-black school. She also founded the Ruby Bridges Foundation, which focuses on increasing tolerance and inclusion among school children through education.

This is photograph of Ruby Bridges at age 6. (Photo contributed)

Texas power grid goes black

By Ty Thomason, graphic arts student

The recent winter storm has opened the eyes of many Texans to just how severe something can be when you are unprepared. But was this something that should have only been in the hands of the citizens?

Three power grids exist in the United States with Texas having one of them all to itself. This comes with many pros and cons, and one of the pros of this is being able to keep away from federal regulation.

Texas has avoided having regulations on a federal level since its first days, always being self-reliant and giving Texans a sense of pride and independence. And yes, this independence comes with things like no state income tax and, with the power grid, fewer fees and taxes for their power. But what happens when your grid fails?

If another state were to be cut off like Texas was, it would not be nearly as detrimental. Since the rest of the states share one of the two other power grids, they are able to spread the resource around to those who need it. While this does come with the ties of federal regulation, it allows citizens to know they will be safe when the storms come.

Another issue with Texas’ power grid is the lack of winterization, or being prepared for intense snow and ice storms. In the northern states, this is a necessity because they experience winter storms yearly, but in a place like Texas, it almost seems like a joke.

Why would the Texas government prepare for something so incredibly improbable? But it actually might have had more of a warning than we realize.

Back in 2011, there were pushes by federal regulators and corporations to winterize Texas during a deep freeze that left many without power. But with pushes like these not being mandatory, ERCOT, the company over the Texas power grid, has little incentive to winterize since it would be an expensive investment.

Texas having its own power grid is something that has many benefits but also has many flaws.

As with many things, there is no perfect solution, but with upcoming studies that global warming can cause these extreme cold storms, these once-in-a-lifetime storms could become a very common thing.

But only time will tell if we will need to be prepared for another devastating storm like what we just experienced.

Angelina College distributes $1.3 Million in CRRSAA funds 

Angelina College announced the disbursement of more than $1.3 million in Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 funds to more than 1,500 qualifying students.

Each recipient received a payment of $835.95 for financial relief. This disbursement is in addition to the student disbursement in fall 2020 approved through the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security Act.

 CRRSAA was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on Dec. 27, 2020. In total, the CRRSAA authorizes $81.88 billion in support for education, in addition to the $30.75 billion former Secretary DeVos provided last spring through the CARES Act.

 Angelina College received this allocation of funding for support of eligible students being impacted by the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To see a full list of student eligibility requirements, please visit the Angelina College website at

 Students seeking further information are encouraged to contact the Angelina College Business Office at for account inquiries or the Financial Aid office for eligibility questions at

AC students share their Winter storm selfies

Josh Giles, Graphic Arts major and Pacer editor, is seen here still optimistic about the snow during the first day of the storm. Opinions shifted…
Austin Pena, Major: Graphic Arts
Dante Williams, a dual-credit Student from Big Sandy/Livingston, shows off his snowman during the Winter storm.
Melissa Trevino, Graphic Arts major, with her daughter, Aaliyah Segura.
AC art appreciation student Alicia Tims shows photo of her 14-year-old step-daughter, Jenny Tims, with a giant icicle off their house during the winter storm.
Elida Ramirez, general studies major from Lufkin, makes a snow angel.
Elida’s snow angel in completion.
Dual-credit general studies majors from Big Sandy, Patrick Mosley, takes photo of his snowman.
AC student Meiah Cordero Rangel, a General Studies/ Nursing major, with her dog in the snow.
AC student Amanda Nolin shares a photo of her four-year -old daughter, Avalea, making a snow angel. Amanda is a General Studies major.
AC photography student, Christie Adams, takes advantage of the recent snow and ice to get some winter photographs.
AC nursing student, Lorena Macias, is from Nacogdoches, Tx.
Makaylie attempts a snow angel.

AC students celebrate Black History Month

Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History Month,” created this event originally as a week-long event in 1926. The event sought to highlight the centrality of Black American to the story of America, as their accomplishments were largely neglected in books and discussions on American history. Black history and contributions continued to be left out of year-round curriculum 95 years later, which is why we continue to celebrate it today.

Carter G. Woodson is known as the “Father of Black History Month,” (Photo contributed)
Mondays during February, Angelina College Student Life has been hosting “Discussions Over Dinner: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.” Emmanuel Acho hosts the YouTube series that addresses race in America with guests like Matthew McConaughey and Chelsea Handler. Students are encouraged to join the discussion every Monday at 5 P.M. over Zoom. (Screenshot by Josh Giles)
Tuesday November 9th, Student Life hosted Black History Month trivia virtually over Zoom. Sherina Argumon took the first place spot, crushing the competition. Second place went to Josh Giles, and taking the third place spot was River Delcambre. Next virtual trivia night will be Tuesday March 2nd. (Screenshot by josh Giles)

Louisiana standout Williams signs with Lady Roadrunners

By Gary Stallard, AC Athletics

High school basketball standout McKayla Williams, who earned a Stanley High School varsity call-up as a seventh grader and posted a 35-point game as an eighth-grader playing against upperclassmen, recently signed her letter of intent to join the Angelina College Lady Roadrunners beginning in the fall of 2021.

Williams said she based her decision on AC head coach Byron Coleman’s reputation for developing players and preparing them for success at the sport’s upper levels.

“The things I’ve heard about Coach Coleman, how he sends players to the next level and how he takes care of his players, made me want to be a part of this,” Williams said. “I know the program has made it to the national championship tournament, and they’re always in the playoffs.”

Williams, a 5-foot-6-inch guard, has shown the versatility to play both the point and shooting guard positions, and she said she is willing to play whatever role helps the Lady Roadrunners put together winning seasons.

A multiple-award recipient in the All-State post-season honors, Williams has for her career scored nearly 3,800 points and is averaging nearly 32 points per game in 2020-2021. With those numbers, she now is ranked No. 50 in the MaxPreps Top 100 High School Girls Basketball Scorers of All Time.

Her impressive numbers could increase as her Stanley HS Lady Panthers embark on what they hope will be a long post-season run. With Williams on the floor, the Lady Panthers have been ranked among the state’s Top 10 for the past several years.

Coleman said Williams will provide on-court leadership in addition to her proficiencies in getting the ball through the bucket.

“She’s got a lot of experience, and she’s scored tons of points at the high school level,” Coleman said. “She’s been on varsity since the seventh grade, and she had a 35-plus point playoff game as an eighth grader. She can shoot, and she gets to the line. She’s just an outstanding offensive weapon.

“We think she’s going to be a solid player at this level for the next two years.”

Williams said she plans to major in sports management. She is the daughter of Mary Williams and Anthony Turner from Logansport, Louisiana.

McKayla Williams as she signs with Angelina College. (Photo by Gary Stallard)

Nonprofit Leadership Conference done virtually this year

The 4th Annual Nonprofit Leadership Center Conference was held virtually via Zoom this past Friday, January 29. Conference topics included: Coming out of COVID-19, Latest Nonprofit Sector Research, Fundraising Effectiveness, Personal Productivity, and the Launch of the Angelina College Nonprofit Management Certificate. For more information about the Nonprofit Leadership Center programs and services, contact

Speakers at this year’s event presented over Zoom on the Angelina College campus. (Photo contributed)

Opinion on Masks and COVID-19

By Daniel Laenger, Reporter

I believe people should wear a mask in public because the COVID-19 virus is going crazy in our country with four different versions now spreading around and because they show no signs of slowing down. Difficult breathing or not, I am going to wear a mask.

This mess of the virus, which started in China, is killing people more and more every day.

Everybody who can wear a mask should wear one. It makes no sense to not wear one, especially when you cannot stay six feet apart or social distance, as the practice is called, from anyone.

Who cares if you are inconvenienced for a few minutes each day when you are out in public? Boo-hoo. You, who may be infected with COVID-19 or some version of it, may not know it.

Then, because of your not wanting to wear a mask, you may infect the two children of a mother who has a weakened immune system and either of them, not knowing they have been exposed, may pass it to their mother, who has a greater chance of dying from COVID-19. This unfortunate situation could happen to you, but hopefully, it will not happen to any of us.

Four types of SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19, are currently known. The Centers for Disease Control list on their website all four types of COVID-19—the first version that came from China that we all know about and three new types that are making headlines, which the CDC website lists as SARS-CoV-2 variants.

First on this list is a new type that began in the United Kingdom known as 201/501Y.V1, VOC 202012/01 or B.1.1.7 for short.

The next one from South Africa —20H/501Y.V2 or B.1.351—the CDC says, emerged independently of B.1.1.7.

Lastly is Brazil’s version called P.1. All three variants are here in the United States.

The UK version, according to the CDC, is “associated with increased transmissibility,” meaning it can be spread around more easily.

Of the one from South Africa, B.1.351, the CDC says, “Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that this variant has any impact on disease severity.” That is good news, sort of.

The P.1 version is getting more attention because of the changes it has from the original that may allow it to, as the CDC stated, “…affect the ability of antibodies generated through a previous natural infection or through vaccination to recognize and neutralize the virus.” What that means is the current vaccines may be less effective against the P.1 version of COVID-19.

People are unfortunately losing their lives from this virus and its versions either directly or from aggravation of preexisting conditions caused by the virus.

As I said before, you may have the virus or some version of it and not know it. While most of us, I like to think, would never purposely infect someone else with a life-threatening virus, there are some of us out there who will not wear a mask for some reason or another.

I get it because they are hard to breathe in and they fog glasses.

I work in one every day. I would like to not wear one at all, but I wear one not just because my place of employment requires it but because I want to protect myself, the people I love and other people I may never know.

I think it is a gesture of goodwill.

With four variants known to exist, COVID-19 has whatever the current U.S. population is times four for potential chances of infecting you. Then, you potentially infect someone you love, then your neighbor, then possibly me and possibly my mom.

A mask will not be the catchall to contain COVID-19, which can cause a lot more heartache, but it helps keep down the spread.

It does not take much to become infected, and it does not take much to help slow the spread.

What I will do is wear a mask. Will you wear a mask?

Question this issue:

“In what ways have you adjusted to taking online courses? Has it been easier or more difficult in terms of workflow and learning?”

Kylee Richey

I have adjusted to taking online courses by taking time for myself to do my assignments and study for exams and quizzes, relying on myself to get my homework done on time, and not slacking off. For me it has been both easy and difficult. By easy I mean I get the information right then and there and no extra, useless discussions. It is difficult because sometimes we do not get all the information we need for exams and it is effortless to slack off and forget to do school.

Major: Radiology

Hometown: Lufkin

Makenzie Ray

With online courses, I have had to become more self-disciplined and responsible when it comes to class work. Time management has also been something I’ve had to work on when it comes to online courses. In terms of workflow, I would say it has been about the same compared to an in-person class, and while learning takes a bit longer, it’s still manageable.

Major: Dual-Credit High School Student

Hometown: Hudson

Microbiology labs meeting on campus

Dr. Paula Nellessen is instructing class on campus. (Photo by Laura Hanes)
Abbigail Castleberry is igniting a Bunsen burner in the biology lab. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
James Chambers uses the microscopes available in the Angelina College Biology lab. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
Lorene Macias is assisted by Dr. Paula Nellessen during an in-person Microbiology class. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
Hallie Martin studies in the lab while keeping social distance and wearing her mask. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)
Norma Perez and Dr. Paula Nellessen discuss Biology on-campus. (Photo by Lauren Hanes)

Family Crisis Center employees educate AC students

by Josh Giles, Pacer editor 

​Employees of the Family Crisis Center of East Texas educated Angelina College students and others Wednesday, Jan. 27 about their services, including sexual assault and domestic violence, at a Lunch and Learn sponsored by the Student Life Division at Angelina College.

​Greta Rich and Stuart Burson, employees of the center, met via Google Meet to give information on the 30-year-old center’s programs and services.

​The center is an emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence. While the victims are at the center, employees provide support groups, a children’s advocacy program, and a sexual assault program, which had 1278 clients in 2019. Also, the center provided 2847 hours of counseling for 352 clients in 2019.

​Almost all of the services provided are free with the center’s funding coming from state and federal grant funding, private and family foundation funding, the United Way and donations from people and local businesses. 

Also, sales from the center’s two thrift stores in Lufkin and Nacogdoches help fund their outreach programs. 

Burson informed the audience about prevention programming, relationships (friends, family members and romantic relationships) and the importance of consent. 

At the end, audience members were able to ask questions about the presentation and how to become a volunteer. The 24-hour crisis hotline is 1-800-828-7233. 

More Lunch and Learn events will be held throughout the semester, and every time an AC student participates in a Student Life online event, he or she will be entered into a drawing for one of six grand prizes at the end of the semester. 

For upcoming events, check out the Student Life page on the AC Portal on the college’s website.

Family Crisis Center of East Texas services 9 counties in East Texas. (Photo contributed)
The proceeds from the two thrift stores in Lufkin and Nacogdoches all go toward the life-saving programs offered at the center. (Picture contributed)
Stuart Burson gave a lecture on prevention programming to AC students in attendance. (Screenshot by Josh Giles)

Virtual sports trivia a touchdown

by Josh Giles, Pacer editor

​A sports trivia night was held by Angelina College’s Student Life department via Google Meet Wednesday, Jan. 27.

​The event brought together students of various majors and backgrounds to meet on the trivia battlefield and test their sports knowledge for prizes and bragging rights.

​The scores were very close during the match, with the top two contestants within a few points of each other most of the time. 

When the metaphorical dust settled, the champion of the evening was Holden Paulette, winning a Google Chromecast device. In a close second place was Terrence Harris, and third place was Sherina Argumon. 

The next trivia night will be held on Feb. 9, and the theme will be black history. Check the Student Life calendar on the AC Portal on Angelina College’s website.  

Sports trivia winners during the first Student Life trivia of the Spring 2021 semester. (Screenshot by Josh Giles)

Angelina College releases fall 2020 President’s Honor List

Angelina College officials and faculty members have released the names of 116 students named to the President’s Honor List for the fall 2020 semester.

To qualify, students must have enrolled in at least 12 semester hours of college-level work and have attained a grade point average of 4.0.

The names of students who make the President’s Honor List are posted at the end of each long semester.

Making the President’s Honor List are Bradley Barrow from Alto; Sandy Garcia from Chireno; Lauren Brittain and Chelsey Morgan from Cleveland; Katy Burris and Maxsimiliano Munoz from Corrigan; Brandon Galloway, Cristian Hernandez, Gloria Hernandez, Raquel Nambo, Daniel Sandoval, Leanna Tran, Erick Villanueva and Samantha Wiley from Crockett; Samuel Belasco, Lorie Lindsey, Zoey Robuck, Yvette Rocha, Yvonne Rocha, Angeli Sandoval, Hannah Scoggin and Dalia Silva from Diboll; and Natalie Forrest from Douglass.

Other students making the list include Brandee Tarver from Etoile; Joel Roberts from Farmington, Missouri; Jaycee Graham and Walker Webb from Grapeland; Conner Gilchrist from Hempstead; Krista Arnold, Ericka Baxter, Abbigail Castleberry, Taelor Miller, Joshua Mullin, Katelyn Rogers and Natalie Wych from Huntington; Oluseyi Iwaloye from Huntsville; Amanda Morris from Kennard; and Jayme Nazworth, Emily Nerren, Laney Rustin and Sabrena Saldana from Livingston.

Students from Lufkin making the Honor List are Laurel Abney, Sarah Ackley, Jonathan Aguilar, Lisette Aguilar, Emma Airington, Amanda Anderson, Chase Arriola, Brent Barber, Heather Barney, Tara Bocock, Ryan Bowers, Autumn Capps, Jacob Carr, Amanda Carroll, Heather Chenet, Jordan Coleman, Yaneice Deleon, Sergio Diaz, Nevaeh Donaldson, Felicity Estrada, Kaylee Frazier, Michael Gollot, Lindsey Johnson, Marjorie Kelley, Matthew Lewing, Maci Lightfoot and Breanna Lipscomb.

Other students from Lufkin include Marvin Mendoza, Jessica Morris, Eduardo Nava, Lissette Pena, Amanda Perry, Vanessa Ramos, Wendy Ramos, Abigail Rangel, Isaiah Resendez, Mariela Ruiz Hernandez, Sherrill Sanford, Madilyn Simmons, Evelyn Solis, Nancy Stephens, Colton Thompson, Dustin Ulrichson, Paige Wiley and Hannah Wilson.

 Also making the President’s Honor List are Hannah Alexander, Celeste Carpenter, Brandi Doughty, Natalie Garcia, Guadalupe Juarez, Gunner Micheli, Dianna Perez, Truong Pham, Britney Porter, Andres Ruiz, Viviana Santoyo, Nathan Smith and Landon Thompson from Nacogdoches; Contessa Sanford from Onalaska; Brooklyn Hughes, Cesar Lopez and Jonathan Shepherd from Pollok; Kaitlynn Joyner from Rusk; and Javier Avila and Case Woods from San Augustine.

Other students making the list include Amber Wilburn from Shelbyville; Amy Downs from Tatum; Karina Giron from Trinity; Breanna Holcomb and Laura Vann from Warren; Christian Kaster from White Oak; Sean Netterville and Theresa Speaks from Woodville; and Don Easley and Lindsay Harper from Zavalla.

AC students started new hobbies during the pandemic

By Ty Thomason, graphic arts student

The pandemic has been an interesting and strange time for everyone. Some people have begun using the surplus of free time from the quarantine to indulge in new hobbies and activities.

Emily Morgan, a student at Angelina College, has chosen a unique path to spend her free time. She decided to start 3D printing, a form of printing using various materials, mainly plastics, in three dimensions.

This allows one to print pretty much anything he or she can think of. From simple figurines to more complex devices, if one puts the time and effort into it, one can print it.

“It is something I have always been interested in,” Morgan said, “and with the pandemic going on, I have had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with.”

She said while she has not printed anything big yet, she has had a lot of fun with smaller prints and is planning several future projects. Her main plans are to be able to print things with a practical use.

Morgan said, “There are countless things I need to buy that I could just print on my 3D printer.”

Another student, Jake McElroy, has leaned more towards reading, collecting memorabilia from his childhood and working on model kits.

McElroy said, “I have always enjoyed reading, and I have been able to read a lot more because of the pandemic.”

These activities can usually be quite time consuming, mainly the model kits. Model kits can range from anything like model airplanes to characters from pop culture.

Angelina College has a powerful 3-D printer in the computer lab at the art building. (Photo by Reginald Reynolds)

Teaching art a challenge during COVID pandemic

By Lauren Hanes, graphic arts student

Le’Anne Alexander, Angelina College art instructor, has faced some challenges teaching art classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alexander has found some advantages as well as disadvantages with online classes.

She said, “Some students excel at the independent study because they can do it on their own time with no distractions.”

Another part of online classes that Alexander likes is the fact that “video lectures can be played back, so students do not miss anything.”

A couple of the problems she has experienced with online classes include student motivation (procrastination) and no set time for classes because of student availability.

The main challenge involves not being able to see what the students are doing.

She said, “I cannot be standing with the students, like in the studio, watching and seeing how they respond to an image and offer help. Now, I have to wait for the students to take the step to ask for help.”

Other challenges include communication and the Internet.

She said, “The communication between student and teacher is harder because there is no face to face, and Wifi connections can be very inconsistent.”

Alexander believes the students’ biggest challenge is motivation.

She said, “Though a lot of ways and tools are provided for the students to learn, they must take the time and effort to use them.”

The instructor is ready to start having classes on campus once again.

She said, “I miss the gallery shows and being able to see the students and learn their personalities.”

Le’Anne Alexander, Angelina College art instructor, uses Google Hangouts to help instruct her art students remotely. (Photo contributed)
Caitlyn Meyers made this piece, Meaning of Life, with conte crayon on paper during Mrs. Alexander’s drawing class held remotely in Fall 2020. (Photo contributed)
Michael Gollott did this piece, Primary Colors, with acrylic gouache on paper during his online design course in Fall 2020, taught by Mrs. Alexander. (Photo contributed)

Angelina College releases fall 2020 Dean’s Honor List

Angelina College officials and faculty members have released the names of 169 students named to the Dean’s Honor List for the fall 2020 semester.

To qualify for the Dean’s List, students must have enrolled in at least 12 semester hours of college-level work and have attained a grade point average of 3.5 with no grade lower than a “C.”

The names of students who make the Dean’s Honor Lists are posted at the end of each long semester.

Making the Dean’s Honor List for the fall semester are Fatima Davis and Susan Walding from Apple Springs; Dakota Matthews from Beaumont; Ashton Hall from Bon Weir; Bailee Bishop from Brookeland; Andrew Little and Jessica Little from Burke; Elisabeth Landrum from Charlestown, Indiana; Daniel Vivas from Coldspring; Hannah Mannino from Colmesneil; Rodney Jolly and Perla Ocampo Rodriguez from Crockett; and Leslye Carreon Magdaleno, Ariadna Hernandez and Elizabeth Luna from Diboll.

Other students include Lindsey Mims from Etoile; Mary Watson from Grapeland; Haley Lightsey, Danny Luna, Michael Turner and Kalie Voss from Groveton; Erika Baker from Hemphill; Aubraysha Lacy from Hudson; Jennifer Carter, Sadie Felts, Emmy Howard and Charles Naumann from Huntington; Edna Chebochok and Serah Muchina from Huntsville; Charlotte Lemoine from Jasper; and Nicholas Pennington from Kennard.

 Also on the list are Lillie Dubreuil, Briana Earnest, Samantha Goodman, Jessica Harrell, Maghen Maynes, Brieanna Henry, Summer Hoffer, Justin Holliman, Holly Lenox, Kristen Lofton, Zachary McDaniel, Krislyn Patterson, Brittany Walters, Kristal Welsh, Alexis Wilkerson and Frances Zuniga from Livingston; and Hanna York from Lovelady.

Students making the list from Lufkin include Irvin Aguilar, Karla Aguilar, Rogelio Alvarado, Kimberly Armijo, Lesley Barrientos, Linda Beauchamp, Alayna Betts, Brittany Burke, Kaitlyn Carrier, Hector Cerda, April Cook, Kayleigh Daniels, Shannon Day, Eduardo Escobedo, Gabriela Espinoza, Shelby Finch, Sarah Freeman, Cynthia Garcia, Devin Garcia, Raquel Gonzalez, Nya Goodwin, Max Harkins, Gustavo Hernandez Montejano, Angel Hernandez, Heberto Herrada, Marilyn Huerta Delaiah Ibarra, Jestine Ilo, Kaaliyah Jackson, Andrea Janise, Keenan Johnson, Cameron Kesinger, Skylar King, Kaitlyn Lea, Collyn Lobb, Alexis Lopez and Luis Lopez.

Also from Lufkin are Christian Marquez, Christian Martinez, Adison Massie, Francis Maxon, Kaylee MaCarty, Chloe McCormick, Jack McElroy, Morgan McKay, Adriana Morales, Eric Morales, Leslie Moreno, Emily Morgan, Alexes Ochoa, Emily Olalde, Abigail Palacios, Reynaldo Perez, Brent Pigg, Nacholas Ray, Jared Reese, Destiney Renfro, Anna Reyes, Hunter Robertson, Guillermo Romero, John Ross, Dianna Saenz, Joel Salazar, Jase Schoenthaler, Jessica Seymore, Richard Shoffitt, Jayla Simmons, Kelly Smith, Christian Sprinkle, Erin Sprinkle, Taylor Stein, Rebecca Stringer, Cooper Thornton, Mikaela Torres, Johnny Trapp, Megan Turrentine, Julissa Villegas, Chloe Vineyard, Marissa Wall, Kelcye Wallace, Timothy Ward and Jaden Wortham.

Other students making the list are Marley Tambunga from Monahans; Cesar DeJesus and Shandalyn Harrell from Moscow; Mitzi Balderas, Avery Coe, Anthony Flores, Emily Gonzalez, Diego Guerrero, Mireya Guzman, Heather Harper, Stephanie Harris, Katelyn Jones, Adam Luman, Matthew Munsinger, Ashlee Payne, Hector Ramirez, Wendy Rogers, Haner Rosales, Caleb Servin, Kaleigh Smith and Blake Wilson from Nacogdoches; Christina Hadnot from Newton; De’Shaynelle Arline from Oakhurst; Megan Williams from Onalaska; Leah Ferguson from Pineland; Kaylyn Kolb, Paige Laviolette and Mikaela Sullivan from Pollok; Cynthia Bahena, Ashleigh Fuller and Abigail Guerrero from San Augustine; Lindsay Jones from Trinity; Sven Van den Oever from Veldhoven, The Netherlands; Jolea Mashaw from Warren; Cortney Jones from Wells; Jamie Vose from Winnsboro; Paige Evans from Woodville; and Kaden Eastwood, Matthew Nunn and Macy Runnells from Zavalla.

Question this issue:​ ​

No matter who you voted for in the recent presidential election, our country is deeply divided. What can you do, personally, to ensure civil discourse (discussion) when talking to someone who holds a different viewpoint from your own?”

Caitlin Sheffy

When discussing politics, I tend to stray away from bringing up he say/she say topic, though it is almost impossible to do that with the current two political parties. It is always easier to discuss topics when we are using statements that are backed up by evidence to debate the parties or to simply make it clear where we stand on our own views.

Major: Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Hometown: Livingston, TX

Matthew Gresham

I can respect the other person’s opinion regardless of whether I agree with it or not.

Major: Graphic Arts

Hometown: Hudson

Baley Linton

I believe that it can be difficult sometimes to engage in a civil conversation with someone who holds different views from you. In most cases, it ends with arguing and bickering. As I have grown to have my own political opinions, I have learned one thing: whatever you may say to people, they will still continue to have their own beliefs even if you prove them wrong. What people should do, personally, to ensure that a civil discussion takes place is to first grasp the understanding that the other people may not listen to you or change their beliefs no matter what you say. For a conversation to be civil, I believe that both parties need to understand that the goal is not about pushing the other person to believe the same way as you (which is very unlikely) but instead to have the other person at least understand WHY you have that belief. All people have their own set of beliefs, and they will certainly stick to them no matter what facts or resources are thrown at them. Even if I strongly do not agree with other people, I will still respect their beliefs, because I believe that we are all allowed to have our own point of view on any situation. (However, for me, this does not apply to subjects such as racism, homophobia, etc. I do not tolerate anyone who is hateful towards others.) Overall, people need to understand that it will be highly difficult to change a person’s political beliefs. Arguing and yelling with them will only fuel the fire; it is important to sit down and talk calmly with them—make it an opportunity to learn something new and see things from their viewpoint.

Major: Nursing

Hometown: Lufkin

Matthew Kitchens

Listen to his or her assertions with an open mind, and then either respond with your oppositional take and provide evidence and reasoning for it when asked or recognize that he or she might have a point or an alternative set of ideals and leave it at that.

Major: Graphic Design

Hometown: Lufkin

Jake McElroy

The key to making good conversation on a topic so divisive is to let emotion go and think rationally. Many people, if not every single person, will speak passionately about politics and current events. With passionate emotions comes civil disputes if you are not careful. So it is best to look at everything objectively when talking about that kind of stuff. I do not like talking about politics and the likes with people I do not know because I cannot be sure how they would react. So the second tip is to not engage with people whom you are not sure about. You never know what could happen. But if you must, speak cautiously and thoughtfully.

Major: Computer Science

Hometown: Tomball

Student Life is hosting some great events this semester

Lunch and Learn Google Meet Link:
Trivia Tuesday Google Meet Link:

Angelina College was closed on Monday’s snow day

The roadrunner statue at Angelina College’s entrance is covered in snow on Monday. (Photo by Janice Paxson)
The parking lot was empty on Monday morning since in-person classes were canceled on campus. (Photo by Janice Paxson)
Icy road conditions early Monday morning were the reason for class cancelations. (Photo by Janice Paxson)
Angelina College student common areas were frozen and powdered with snow on Monday morning. (Photo by Janice Paxson)
Icy walkways would have made in-person classes difficult during the winter weather. (Photo by Janice Paxson)
Angelina athletics took a pause during the cold, snowy weather day. (Photo by Janice Paxson)

Angelina College police academy graduates 26 cadets

By Gary Stallard, AC News Service

The Angelina College Police Academy graduated 26 new cadets on Monday, Dec. 7 in a ceremony inside AC’s Hudgins Hall Auditorium.

AC Police Chief Doug Conn addressed students in the Class 107 for their dedication to completing the rigorous course and reminded them to take the same dedication into their careers in law enforcement.

“Our ceremony may be a virtual one, but graduating a police academy is honorable no matter how you do it,” Conn said. “You’re going to leave here, and you’re going to find your niche in law enforcement. When you do, you follow it as far as you can.

“Anything you can do to serve your community, you do it. It’s important to do your job in a professional and ethical manner. If something seems like it’s wrong, it probably is.”

The graduating cadets of Class 107 include Marcus Bailey, Chondra Beaty, Kendall Benfer and Victoria Brooks of Livingston; James Copeland of Garrison; Jordan Courtney of Zavalla; Jake Forman of Lufkin; Darien Francis of Houston; Gustavo Garcia of Lufkin; Jonathan Gomez of Huntsville; Korey Kirkpatrick of Livingston; Joseph Lewien of Colmesneil; Adam McDowell of Onalaska; Jared Miller of Rusk; Dustin Montgomery of Livingston; Michael Murff of Crockett; Kimberly Reed of Lovelady; Kasey Ryan of Newton; Jesse Shaver of Jasper; Thomas Smith of Jacksonville, North Carolina; Coty Sterling of Buna; Seth Thompson and Robert Twine of Huntsville; Travis Vaughn of Milam; Zachery White of Lufkin; and Shawn Wood of Jasper.

The class valedictorian was Thomas Smith; the Top Gun and Best Driver awards recipient was Marcus Bailey.

Academy staff members include Doug Conn, chief of police; Lt. Jason Burrous, training manager; Lt. Randy Holland, training manager; Officer Jack Stephenson, training specialist; and Kim Capps, administrative assistant.

Angelina College was issued a license to operate a police academy in 12 East Texas counties in September of 1993 by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. The academy offers basic and in-service training courses at sites throughout Deep East Texas with the assistance of an advisory board, which assists in directing the academy.

Cadets from Class 107 of the Angelina College Police Academy graduated on Monday, Dec. 7. A total of 26 future peace officers received their recognition in a ceremony held at AC’s Hudgins Hall Auditorium. (Photo by Gary Stallard/AC News)
Angelina College Police Academy instructor Lt. Jason Burrous addresses cadets during a graduation ceremony Monday, Dec. 7 at Hudgins Hall Auditorium on the AC campus. AC Academy Class 107 graduated a total of 26 cadets.  (Photo by Gary Stallard/AC News)

AC’s workforce and continuing education division receives simulation-based training equipment

By Esmeralda Ramos, graphic arts student

AC’s Workforce and Continuing Education Division received on Nov. 6 new equipment from L3Harris Technologies, an agile global aerospace and defense technology innovator who delivers end-to-end solutions that meet customers’ mission-critical needs.

This new equipment will be used for simulation-based training, allowing students to expose themselves to various challenging and hazard-laden scenarios in a controlled environment. 

Students can record operator reactions and response times and provide after-action reviews that point out performance improvement areas for each driver.

The simulator-based training approach improves critical driving skills, enhances decision making abilities and increases the safety of the students’ operations.

Angelina College was able to procure some amazing new equipment. (Photo by Esmeralda Ramos)
With this new equipment, Angelina College is able to instruct on a whole new level. (Photo by Esmeralda Ramos)

AC theatre department performs “A Christmas Carol” over YouTube

By Libby Stapleton, Journalism Instructor and Coordinator of Student Publications

The Angelina College department of theatre is presenting “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens on YouTube. The performance was adapted for radio from Dickens’s novella by Anthony E. Palermo.

Characters in the radio play include Ebenezer Scrooge played by Tyler Arnold, Marley’s Ghost read by Ben Reynolds, First Spirit by Sarah Jackson, Second Spirit read by Eric Smith, Third Spirit and Buck played by Cedric Carson Jr., Nephew Fred by River Delcambre and Belle played by Jade Wilson.

Other characters include Bob Cratchit played by Cody Carter, Mrs. Cratchit read by Alyssa Moss, Poole by Daniel Vivas, Mr. Fezziwig played by Riley Ellidge, Martha Cratchit and Young Caroler read by Lindsey Dobbins, Tiny Tim Cratchit by Bennett Reed, Peter Cratchit played by Nicholos Trusclair, Lamb read by Meredith Taylor and The Narrator by Andrew Reed.

Reed directed the radio play, and Taylor was the audio engineer and editor.

The original musical score was composed and arranged by Palermo.

“A Christmas Carol” tells the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, a hard-hearted miser who is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve and is forced to visit his past, present and future self.

During this time of social distancing and wearing masks, the Reed had to be creative and look at alternative ways to perform and reach an audience. He said he had been fortunate enough “to work on this production years ago live on stage with live sound effects.” But he knew that the show had been originally a radio production, and he said, “[T]his seemed like the perfect time to bring this show to life again.”

The theatre department hopes “this production is able to bring people cheer during the holiday season,” Reed said. “We are looking at continuing to do radio-style productions this spring.”

Ben Reynolds, Nicholos Trusclair, and Daniel Vivas on stage in the Temple Theatre. (Photo by Matt Gresham)
AC theatre players practice while maintaining social distancing and proper social guidelines. (Photo by Matt Gresham)

New holiday recipes to try

By Hanna Eddings, graphic arts student

This holiday season will probably have many new things on people’s plates whether that means seeing fewer family members this year, trying to keep the family outside for safety measures or possibly even having virtual gatherings through a video chat.

Some AC instructors have shared some of their favorite holiday recipes to add to the list of new things for the holiday, and they are vegetarian.

Annette Gillum’s Cranberry Grape Salad

(found at a church holiday party)

(Photo from Reluctant Entertainer)


2 cups of fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar (Gillum recommends a little less if you enjoy a tart flavor.)

1 cup red seedless grapes, cut into halves

½ cup chopped pecans

½ cup heavy cream


  1. The night before, chop the cranberries in a food processor, and mix them in a bowl with the sugar. Allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. The following morning, drain the excess juice.
  3. Add the chopped pecans and grapes cut into halves.
  4. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  5. Fold the cream into the fruit and nut mixture.
  6. Serve chilled.

Le’anne Alexander’s Cornbread Dressing

(found after becoming a vegan)

(Photo from My Quiet Kitchen)


1 batch Easy Vegan Cornbread

3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, diced

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

4 teaspoons dried sage

1 teaspoons dried thyme

½ teaspoon poultry seasoning

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons ground flax

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Then, crumble the cornbread, combine with broth in a large bowl, and mix until everything is thoroughly mixed. Set aside.
  2. Preheat a non-stick oven over medium heat, and add onions and celery. Cook until soft, roughly about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the onion mixture to the cornbread mixture and the seasonings, and mix well. Let sit 10 minutes. Add flax seed to mixture, and stir to combine. Transfer to a casserole dish.
  4. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to one hour.
  5. After top is cooked until golden, remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.

Austin’s Family’s Traditional Side

By Austin Pena


This is Thanksgiving season, and most people probably have planned their turkey dinners.

While Thanksgiving is a traditionally American holiday, that does not mean it is exclusive to just American traditions, especially with the food.

Below is a simple Filipino dish that can complement a roasted turkey and other dishes you may have on your table.

Pancit bihon is a Filipino dish derived from Chinese noodles. It has rice vermicelli with vegetables, meat (mostly pork and chicken) and Asian spices that are easily found in the Asian section of places like Walmart and HEB.

This is not a main dish by any means, but it goes well with a lot of other meals as a side dish. Here’s a simple variation of the recipe that my family uses.

1/2 kg pancit bihon/rice noodles
1/4 kg chicken breast, deboned and cut into thin slices
1/4 kg pork cut into thin, small slices
2 tbsp minced garlic (add more if desired)
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped (add celery and spring onions if desired)
2 medium-sized carrots, thinly sliced
1 medium-sized bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 chicken bouillon cube
5 tbsp soy sauce
3-4 cups water
5 tbsp oyster sauce
5 tbsp vegetable oil

Note: You can add more vegetables like snow peas, zucchini, green beans, and whatever is available in your refrigerator.


  1. Soak bihon/rice noodles in water for 10-15 minutes.
    2.         In a wok, sauté garlic and onion in vegetable oil.
    3.         Add in the pork and chicken, and let it cook for three minutes.
    4.         Add carrots first, followed by celery, bell pepper and cabbage.
    5.         Remove the vegetable from the wok, and set them aside on a plate.
    6.         Boil water in the wok.
    7.         Add a chicken bouillon cube, soy sauce, oyster sauce and black pepper powder.

Mix well.
8.         Add the bihon/rice noodles, and mix well.
9.         Add the vegetables, and let it simmer.

10.      Garnish with lemon and spring onion.
11.      Serve and enjoy!

Angelina College’s food pantry is holding another student event

Roadrunner Mobile Market will be back on Tuesday, December 8th, and Wednesday, December 9th, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in front of the Administration building. Simply pull up in your vehicle, give us your student id number, and get a free bag of groceries for the holiday break (limit one bag per student; while supplies last). Simple as that! These bags are a little different than usual! We have lots of products to help students over the long winter break (such as laundry detergent, etc). See you there ‘Runners!

-Jordan LaCaille, Student Life and Orientation Coordinator

Happy Thanksgiving Angelina College!

Illustration By Austin Pena

Lady Roadrunner softball signs area standout Fuentes

By Gary Stallard, AC Athletics

Sparkplug. Fireball. Catalyst. Playmaker.

Those are just a few of the words used to describe Diboll High School standout Hailey Fuentes, who has started for the Ladyjack softball team since her freshman season. Fuentes has played catcher and middle infield, has proven herself as a hard out to get at the plate and has contributed to Diboll’s presence as a perennial district championship contender.

However, the most apt description for a player of her dedication and caliber might just be “total softball player.”

Fuentes’ offering of the complete package earned her plenty of attention from next-level programs, but the Diboll dynamo signed her letter of intent with Angelina College in early November.

“I like that it’s close to home, and Coach [Josh] Barnes seems like a really good coach,” Fuentes said during a signing ceremony Saturday, Nov. 7. She added she hopes to bring leadership skills she learned under Ladyjack head coach Hayland Hardy to the Lady Runner lineup.

Fuentes said she sees her role as just finding a way to get on the field and finding ways to contribute, no matter where on the diamond she may find herself.

“I really like her energy,” Angelina College head softball coach Barnes said. “I love her explosiveness as an athlete, and she’s always playing with a smile. No matter what’s going on during a game, she’s competing with a smile, and that’s something we like in our program. I see her competing for a place anywhere on the field.

“Hailey’s in a slightly different mold for what some may consider a typical softball player. She’s small, but she’s fast and has a lot of pop in her bat. Those are qualities you can really see translating well at the next level.”

Following her sophomore season as a Ladyjack, Fuentes was named to the Texas Girls Coaches Association All-State list. She batted .265 with 12 RBI and six doubles in her freshman year and nearly launched a walk-off homer in the 2018 regional quarterfinals as part of the Ladyjacks’ historic season. A COVID-ruined junior season did nothing to lessen her reputation among her peers and coaches.

Fuentes said she plans to major in business at AC.

She is the daughter of Esmeralda and Olizer Juaraz.

Fuentes tag at home plate: Diboll’s Hailey Fuentes, left, makes a tag for an out at the plate during a 2018 Ladyjack game. Fuentes has signed her letter of intent to join the Angelina College Lady Roadrunner softball program beginning in the fall of 2021. (Photo credit- Gary Stallard)

AC S.P.E.A.K.S. collects shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child

By Ra’Nese Canada, graphic arts student

The student organization AC S.P.E.A.K.S. has been working on a project that will help many children who are in need.

Operation Christmas Child, an outreach ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, collects shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items every November. After the shoeboxes are processed in national collection centers, they are distributed all over the world.

For several years, AC S.P.E.A.K.S. has collected shoeboxes on the Angelina College campus, and its members have volunteered at the local regional collection center, which is Carpenter’s Way Baptist Church in Lufkin. However, this year is different because of the pandemic.

AC S.P.E.A.K.S. sponsor and speech instructor Sabrina Collins said, “Due to COVID, it has been more difficult to promote, distribute and collect shoeboxes on campus this year.”

The organization’s goal is to keep the tradition going this year during this difficult time. Members want to do their part to help children all over the world while also helping students see the importance of volunteerism in the community.

Kaylie Blaylock, left, pharmacy technician major, and Briana Macias, criminal justice major, hand out shoeboxes to be filled for the Operation Christmas Child program in the Angelina Center for the Arts. The students are members of the AC S.P.E.A.K.S. organization, sponsored by Sabrina Collins, speech instructor. Operation Christmas Child is an outreach ministry of Samaritan’s Purse that provides gift boxes to children in need around the world (Photo by Ra’Nese Canada)

New feature added to Blackboard

By Ra’Nese Canada, graphic arts student

Most of Angelina College’s classes have moved online because of the pandemic. Therefore, first-time students will be using Blackboard, the college’s learning management system, for the first time.

They will have access to the courses they are taking, their assignments, their grades, etc. Since almost no classes meet on campus this year, new students may have difficulty locating all the resources they need to help them succeed in school. This semester, AC has added a new feature that will make these resources more accessible.

Blackboard Assist is the new tool that can be used to access these resources from any computer. The tool consists of five categories of services: a link to the college Library, the Office of Student Success, the Testing Center, the Office of Access and Inclusion, and the Student Tutoring Center.

The Library helps students with any research they may be required to do in their courses. The Office of Student Success helps students register for the classes they need. The Testing Center offers proctoring services and a variety of certification examinations. The Office of Access and Inclusion helps to minimize barriers to success for students from all walks of life. And the Student Tutoring Center offers free online tutoring to all current AC students.

This new addition to Blackboard is designed to eliminate some stress that students may have going forward each semester.

Blackboard adds to the resources offer to AC students. (Image captured by Ra’Nese Canada)

AC’s Baldauf named president-elect of Texas Chapter of CRLA

In her time at Angelina College, Jennifer Baldauf has worn quite a few hats. From her beginning role as a counselor to her current position as Baldauf has served students in numerous capacities.

For her to take on yet another role would require a position she considers important, which is why she will be wearing yet another cap.

The Texas Chapter of the College Reading and Learning Association recently named AC’s Jennifer Baldauf, director of academic success (including academic advising, dual credit, retention, graduation and reverse transfer), as its president-elect for 2020.

Despite her already-busy life, Baldauf said the new role allows her to do what she hopes to do for every student.

“At the heart of everything I do is student success and just trying to make a little bit of a difference – even if it’s in the lives of just a few students,” Baldauf said. “Whatever I can do to advance that cause while supporting my peers and do whatever I can to make the world a little bit better and a little bit easier for so many folks who need education to change their lives, I’m going to do it.”

As the chapter’s president, Baldauf’s duties will include serving as program chair for the annual CASP conference; chairing the executive board and general membership meetings; and assisting the president in the administration of chapter business.

The organization is an arm of the College Academic Support Systems with the stated objective of advancing “the knowledge and interest of post-secondary educators working in learning assistance, developmental education, tutorial services and other programs of academic support and assistance.

Baldauf earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science from Texas A&M University and has worked in higher education for fifteen years. Her career began as an academic adviser at TAMU in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science. She then moved to Lufkin and became a counselor for Angelina College, and in 2018, she became the director of dual credit. In 2019, she became the director of academic success.

“I was a little terrified at first, but I’m grateful to have the confidence of the people with whom I work,” Baldauf said. “I know they’re going to support me on this, and like I said, this is so important to me, so I’ll make sure to do it well no matter how busy I am.” Baldauf lives in Lufkin with her husband and two children.

Angelina College Director of Academic Success Jennifer Baldauf has been named president-elect of the Texas Chapter of the College Reading and Learning Association. The organization assists post-secondary educators in several areas of student success. (Gary Stallard/AC News Service photo)

Question this issue:

“What are your plans for the Thanksgiving holiday, and are they different this year because of the pandemic?”

Alex Ranc

My plans for the Thanksgiving holiday are pretty much the same as last year—traveling to The Woodlands with my parents to visit my brother and his family. We are definitely taking more precautions than last year, i.e. wearing masks, limiting, especially my parents, to just being with close family, and trying to remain as socially distanced as possible. 

AC Speech Instructor

Hometown: Nacogdoches

Patrick Harvey

For Thanksgiving, my fiancée and I have decided to spend it with both our families eating and playing games like we do every year. Although this year we plan to use the guidelines to stay 6 feet away and wear masks to keep the elder people safe, not much is going to change other than that. 

Major: Graphic Arts

Hometown: Lufkin

AC registration rally was a success

Registration rally on Wednesday, November 18th from 8:30AM to 6:00PM was successful in getting many students registered for the Spring semester. (Photo by Josh Giles)
AC student Luis Michel Lopez and instructor Aaron Grimes in the library during the registration event. (Photo by Guillermo Gutierrez)
AC student Rebecca Staece and counselor Jennifer Baldauf in the AC library during the registration rally. (Photo by Guillermo Gutierrez)

AC students experiment with chemistry kits at home

By Guillermo Gutierrez, graphic arts student

Having to teach totally online this semester and part of last spring has been “a total game-changer for faculty,” Dr. Kirk Stephenson, chemistry instructor, said. “Especially challenging is moving a course online that requires a lot of physical activities, which in my case are chemistry labs.

Stephenson explained, “Most aspects of an experiment—materials acquisition, equipment setup, procedure implementation and data acquisition—rely heavily on physical actions. The basic lab courses are not based on ‘gedanken experiments’ (thought experiments); they are based on real experiments. The challenge, then, is designing an online course which teaches as many real world laboratory skill sets as possible.”

The two chemistry instructors at Angelina College, Stephenson, who teaches CHEM 1105, and Dr. Andrea Barrett, who teaches CHEM 1411 and CHEM 1412, are using different methods of online instruction, both of which are used across the nation. While Barrett is using a video-based approach, Stephenson is using what he calls an “at home chemistry kit.”

Stephenson’s students must purchase a kit code from the AC Campus Store to use to order the lab kit directly from the vendor, which is then shipped directly to the student. Stephenson said, “Students perform the experiments at home, according to the course schedule and provided documentation, and report their observations and calculations back to the instructor via Blackboard.”

No statistics about which method of conducting chemistry labs is better are available yet since the fall semester is the first full semester to offer distance labs.

Students in Dr. Kirk Stephenson’s chemistry course complete at-home experiments. (Photo contributed)
Students use Chafer Wick Fuel, normally used for buffet warming, in place of a bunsen burner to heat chemicals during their experiments. (Photo Contributed)
The kits come with all the tools and instructions needed to complete the experiments. (Photo contributed)
Scales are used to ensure accuracy in the at-home experiments, (Photo contributed)

The Story of an immigrant in America

By Austin Pena, graphic arts student

Angelina College student Toluwanimi Oladele-Ajose came to the United States at the age of 16 in 2017 from Nigeria, and he said, “It has been a wonderful experience for me ever since.”

The change was more than he had imagined. One change was to be able to see “animals I had only seen in textbooks or was taught about in Nigeria were now always at my backyard or on the road,” he said.

He arrived in the United States during the summer, but “[b]efore I knew it, summer had gone, and school had begun,” Oladele-Ajose said. After taking a placement exam, he was put into the 11th grade, which he found totally different from the schools in Nigeria that were traditionally British since the country was a British colony before it got its independence.

Oladele-Ajose said, “I had to adapt and succumb to the teaching of the American system. When school was in session, I discovered that there were distinguishable characteristics that showed how the culture varied between the two countries.”

 Nigeria is so proud of its culture “that it is seen as a taboo if a person doesn’t follow the norms of the society so much that a person could easily be castigated for it,” he said, “and sometimes it could lead to death if caution isn’t put to action. For example, people uphold greetings and how elders should be seen, and we have people in the northern region that go through extreme measures if a person does not denounce certain religions.”

In America, however, people are respectful, but that is not an obligation. Oladele-Ajose said, “The culture in the United States of America in my own perspective is seen as freedom and the coming together of people from different countries, ethnicities and religious groups to settle down in unity and to strive.”

He believes he was treated well in high school. He was not bothered by the many questions people would ask about his native country. However, he said, “But ever since I graduated from high school into the real world, I have found a bit of racial slurs that have offended me.”

Oladele-Ajose is currently taking classes at Angelia College with the hope of earning an associate degree in general studies. Afterward, he would like to transfer to a four-year college to get a bachelor’s degree in political science and then go to law school to become a lawyer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Oladele-Ajose’s learning. He said, “I like to have a teacher in the class explaining things to me, much rather than it just being posted and I having to figure it out by myself.” He added, “It has been tough times for everyone, but I believe that as long as we take proper precautions and do the right things, the COVID-19 pandemic will dissolve, and everything would be much better.”

Toluwanimi Oladele-Ajose came to America at the age of 16 and had to adapt to the high school experience here. (Photo contributed)

Question this issue:

“If you are planning to purchase one of the soon to be released gaming systems this holiday season, would you choose to buy the X Box Series X or the PlayStation 5 and why?”

Daniel Laenger

I would buy the PlayStation (5) if I was upgrading this Christmas. 

Major: Journalism/Communication.

Hometown: Shreveport

A pixel in time with Dr. Tom McKinney

By Hanna Eddings

Many of us think we know video games, but how many of us have paid active attention to the changes in video games from year to year? To go from playing “Pac-Man” to “Call of Duty” is a large jump through history; it is not only from the deeper plots, wider character variety or better graphics, but it is also the overall capacity for more elements that younger games did not possess the programming capability for.

AC’s Dr. Tom McKinney, director of learning resources, gave a more colorful outlook on video games through the years from his point of view as a historian who also has a love for video games.

McKinney said, “I would say the biggest change is the movement away from video games based on levels and bosses to a much more robust open-world video game like “Minecraft. 

“When you think of “Space Invaders” or “Centipede,” each level is the same, but the action speeds up. “Minecraft,” which I have only conquered twice since it first came out, can have a variety of goals, is infinitely re-playable and really is inexpensive.

“Video games that have a developed story is something that has changed from the ‘you-are-good-and-they-are-bad’ approach from the early games. Character development, which I suspect came from role-playing games, is also a nice improvement over past games. Custom-ization is also welcome – you can now create the character you play in the game.”

Another change from former games is the rise of multi-player team games. “You used to have four folks gathered around a game in an arcade,” McKinney said, “and now they can be scattered all over the globe. You also do not have to constantly feed quarters into the machine!

“I remember creating computer networks with my friends in my house to play video games with and against each other, so playing with others via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi is a great improvement. It is also a lot cheaper!”

McKinney added that the three-dimensional graphics on today’s video games have made them “astounding. I remember games like the original ‘DOOM’ or ‘Marathon’ that tried their best to mimic what you now get with games like ‘Oceanhorn’ of ‘Call of Duty.’ 

“It’s just phenomenal! Games like ‘Mario Kart’ and ‘Gran Turismo’ are masterpieces of 3D design compared to games like ‘Gran Trak’ and ‘Pole Position.’”

He also believes having “amazing 3D graphics” in some popular games is amusing because the “8-bit games like ‘Minecraft’ are still around and popular.”

Taking a look at video games throughout their existence, McKinney believes they will only get better.

He said, “As a historian, I have always been interested in how things develop, and I am utterly amazed at how far and how quickly video games have come from the first game of ‘Pong’ I played as a kid. 

“If you gave me something like ‘Pokemon Go’ when I was younger, I would have thought you were some sort of wizard, but today that is considered somewhat arcane. I suspect that games will incorporate more virtual reality and more detailed 3D graphics as game design advances.

McKinney summed up his love for video games when he said, “For me, it is all about a good story. You can have all of the visual bells and whistles you want, but if that is all there is, it is probably not a game I want to play.”

The same way we have watched movies and music progress and alter in our lifetimes, video games have quietly been doing the same only at a faster rate. Many people only have an interest in video games during certain times in their lives, and forgetting about that hobby can lead many of us to no longer noticing the advancements the gaming world has made after we left it. But whether from an artistic interest, technological interest, or simply an interest in the growth of the world around you, video games are a wonderful thing to take note of in our lives.

They are not likely to ever go away; they will always be here and continue to advance, so even if you are not someone who enjoys playing video games, there is a greater appreciation you may have for something that has caused such nostalgia for so many people.

Many people like McKinney were so moved as a child when “Pong” came out, the first-ever at-home video game, that they spent their hard-earned yard mowing money on the game, and the experience of watching two lines and a dot move on a screen moved people to fall in love with a new hobby. Even McKinney said he felt as though he had “died and gone to heaven” when playing “Pong.” That is a lot to say about a black and white game with no characters and three figures.

Video games have evolved leaps and bounds over the last several decades. (Photo by Josh Giles)

Election day is November 3rd! Go vote!

Voting can be scary, but do not let that stop you from casting your ballot! No matter who you decide to vote for, have your vote counted. (cartoon by Austin Pena)

AC instructor Grimes named president of TADE

By Gary Stallard, AC sports information

Angelina College’s Aaron Grimes was selected recently as president of the Texas Association of Developmental Education, which is the Texas chapter of the National Organization for Student Success.

 The Lufkin native, an instructor in AC’s School of Arts and Education, said TADE “exists to provide useful tools, resources and support to all college faculty and employees.”

“One of the most beneficial opportunities we provide is our state College Academic Support Programs conference,” Grimes said. “We work with the Texas chapter of the College Reading and Learning Association to bring this quality conference to Texas every year.

“The element of developmental education, as any educator well knows, is in a constant state of flux and change, and the CASP conference addresses many of these changing issues in developmental education. We are proud to be the Texas state chapter of NOSS, and we are also proud of the fact that we are one of the largest chapters in the organization, serving a vast array of colleges across our state.” 

Grimes said his organization recently launched a new website ( in an effort to establish a web presence to “unify our processes and communicate more efficiently.”

“My main focus for TADE is to strengthen what we already have in place,” Grimes said. “We will substantially improve our conference and what it offers.”

NOSS, according to information located on its website, “exists to assist educational professionals in making a positive difference in the lives of students.”

“The Texas chapter of NOSS pledges to do the same,” Grimes said. “TADE helps provide a quality professional conference that offers professionals the latest in research and tremendous opportunities to network with colleagues regarding what works best in post-secondary developmental education.”

 Grimes earned his associate of applied science degree from AC and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University. Prior to arriving at AC as an instructor, Grimes was an English teacher at Nacogdoches High School for 10 years.

“I am following some extremely talented and innovative leaders,” Grimes said. “I consider it a great honor to have the confidence of the CASP board and membership in my leadership. This is a great opportunity to help provide direction and support to those involved in developmental education. Struggling students need support and guidance. “I am reminded of something John Andrew Holmes said: ‘There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.’ We help get students to the next level.” 

Angelina College School of Arts and Education instructor Aaron Grimes recently was named president of the Texas Association of Developmental Education, which is the Texas chapter of the National Organization for Student Success. (Gary Stallard/AC Press photo)

Film and graphic design instructor describes teaching during pandemic

By Guillermo Gutierrez, graphic arts student

Angelina College graphic arts instructor Reg Reynolds has found adapting to teaching virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic a challenge but also stimulating.

He said, “Learning to teach online was an exercise in flexibility. Working from home, I found I had long stretches of time to write and produce content for all my classes.

“I have been shooting video programs that present the principles and elements of design, lighting for film, history of art for Art Appreciation and various graphic arts assignments. I also made several commercials about AC.”

According to Reynolds, the challenge was in presenting “design concepts to students who are all home-bound, but most students accepted the challenge.”

With AC’s enrollment figures down for the fall semester, Reynolds was surprised that the graphic arts classes were filled. He said, “I never thought that online classes would be so popular.”

Reynolds believes that many people think one does not have to go to college to learn design because everything you need to know is on YouTube; however, he believes they are wrong. He said, “This approach lacks the input and guidance of seasoned instructors who are passionate about their areas of study.”

While online learning has its challenges, Reynolds said, “We have learned that we can in fact learn to thrive in online classes. No, there are no in-person critiques, but we can still meet in our Collaborate space and share our ideas and learn from each other. And here is an interesting discovery: Some students do well working remotely.”

However, Reynolds believes that more learning happens when the students are working together with their peers and the instructors in a studio or lab setting. He said, “Exciting things happen that would not happen when working alone. The personal dynamic that develops between students and professors in the lab, the studio and on-location is so very valuable. In the virtual classroom students cannot interact with fellow students or exchange ideas in real time or engage with a crew to solve design problems. Plato said, ‘There is always something ponderous and one-sided about the learning of the self-taught.’ ”

Reynolds does not know when everyone can return to the classroom, but he said, “I know that our college administration is doing an exemplary job of keeping students and faculty safe.”

When face-to-face classes do resume, he believes the way design classes are taught will be evolving away from the “formula” and go more toward artificial intelligence, which will “build an algorithm incorporating all of the principles and elements of design and stylistic nuances into a work. The client will go to a website and machine learning will design a logo, a build-board, a magazine cover or a page layout in just a few seconds. You might think this would make a college degree obsolete. This is wrong thinking.”

At Angelina College, the design instructors are trying “to differentiate the student from the unremarkable, typical designer,” according to Reynolds. “We believe that trying various methods to achieve new visual impact often results in an uncommon outcome. Those of us who teach design believe that everything a student will encounter in their career, from the most mundane and ordinary assignment to the extraordinary client who wants something exceptional, should always work to transform their designs into something surprising and magical.

“We believe that the student will always discover inspiration from within in their quest for the uncommon.”

Demee Martinez, AC graphic arts student, mans the video camera with Michael Gollot, right, as assistant director on one of the teams for an assignment in Reg Reynolds’ TV/video class the week of Oct. 12. (Photo by Guillermo Gutierrez)
Adjunct instructor Steve Paul, left, plays the part of the scientist during one of Reg Reynolds’ TV/video classes the week of Oct. 12. Hunter Cruz, middle, is on sound while Michael Gollot, right, directs. Not shown is Audrey Romo on lights. (Photo by Guillermo Gutierrez)

Struggles of an immigrant

By Ra’Nese Canada, graphic arts student

Angelina College’s Student Life department honored Hispanic Heritage Month on Tuesday, Oct. 13 by presenting a Ted Talk by Elizabeth Camarillo Gutierrez titled “What’s Missing from the American Immigrant Narrative?”

Gutierrez talked about her personal story of immigrating to the United States as well as the flaws in narratives that idealize the immigrant experience.

The first narrative she talked about is the idea of the immigrant worker. She discussed how immigrants come to the United States to search for any good opportunities for work and how the news media made America’s relationship with immigrants complicated.

The second narrative she talked about is the idea of the super immigrant. She discussed how America idolizes super immigrants as the ideal symbols of American success and that America thinks of immigrants who fail to succeed or do not succeed in the same way as less than good.

Gutierrez also discussed the struggles she faced when immigrating to the United States. Her parents and younger brother were forced to go back to Mexico while she stayed behind. Once she graduated from college, she flew her brother to the United states to live with her, so he could pursue his education. She has also pursued a career that helped her family find financial stability.

Watching this presentation helped me learn more about immigration and the struggles that come along with it from someone’s personal perspective. Gutierrez’s story was inspiring, and it left an amazing message about strength and perseverance.

Ted Talk by Elizabeth Camarillo Gutierrez on Oct 13th

AC staff and students gathered via Zoom on Friday, October 13th to discuss political issues, ask questions and voice their own opinions. (Screenshot by Matthew Gresham)

AC Student Life celebrated Hispanic heritage month with Armando Palomino, the assistant director of academic success, presenting My Story. My Superpower. He shared his empowering story with AC students virtually for the first time. (Screenshot by Josh Giles)

The Pacer’s own Matthew Gresham is halloween-ready dressed in his movie accurate Indiana Jones outfit (leather whip included). (photo contributed)

AC’s new website is up and running

Angelina College has announced a brand new look to its website (

The site has the ability to change from English to Spanish with a click of a button. Also, it is ADA compliant. 

Krista Brown, executive director of marketing and strategic enrollment, said, “Our goal is to make the website as simple as possible while using the portal to compliment the site for our current students and faculty. We are excited about the opportunities this new website will bring to our community.”

Angelina College has rolled out a new look to its website at

AC instructor Larry Greer shares his views on virtual learning

“How has your teaching changed with most classes being online because of the pandemic?”

As it has been for many, the changes brought on by the pandemic have created formidable challenges for Larry Greer, music instructor at Angelina College.

Greer said, “The transition to teaching online was a bit rocky getting started. The good news is my knowledge of technology has increased considerably, and I have been steadily discovering new ways of teaching.

“I enjoy the classes I live stream more than the classes that are all online. They are almost as good as face-to-face for live interaction between students and instructor.

“For the all online classes, it is difficult to just put content out there and have email conversations. I think humans need a degree of social interaction to add meaning and depth to learning. “This is especially true in the world of music. In reference to music, technology is a little behind; however, the tech world seems to have a way to create and adapt where there is a need.”

Larry Greer

Roadrunner athletes deal with pandemic problems

By Ra’Nese Canada, graphic arts student

 As most people in the Angelina College community and the surrounding area know, AC suspended all sports until the fall semester of 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, people have been wondering how the coaches and athletes have reacted to this suspension.

 As far as the coaches are concerned, Gary Stallard, AC sports information director, said,
“What I am seeing the coaches do now is getting ready for next year. They are still on the recruiting trail.”

When the suspension was announced, the coaches approached the players and asked them if they wanted to stay at AC and wait to be able to play, save their eligibility, and play when the suspension is lifted or did they feel it was important to them to leave and find somewhere else to play.

 The coaches helped the athletes who decided to leave the school to find other schools where they could play this year.

The time off from playing sports has given the coaches time to find the players they want for the 2021-2022 year. Stallard said, “Our coaches’ reputations and attitude about their program is going to bring a lot of people into play. As far as recruiting, anything like this is going to affect it in a way, but I think these coaches have figured out how to overcome it, and they are finding players who want to play for this program.”

Approximately 35 of AC’s student athletes decided to stay in school here for the academics this year. Stallard said, “The way the NJCAA does things as far as your eligibility is an eligibility clock that starts during a season. If you take a specific number of [credit] hours, then your eligibility runs on that clock. If you take fewer hours, then your clock doesn’t start. I think some of the athletes . . . stayed here to focus on their academics, build up their eligibility, and not lose playing eligibility before that next season starts.”

The AC administration has said the sports activities will be back in play next fall; however, whether AC’s sports are able to actually begin again is still unknown. With East Texas’s COVID-19 numbers continuing to rise, no one knows.

“If it is not safe at that time,” Stallard said, “then we will have to decide again whether to play. But right now, I think we will be on the field and ready to go in August.”

If the pandemic is still around next summer, Stallard said that the coaches “will follow the guidelines and protocols set forth by the NJCAA at that time.”

Gary Stallard, AC sports information director (photo from

AC student’s journey from southeast Asia to east Texas

By Austin Pena, graphic arts student

Two years have passed since my family and I left the Philippines to live in Texas. A lot has happened in those few years, and while the first year felt rough and terrifying, that sense of dread eventually transformed to looking forward to actually making it here in the United States.

We were hit with a significant barrier in culture that I had to wrap my head around during the first few months here. I had lived for 18 years in the small Filipino town of Indang, Cavite, and we had public transportation in the form of tricycles and jeepneys. We had no pressure to learn to drive since these are cheap ways to commute to school and workplaces. Here in Texas, though, I have not seen any kind of public transportation outside of the big cities. It is as if it is a prerequisite to learn how to drive as early as you can.

Another thing I noticed was the emphasis on using credit cards. Unlike in the Philippines where almost everything is paid in cash and just the occasional use of a credit card (if you are a normal middle-class citizen anyway), here in the States, your shopping goes down to the swipe of a card. We had to learn that as quickly as we could, and it was honestly nerve-wracking to see all those numbers and have to check monthly if something’s due. This is just the mundane, everyday stuff that I found odd, and that is not even touching the culture and politics here.

Surprisingly enough, the people in Texas have been very pleasant to be around. Almost everyone seems so alive, carefree and fun to talk to that it made me really doubt the whole “Filipino hospitality” thing we were known for. I am pretty sure the materialistic culture back in our country is the real reason why we are polite to foreigners but not to our fellow Filipinos. But Texans have felt more genuine now that I have spent a lot of time around them, and I honestly could not be happier about that. It is such a breath of fresh air.

And the big one that I have really noticed is how the education system works here. I know American students have it rough with the student loan stuff and side jobs, but coming from someone exposed to Asian work ethic, I can say I had been stressed out for the majority of my time as a student back home.

There was real pressure to excel, and parents would expect nothing less than the highest grades from you and talk about saving money for a better future. After all, we had a tough time financially back then, and every time I got home from our 12-hour school days that started at 6:30 a.m. from junior to senior high school, I had to do homework while selling stuff in the family store—even during the weekends.

We did not have an Internet connection then, so I had to rent computers at net cafés to do projects. And the teachers and higher ups in the educational department of the government did not seem to mind that this was a common occurrence with middle class students. It is the norm, and they say it is to build up resistance to adult life, which raises that stress to higher levels as the pay is so low you have to work overtime for most office jobs. It is nuts back there.

So, imagine my surprise when I finally started college in a foreign land. I was expecting more stress, and instead I was actually learning things that I wanted to learn. No big dumps of homework, no strict scheduling, just be on time for class, take it all in, do a bit of homework, do your side job or hobby afterwards, and then you are free.

That has been my experience so far and even if things do get gradually more stressful because of the COVID pandemic, I do not think I will be facing as much stress as I used to just because the general approach in work and education here is far more forgiving than back home, and they pay you more for any kind of labor you do here in a day than you would ever earn in a week back home. I guess that is the capitalist spirit at work here—fair compensation for your work even if it is not the most exciting job.

My current goal as a student at Angelina College is to try to learn as much as I can and make the most out of the opportunity that I have been lucky to have been given. I want to be versatile in different disciplines of art, which I only really learned how to do properly in the short time I have spent in the graphic arts program, and I want to be able to make a living out of something that I really love doing. It is an opportunity I never would have gotten back home, and I am grateful for that. 

Austin Pena and his family originated from the Philippines, an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. (photo from

Filmmaker reflects on her Angelina College experience

By Esmeralda Ramos, graphic arts student

My family and I moved to the United States 10 years ago for a better life. I grew up in a small town just outside of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, so this was the biggest move of my life and the biggest struggle of it as well. 

Throughout my years of being in the U.S., I have noticed significant differences in the culture and the people.

Here in the U.S., many more opportunities exist for people than in Mexico. One of the biggest differences I have noticed is most people cannot attend college in Mexico because it is too expensive and too far away. But here in the United States, you can get financial help in the way of scholarships or grants to pay for college.

Of course, when you do not speak English, people are going to treat you differently, and it can suck sometimes, but you have to be willing to take it and move on because those people are not going to be around you your whole life.

I am just a semester away from graduating college, and I am hoping to go to a university to continue working on my career. I would like to own a filmmaking and photography company and, hopefully, give back to my parents a little of what they have given me.

Esmeralda Ramos and her family are originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico. (photo from

Question this issue:

“How do you feel about Angelina College’s decision to postpone any sports until fall of 2021?”

Blaze Steptoe

I personally don’t have any feelings at all about the school’s decision to cancel all sporting events until the fall semester of 2021, but with that being said, I do realize that other students, faculty members and community members may feel differently about it than I do. So I do sympathize with those who are just a little bit upset about it. 

Major: General studies

Hometown: Lufkin

Kendall Cole

I personally think it’s a smart idea to postpone events, especially sporting ones, until 2021. It keeps everyone safe instead of having to deal with a lot of precautions with people being there for an event. It’s better to cancel everything now instead of running the risk of people getting infected. I also think it’s smart that they are waiting until fall of 2021 since we don’t know how long the pandemic will last.

Major: Journalism

Hometown: Riverside, CA


Times are changing

By Josh Giles, Pacer editor

To say the least, this year has not been what we were expecting. As a full-time student and the father of child who recently started kindergarten, this pandemic has changed the way my family looks at everything from how we attend classes to what we should expect for Halloween. No matter how we feel about them, many of these changes do not look like they are going away any time in 2020.

In-person gatherings are still on hold all around the United States. Concerts, stand-up comedy shows, award shows and even the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop celebration have changed to virtual formats to adhere to social distancing requirements.   

Locally, cancellations are commonplace this year. This fall semester, schools are canceling events such as pep rallies, sporting events, theater productions, agricultural club events and most lectures.

According the city of Lufkin website, our zoo has cancelled the Zoo Boo that was planned for later this month. Normally a very successful fundraiser for the Ellen Trout Zoo, this year it was deemed unsafe because of the current COVID-19 numbers.

With the downtown Lufkin and Kurth Memorial Library trick-or-treat events rumored to be cancelled as well, Halloween is not looking good for children or their parents in 2020.  

Fall started with schools meeting in-person again (and some are succeeding), but since the pandemic kindergarten through college classes are much different than what we have known in the past. Masks—as frustrating as they can be to some—are common in all K-12 schools now and required on the Angelina College campus for faculty and students alike.

Physical contact like hugs, high-fives and handshakes are still questionable and not recommended for the time being, and Angelina College students are becoming well versed in doing the majority of our coursework via Blackboard online.

Some positive things can be said about the way people have been coping with the “new norm.” Hand washing and sanitizing is at an all-time high, most restaurants will now deliver food and face masks now come in many colors and styles—giving the covering at least a bit of fashion. We are adapting to this seemingly ruthless year and continuing to press forward to the better days ahead. Contact your friends and family members as much as you can, keep a positive attitude and stay safe.

Josh Giles and his family at last year’s downtown Lufkin Halloween trick-or-treat event. This year’s festivities will look much different because of social distancing requirements. (Photo contributed)

Roadrunner basketball sending eight players to next level

By Gary Stallard, AC Athletics

After missing out on an opportunity to compete for a national championship back in March, the Angelina College men’s basketball team nevertheless is finding reasons to celebrate.

Eight good reasons, in fact.

With the pandemic ending the Roadrunners’ dream season early, head coach Nick Wade and assistant coach Zac Kircher nevertheless worked to ensure their players would find a home at the next level. Their efforts resulted in a total of eight Runners from the 2019-2020 squad moving up to play basketball for a university.

Gwarren Douglass of Cleveland, Ohio, has signed with Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas; Tayvion Johnson of Houston has signed with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Emmanuel Adeoye has signed with Texas A&M University-Commerce; Braxton Foreman of Frederick, Maryland, signed with Tiffin University in Ohio; Cameron Hart of Lufkin has signed with Houston Baptist University; Dralyn Brown of Houston has signed with York College in York, Nebraska; Travis Henson of Oxon Hill, Maryland, has signed with California State University, Bakersfield; and Dwight Simon of Alexandria, Louisiana, has signed with Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri.

Seven of those players were on the AC roster in 2019-2020 and contributed to the team’s 24-9 record overall and 16-3 record in Region XIV play. Adeoye redshirted in 2019-2020 and did not see game action.

Wade and Kircher have said all along their main goal is to get incoming players to buy into the importance of both academics and athletics once they reach the collegiate level.

 “We make sure we let the players know you can’t have one without the other,” Wade said. “We really hold them to that. We tell them if they’re not going to take care of business in the classroom, then to be honest, they can’t play for us. To be a champion on and off the court is something we strive to instill, and I couldn’t be any prouder of this batch of guys. They held to their end of the deal, and now they’re able to continue both their academic and athletic careers.”

Wade added that while losing out on a national tournament opportunity and missing a full season because of the pandemic has been painful, seeing his players continue living their dreams is a pretty big morale boost.

“It hurts that we aren’t able to finish the deal with some of them, just because we’re a family here,” Wade said. “It was just as tough on those players as it was on us. That’s what hurts, is bringing guys in hoping to get to spend the full two years with them, but because of the situation we’re in, we didn’t get to do that. But I feel we and they did a good enough job to set them up in a position to take that next big step.

“It’s rewarding, and it’s a blessing.”

Eight Roadrunners from the 2019-2020 squad are moving up to play basketball for a university. (photo contributed)

AC police, fire cadets join retired firefighter on ‘Ernie’s Journey’

By Gary Stallard, AC News Service

Future first responders from the Angelina College Fire and Police academies were up and moving at “dark thirty” on Thursday morning, Sept. 17 to help a guy out for a walk.

The cadets joined retired firefighter John Martin on part of “Ernie’s Journey.” The coast-to-coast walk first began with nonagenarian and World War II veteran Ernest Andrus and made its way through East Texas recently with Martin picking up the flag earlier when Andrus grew ill and was not able to continue for now.

Martin credited the cadets not only with their walking efforts but also their willingness to make time in their busy schedules for such a worthy cause.

“As a retired firefighter myself, it’s awesome to see all this new blood coming into service as first responders,” Martin said. “Not only that, it’s that they have the will and desire to support something like this even with all the training and everything else they have going on right now. It’s amazing, but it doesn’t surprise me. It’s what first responders do.”

Ernest “Ernie” Andrus gained national attention when he set out in 2013 to run from the west coast to the east coast of the United States – and back again. Andrus’ original goal was to raise funds to help restore the ship on which he served as a member of the U.S. Navy during World War II, a ship involved with the D-Day landings at Normandy. Andrus served as a hospital corpsman at the time on the LST 325 Memorial, and he hoped to generate enough interest and funds for the vessel to return to Normandy for the 75th D-Day Anniversary ceremony held in 2019. When the original plan fell through, Andrus continued his journey with a new plan for restoring the old ship.

When illness stopped Andrus’ progress, his travel buddy, Martin, continued in Andrus’ name. Now, the goal for Martin is to make it to the Pacific Ocean on Andrus’ 100th birthday in August 2023. 

AC instructor Sabrina Collins has met Andrus and has participated in Martin’s travels; she helped coordinate this week’s meeting between Martin and the AC cadets.

My sister and I ‘ran’ with Ernie several times on his first coast-to-coast run, and we got to run with him again this time just before he returned to California,” Collins said. “We’ve continued with John since he returned [to East Texas], but our schedules don’t always allow us to join him. John records some of the events and posts them for Ernie to see on social media. “I know it will make Ernie super happy to see the cadets out here.”

Cadets from the Angelina College Fire and Police academies pose with John Martin (yellow vest) prior to the leg of “Ernie’s Journey” on Thursday, Sept. 17. Martin, a retired firefighter, is continuing a coast-to-coast walk World War II veteran Ernest Andrus began in 2013. (Gary Stallard/Angelina College photo)
Cadets from the Angelina College Fire and Police academies stroll north on Kurth Drive in Lufkin during the leg of “Ernie’s Journey” on Thursday, Sept. 17. The cadets joined John Martin, a retired firefighter, who is continuing a coast-to-coast walk World War II veteran Ernest Andrus began in 2013. (Gary Stallard/Angelina College photo)
Cadets from the Angelina College Fire and Police academies join John Martin (yellow vest) during the leg of “Ernie’s Journey” on Thursday, Sept. 17. Martin, a retired firefighter, is continuing a coast-to-coast walk World War II veteran Ernest Andrus began in 2013. (Gary Stallard/Angelina College photo)

Question this issue:

How do you feel about wearing a mask to grocery stores, restaurants and other areas, because of the coronavirus?

James Terry

I personally find it kind of annoying that I have to wear a mask everywhere I go. The fact that I have to put it on and take it off every time I get out of the car can be pretty annoying as well as having to remember to take the mask with you wherever you go. I am personally ready for the coronavirus to be over with and done, so people around the world can go back to talking to each other without a voice muffler on their face and also go back to conversations between people in society that feel normal again. Now I understand why we as a society have to wear masks in this current time during this pandemic. It is because we all obviously do not want to get other people infected with the coronavirus, and I completely understand that especially where the elderly are involved. But I honestly feel that while yes, the mask provides some protection to the individual, the virus is still going to spread and infect people regardless of whether that person does or does not wear a mask. The mask may protect the individuals slightly from the virus, but it will not protect the individual or society overall.

Major: General Studies

Hometown: Nacogdoches

Brent Barber

I feel as if wearing a mask into places of businesses is much needed. Wearing a mask ensures safety in our community and helps prevent the spread of Covid-19. Sometimes it might get tedious wearing a mask, but I have learned to deal with the fact that everyone needs to wear one. 

Major: General Studies

Hometown: Pollock

Hector Castillo

I feel like wearing a face mask is useful to not spread the virus but, at the same time, is not because not all masks will protect you 100 percent, and most of the masks are uncomfortable to wear all day. So, I feel that wearing a face mask should be a choice, but it will be on your own risk.

Major: Graphic Design

Hometown: Nacogdoches

Edith Barrera

I think it’s necessary, and if you don’t have one, it’s good to cover your mouth and nose with a cloth to cover your face when you’re around others. Everyone should wear a cloth mask in public places and around people who do not live in their home, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

Major: Pharmacy Tech

Hometown: Lufkin

McKaya Lucas

 I feel it is important to wear a mask to any crowded area to avoid spreading the virus. I think that people should be more educated on how masks actually work, so maybe they would better understand and actually wear one. It’s not so you don’t get it, it’s so your breath is constrained by the mask and does not spread as far. As for restaurants, I feel it is important to wear it while waiting in line or walking to your table.

Major: Mass Communications/Journalism

Hometown: Lufkin

Kayla Bergeron

Wearing a mask in a store is kind of annoying, but I understand why it’s needed though. For me, it makes it hard to breathe.

Major: Graphic Design

Hometown: Lufkin

Pandemic affecting mental health

By Ra’Nese Canada and Hanna Eddings

The2020 global pandemic has forced everyone to adopt to new changes and safety precautions. Social distancing, quarantine, having to wear a mask, canceled /postponed events and having to be screened at work are just some of the many changes we had to endure.

The pandemic has negatively impacted people in many ways. Mental health is one of the major factors that has been affected. Although the precautions and changes are enforced for our safety, it has caused many people to lose some control over their mental health.

Because of COVID-19, many people have lost their jobs, are struggling financially, and have even lost their homes. Having a lack of control of the situation can be stressful and can easily deteriorate mental health.

Taking care of mental health during these hard times is crucial. It is important to have positive coping mechanisms.

Angelina College’s Director of Student Access and Inclusion Annie Allen said, “On top of people being scared for their health and the health of their loved ones, we have parents who are having to navigate whether their kids should go back to school. If they made the decision to not send them back to school, then they are having to deal with online learning which is difficult. We also have students who have lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet.”

Allen went on to comment about students who might be positively changed because they are sometimes too depressed or anxious to sit in a face-to-face setting.

She said, “If their reason for their anxiety and their struggle with depression is due to social interaction, then the online aspect is good for them. On the other hand, there are a lot of students who thrive with face-to-face classes and the online component is very difficult. It really depends.”

She added how she and her family have adapted to the changes by saying, “It was a lot to deal with because I suddenly had to work from home, and I deal with a lot of student affairs functions. We’re the ones handling student emergency aid requests. We had over 200 requests since we launched in June…On top of that, we have student accommodations, so a lot of students’ needs are having to be evaluated because they are now in online classes.

“As for my family, we made the difficult decision to let the kids go back to school, and they seem to be doing well right now. It has been an adjustment. We could not go on a summer vacation like we normally do, and we are at home 85 percent of the time. When we do go out, we are constantly making sure that it is as safe as possible.”

In order to take care of her own mental health, she said, “I do a lot of things. Watch TV shows that I already know the endings to; I have been reading a lot; I limit how much I am on social media and how much news I am taking in; and I exercise and make sure I eat as healthy as possible.”

Commenting on whether she has worried about her family’s mental health, she said, “Yeah, one of the reasons that we decided to let the kids go back to school was because they were too isolated from their friends. It was important to have a routine for them. I work all year long, so for me it was impossible to have a real routine for them. Going back to school has helped us get back into a routine and that has been really helpful for their mental health.”

            Allen also shared some helpful tips on how to maintain one’s mental health. “I definitely recommend having check-ins with yourself,” she said, “making sure you have a routine that you are comfortable with that gives you purpose throughout the day, and making sure that every day you are doing at least one thing that gives you joy. It can be doing a puzzle, binging on Netflix, calling your best friend—whatever it is that brings you joy.”

Whether one has new anxieties from the COVID-19 lifestyle or even seasonal depression, addressing and coping is always easier if the one suffering is more aware of himself or herself and what he or she is really going through.

Most counselors would tell someone with an addiction that the first step to fixing his or her problem is admitting he or she has a problem. The same could be said for anxiety and depression.

Some people may be unaware of what is triggering these possible thoughts of nervousness, inadequacy or sadness, and they can go into a downward spiral of self blame. That is why it is important to take the time to evaluate oneself and try to find the root of your emotions that negatively affect you.

Depression is a slippery slope, and if one were to internalize these pains and not find a way to treat them, the depression could go emotionally deeper and get more rooted in his or her life.

For those people dealing with social anxieties, maybe now is a time to take online classes to your advantage. Or if you have ever been a student who misses a lot of class because of  emotional episodes or even if you simply do not have a ride, find the silver lining in online classes right now and take all of the classes that you can before this rare opportunity is over. While plenty of variables are in the world today that may cause mental strain, finding the parts that bring joy are a great way to help. As Allen said, if you are struggling to see the joys in your life, then maybe you can intentionally do something every day that sparks joy. Get a head start on your mental health now by simply making a list of what you are going to do to spark joy each day this next week.

AC staff is keeping campus corona-free

Luisa Flores cleans Hudgins Hall thoroughly to help to keep the coronavirus at bay. (photo by Audrey Romo)
Student amenities like water fountains are currently unavailable during the pandemic. (photo by Audrey Romo)

Nursing students learn the code in heath careers

Tonya Laforge, right, AC nursing instructor, conducts a session on responding to a code with second-year nursing students in the lab on the second floor of the Patricia McKenzie Health Careers Building on September 3. (photo by Austin Pena)
Second-year AC nursing students respond to a code in an exercise supervised by Tonya Laforge, left, AC nursing instructor, during a class on September 3. (photo by Austin Pena)
AC nursing student Kenya Sanchez, left, performs chest compressions while Liyan Collier, right, supports respiration with an Ambu bag during a lab class on September 3in the Patricia McKenzie Health Careers Building. (photo by Austin Pena)

First year students keep them breathing in the respiratory health lab

Health career students practice using an endotracheal tube to assist in breathing. (photo by Austin Pena)
Students throughly check the “patient” to practice emergency room scenarios. (photo by Austin Pena)
Hard work, extensive studying and strong dedication makes the health careers students at Angelina College some of the best in Texas. (photo by Austin Pena)

Angelina College students and staff share quarantine recipes

Indian Butter Chicken by Jordan LaCaille (AC staff)


 -6 tablespoons butter, divided

-2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” chunks

-1 yellow onion, diced

-3 garlic cloves, minced

-1 Tbsp garam masala

-1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger

-1 tsp chili powder

-1 tsp ground cumin

-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

-1 1/2 cups tomato sauce(or one 14 oz can would work)

-2 cups cream

-salt & pepper

-lime & cilantro, for garnish

-naan & rice for serving


  1. Using 2 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the pieces of the chicken so each side is browned. They do not need to be fully cooked all the way through. Work in batches, and set aside when you’re done.
  2. Melt another 2 Tbsp of butter in the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until beginning to soften — about three minutes. Add the garlic, garam masala, ginger, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Stir to combine, and cook for about 45 seconds before adding the tomato sauce.
  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let cook for five minutes before adding the cream. Bring the mixture back to a simmer, add the browned chicken, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Keep the heat low here — not a rolling boil.
  4. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve garnished with lime and cilantro, alongside rice and naan.

Peanut butter and banana smoothie by Ra’nese Canada (AC student)


-5 scoops of peanut butter

-one banana

-a cup of milk

-half cup of ice


-blend well 


Peanut butter cookies by Matthew Gresham (AC student)


-1 cup peanut butter

-1 cup sugar

-1 egg


-mix together 

-scoop into tablespoon sized pieces on a baking sheet

-bake at 350° 

-wait 8-11 minutes until fully cooked

Morning smoothie by Michael Gollott (AC student)


-handful of blueberries 

-one banana 

-1 scoop of protein powder 


-blend until well mixed

Angelina College Police Academy graduates 27 cadets

By Gary Stallard, AC News Service

The Angelina College Police Academy Class 104 may have set a record for the length of time it took to graduate.

The cadets began training in AC’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy back in March of this year and were supposed to graduate in July; however, the COVID-19 crisis suspended all activities until the fall. Toss in the recent hurricane and its difficulties, and those students were forced to wait longer than any other class to receive their rewards.

On Thursday, Sept. 3, those future peace officers finally were able to walk the stage.

“Your perseverance throughout this entire process proves you’re determined to answer your calling,” AC Police Chief Doug Conn told the cadets during his address.

Along with the earned certifications, several cadets received other recognition such as Valedictorian, Top Gun, Best Driver and the Survivor Award.

The graduating cadets of Class 104 include Danny Arce, Jeremiah Baker, Brent Baldwin, Heather Barry, Darin Brooks, Billy Davis, Frank Erimias, Malachi Frazier, Keenan Hadnot, Steve Hollingsworth, Elizabeth Johnson, Nicholas LeBlanc, Felipe Lopez, Lynnzee Lyons, Joshua Manchack, Dakota Martinez, Michael McKnight, Jonathan Perez, Nickolous Pope, Colton Reeves, Brian Reeves, Brian Rivas, Perry Shaw, LaQuinta Simmons, Daniel Tinajero, Juan Tovar, Mikayla Westmoreland and Jim Williams.

Academy staff members include Doug Conn, chief of police; Lt. Jason Burrous, training manager; Lt. Randy Holland, training manager; Officer Jack Stephenson, training specialist; and Kim Capps, administrative assistant.

Cadet Oath: Members of the Angelina College Police Academy Class 104 raise their hands to take the Peace Officer’s Oath following a graduation ceremony Thursday, Sept. 3 at AC’s Hudgins Hall Auditorium. A total of 27 future peace officers received their recognition following months of waiting out the current pandemic. (Gary Stallard/AC News Service)
Police academy graduates (from the left) Jim Williams, Elizabeth Johnson, Brent Baldwin, and Billy Davis proudly display their accomplishments. (photo credit- Esmeralda Ramos)  
Lufkin’s finest (from the left) Dale Lowery – ACPD, Officer J. Stephenson- Train Specialist, Doug Conn- Chief of Police, and Lt. Jason Burrous- Training Manager are proud to welcome this year’s academy graduates. (photo credit- Esmeralda Ramos)

Georgia-Pacific contributes $10,000 to Angelina College Technology and Workforce Development programs

Georgia-Pacific’s partnership with Angelina College continues to assist AC in developing both talent and opportunities for future and current employees through the East Texas area.

Last week, GP’s Charitable Foundation continued its generosity by donating another $10,000 to AC’s Technology and Workforce Development Center. Those funds provided equipment and training for maintenance technicians in AC’s Technology and Workforce Development Center.

The training and education received through AC’s programs have helped trainees advance in their current employment situations and in future career choices. Georgia Pacific officials have explained that AC has helped prepare “ready-made employees” who are fully prepared to begin working in various manufacturing positions.

The partnership also helps cultivate home-grown talent, which aids the entire community in what GP officials have called a “highly competitive work environment.”

In 2019, GP’s donation led to the purchase of such key items as electrical cabinets for motor control projects, but the pandemic and subsequent campus shutdowns delayed implementation, according to AC technology instructor David Turbeville. This year, Turbeville said, the funds provided will allow the purchase of material handling equipment “to provide a realistic learning environment that will be tied in with the motor control and programmable logic controller systems.

“Our students are benefiting from the use of standard industrial equipment and from having a system which can be modified and rewired as needed,” Turbeville said.

 AC President Dr. Michael Simon lauded the continued support from area industries.

“I’m thankful for the ongoing support from Georgia Pacific,” Simon said. “The AC team works diligently to meet the workforce development needs of regional employees such as GP. We’re happy to be on a ‘winning team’ with GP.”

Angelina College President Dr. Michael Simon, left, and Krista Brown, executive director of marketing and strategic enrollment, display the ceremonial check representing the recent $10,000 donation from the Georgia Pacific Charitable Foundation. The partnership between AC and GP has provided numerous equipment and training opportunities for area students. (Contributed photo)

AC, during COVID-19, looks a bit different

With the bulk of classes at Angelina College being converted to online this fall, the Lufkin campus is missing the crowds of students meeting each other in the halls, getting help at Roadrunner Central and rushing to get to class on time. Reporters Ra’Nese Canada and Matthew Gresham try to capture what Angelina College looks like during the year of the Coronavirus.

The testing center, usually bustling, sits unused upstairs in the Student Center. (photo credit- Ra’Nese Canada)
There is a noticeable absence of students, usually crowded in the halls, waiting to get assistance at Roadrunner Central. (photo credit- Ra’Nese Canada)
Earlier this year students filled the AC library, but now the building’s activity is very limited. (photo credit- Ra’Nese Canada)
Fighting for a parking spot is currently not an issue on Angelina College campus. (photo credit- Matthew Gresham)
Much less foot traffic is happening in front of the Student Center this fall semester. (photo credit- Matthew Gresham)
The hallways of Hudgins Hall remain dark as the college tries to conserve power in unused buildings. (photo credit- Matthew Gresham)

Rangers call up former Roadrunner pitcher

By Gary Stallard, AC Athletics

John King spent two years as part of Angelina College head baseball coach Jeff Livin’s pitching staff, taking the mound at Roadrunner Field in 2014 and 2015. King cemented his AC legacy during the 2015 regional tournament when he tossed a complete-game shutout over a high-powered San Jacinto team, helping send the Runners to the tournament final.

From there, King signed with the University of Houston where he continued his reputation as a big-game pitcher. As the Cougars’ lone senior in 2017, King was the winning pitcher on both the regular-season title game against Cincinnati and in the American Championship tournament title game against East Carolina.

Drafted in the 10th round by the Texas Rangers, King received the phone call every baseball player dreams of hearing the week of August 30. The Rangers called up King to join the big squad.

Livin said King’s path to the majors held its share of bumps and bruises, but the lefty’s determination played a massive role in achieving his dream.

“John did a great job at the University of Houston,” Livin said. “I talked with his coaches, and they commented on John’s work ethic and his focus in that area.”

 Livin described King as a player who arrived at AC “pretty much under the radar.” Some arm issues during King’s freshman season left the Laredo product with little to show for his efforts. However, those issues helped King realize how much harder he would need to work to achieve success.

“I think that’s when his work ethic really kicked in,” Livin said. “John decided he was going to work his way through this thing. He really got into things such as his diet and training as we went along, and he added quite a bit of velocity while he was here. He came on strong toward the end of his sophomore season and pitched us into the regional tournament. His career just took off from there.”

As for seeing King’s potential as a future major leaguer, Livin said, “I don’t think there’s ever an indication for any player that he’s going to make it to the big leagues. Did I think he’d have a chance to play pro baseball? Yeah, I did. He didn’t have a ton of velocity coming out of high school, but he had a big-time curve ball. The ability to make the ball spin is such a big deal for any pitcher, and he’s had that from the beginning.”

Livin also mentioned how King’s path led him to having the right people see his big-game mentality and overall ability to get hitters out.

“It’s a small world for sure,” Livin laughed. “Bob Laurie, who was my assistant last season, was actually the scout who led to John getting drafted by the Rangers out of the University of Houston. Bob had John on his radar years ago.

“John had some arm troubles his last year at U of H and was scheduled for surgery after the season, and the Rangers still thought enough of him to draft him fairly high. I have no doubt John’s stock would have been even higher had he been completely healthy at the time. The Rangers and Bob took a chance on him, and it looks like it’s paying off for John very well.”

Former Angelina College pitcher John King received the call from the Texas Rangers and has joined the club as it faced the Houston Astros over two games. King led the Roadrunners to the 2015 regional tournament championship game. (Gary Stallard/AC Athletics photo)

AC soccer adds Murillo as assistant coach

By Gary Stallard, AC Athletics

The Angelina College soccer program has added Paul Murillo to serve as an assistant coach with Murillo joining first-year head coach Nataki Stewart to guide both the women’s and men’s teams.

Murillo brings a wealth of both coaching and playing experience, having spent the past three years as the director of coaching for the Sereno Academy Program in Arizona. He also served as the club’s goalkeeper coach for two years. The Sereno Academy is recognized as one of many strong affiliates to Major League Soccer, providing a developmental process for the Utah Royals (Women’s Premier Soccer League) and Real Salt Lake (Major League Soccer).

From 2013-2016, Murillo served as goalkeeper and conditioning coach with FC Dallas Academy’s program. Murillo was a volunteer assistant coach at El Dorado High School from 2010-2012, working with both the girls’ and boys’ programs.

Before entering the coaching ranks, Murillo played for the SoCal Seahorses, a soccer club based in La Mirada, California. He also spent time with Chivas USA Academy and the Whitter Soccer Club.

Under Murillo’s guidance, more than 16 athletes have advanced to the Division I collegiate ranks; nine of his former players currently are playing professionally in the MLS, Liga MX and A-League.

Stewart said the addition of Murillo will provide a boost for every Angelina College player.

“I am very excited to welcome Paul to our coaching staff and the Lufkin community,” Stewart said. “He is of high character and brings extensive championship experience at the club level to AC. In addition, he is passionate about player development, commitment to excellence along with his ability to mentor young people will aid in developing our culture. He is also a top goalkeeper trainer and an elite recruiter.”

Murillo and his fiancé Rhiannon live in Lufkin.

Paul Murillo has joined the Angelina College soccer program, bringing extensive experience as both a player, coach and recruiter to both the Lady Roadrunner and Roadrunner teams. (Gary Stallard/AC Press photo)

Six AC softball players earn Academic All-American honors

By Gary Stallard, AC Athletics

The National Junior College Athletic Association in July released its All-Academic honors list, and once again the Angelina College softball team landed among those mentioned.

The Lady Roadrunner team finished with an overall GPA of 3.28, qualifying for the NJCAA’s Academic Teams of the Year honors.

Twelve AC players finished with a 3.0 GPA or higher while six players earned Academic All-American status.

Named to the First-Team Academic All-American (4.0 GPA) list were Hannah Smart from Melbourne, Australia, and Alexa von Gontard from Montgomery, Texas.

Madison Murdock from Orange earned Second-Team Academic All-American (3.80-3.99 GPA); Kaylee Berdoll from Utley, Texas; Kaitlyn Odom from Woodville; and Hannah Scoggin from Diboll were named Third-Team Academic All-American (3.60-3.79 GPA).

First-year head softball coach Josh Barnes said the Lady Roadrunners adapted to the challenges they faced in the spring, including a mid-season cancellation and the shift to fully online courses for most colleges and universities.

“I’m proud of the way the girls finished, especially considering the way things unfolded with classes moving online,” Barnes said. “That’s not an easy transition for any student, but our players responded very well.

“We shifted gears from the fall and changed our mentality and overall team pride, and it showed up well in the spring.”

The Lady Runners’ performance in the classroom served as a continuation of sorts for Barnes, who while serving as head coach at McCook Community College in Nebraska saw his student athletes average eight Academic All-Americans during his three years there.

Hannah Smart is one of the six in Lady Runners softball to earn Academic All-American honors. (Gary Stallard/AC Press photo)

Nightmarish scenes in cyclone’s aftermath  

By Nylan Holifield

The morning of April 22, 2020, started off as any other morning during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was home from college because all in-person classes had been canceled in the wake of the spreading pandemic. My wife, Kim, and my mother-in-law, Donna, were also home that day. Donna had recently been to a doctor’s appointment, and a few days later she was notified that her doctor had tested positive for the dreaded coronavirus. Since my wife works in an assisted living home and since she lives in close contact with her mother, she was forced to self-quarantine at home for two weeks before she could return to work. So, as fate would have it, we were all at home that Wednesday afternoon. Little did we know that our lives would soon be turned upside down when an EF3 tornado swept through our small East Texas town and left a trail of devastation in its wake unlike anything we had ever seen.

The sky was somewhat overcast that afternoon with frequent bursts of bright sunlight peeking through the clouds, and it was very warm and quite breezy. My wife and I were spending some time out in the backyard entertaining our two small dogs, Morton and Maggie, and our mallard duck, Plucky. During these COVID lockdowns, it was important to get out and find different ways to exercise and stay active since we were not going about our usual busy routines. While tossing around a Frisbee with the animals, we began to notice how windy it was getting. Playing Frisbee in the wind is a pointless endeavor as we soon discovered. After a while, we decided to go back inside to bathe the dogs and take showers before making dinner and watching a movie.

Not long after we were all done with our showers, I received a weather alert on my phone. It informed me of a tornado warning in the Riverside/Huntsville area, which is not very far from where my mom lives, so I sent her a text warning her to be on the lookout for bad weather. At the time, we lived in Onalaska, which is about 30 minutes away from the Riverside/Huntsville area, so I did not think it would affect us too much. It was during these moments that my wife noticed how dark the clouds were getting in our own area, and she decided to go ahead and bring Plucky inside to let him swim in the bathtub. We both walked out into the front yard and stood by the tailgate of our truck while we watched the darkening sky. I contemplated moving the truck underneath the overhang of the shed that sat next to the house but ultimately decided against it. This turned out to be a wise decision.

As we were gazing across the road into the sky above the tree line, two giant dark clouds began to move toward each other, and I commented on how strange it appeared. Just seconds later, Kim noticed some debris swirling about between the clouds in the distance, and she said, “That’s a tornado! We need to get inside right now!” The sound of the wind grew steadily louder, and we hurried to our front door. Right before I went inside, I looked back and saw trees whipping and bending. My mind was racing as we got inside, and I slammed and locked the door. My mother-in-law Donna did not know what was happening, and she went to open the door to have a look outside when my wife said, “Don’t open that door! There’s a tornado!”

They each went into the hallway to take shelter away from any windows, and as a last thought, I grabbed two couch cushions to use as shields against any falling objects or flying debris. During our panic, the electricity shut off, and everything went dark. The sounds of the house were silenced and replaced by the hair-raising screams of ravaging winds. Fear filled my stomach, and I heard the terror in my wife’s voice when she asked for a flashlight. I looked around the kitchen for a few seconds, but I could not find anything, so I ran into the hall, tossed the cushions to the side, and crouched down on the floor as low as I could get. I wrapped my arms around my wife’s waist and locked my hands together, and she held onto her mom on the other side. The wind outside became a thunderous, deafening roar, almost as if a freight train was plowing toward us. My wife was screaming, and I was praying silently as the foundations of the house began to shake. Things began to crash and shatter, and glass and drywall began to rain down on the top of my head. I was holding on so tight that I had forgotten the couch cushions. Projectiles began to slam into the sides of the house, and we could hear the walls creaking and bending, challenged by some unseen monster. In my peripheral vision, I was suddenly aware of daylight pouring into the house where there was none before. My wife’s glasses were sucked off of her face in a vacuum. I remember thinking that I would die before I let this tornado take my angel away from me. I grasped her body with all of my strength, and I could feel a terrible suction. The wind whipped and shrieked, and it was the sound of Death. The roof was being peeled off of our house! At that moment, some gargantuan object crashed down on top of our home and stifled the unwelcome daylight. It felt as if the walls were crumbling down around us, and I thought this was how our lives would surely end.

Kim and her mother were still shouting, and I was silently asking God to spare our lives. A whirlwind of random fragments danced through the house in some apocalyptic ballet as we awaited our judgment in this casket of destruction. A million different thoughts plagued my mind at once, and it finally occurred to me that I still had not used the cushions, so I reached out, grabbed one and attempted to hold it over my wife’s head to protect her while clutching her body with my other arm. I was not aware of Donna’s well-being at this point as she was crouched down on the other side of Kim and I could not see her.

Ever so slightly, the volume of this dreadful symphony began to dissolve. I became aware of insulation and drywall powder caked inside my mouth. As unpleasant as the taste was, my awareness of this detail comforted me because it told me that I was still alive and breathing. All of a sudden, my wife called out for the dogs, and it occurred to me with great terror that through all of the mayhem I had lost track of them. She called their names frantically in a shaky, panicked voice. I looked down and saw that Maggie had been with us through the encounter, but Morton was nowhere to be seen. We both called his name, and when he did not come right away, my imagination ran wild with thoughts of what tragedy had befallen him. We continued to call out his name, and soon the rubble began to shift around in the front of the house as he came around the corner and found his way to us. We rose to our feet and tried to avoid stepping on the shattered glass that surrounded us and covered the tile floor. My wife went into the bathroom to check to see if Plucky was all right. Besides some fallen shampoo bottles and drywall debris, he was untouched. My next goal was getting us outside of these collapsing walls.

The back door sits at the end of the short hallway we cowered in, and I tried the door handle, but it would not budge. Something from the outside was jamming it shut. We looked toward the front of the house, but the wreckage was too great to tread. I glanced into my bedroom on the left to perhaps find an exit, but the rubble and the shattered glass barred the way. I looked to the right into Donna’s bedroom, and it was left almost untouched. This would be our pathway to freedom.

I entered the bedroom and began to climb out of the window. What I found when I crawled out was shocking. It was not the same world that had been there before. It appeared as if a bomb had been detonated in the middle of our yard, and before me was a wasteland of rubble and ruin. Trees were felled, power lines lay like dark serpents twisting through the grass waiting to strike, light poles were splintered and splayed out across the road and giant, jagged slabs of once-livable homes decorated this strange new landscape. A stranger’s mattress rested right outside the eve of the window from which I crawled, and I stepped across it.

I made my way through the remnants, and I instantly impaled the bottom of my shoe on several stabbing nails. I had to use more caution. As my foot throbbed, I slowly tiptoed around the side of the house. What I found in the front yard was like some gigantic destructive ruin from an abandoned war zone. A massive flat slab of iron was draped completely over the top of our roof and suspended outward over the crushed cab of our truck. It was as if some mythical giant was attempting to build a great primitive structure with wood and steel.

I could not venture far because of the fallen power lines, but as I gazed down the hill at the road, I noticed that complete houses were missing. They had been standing there before, and now they were completely gone like the subjects of some evil magician’s sinister disappearing act. I walked around to the backyard and looked over toward the small little storage building with the overhang where we park our car. Another giant iron beam lay across the roof of the building and pinned our car underneath. It was then that I realized what these giant beams were: the bottom of our neighbor’s double-wide mobile home!

Strangers’ belongings were strewn throughout our yard, fence posts were uprooted and it was as if wreckage was all that remained. People were running down the road and screaming, and the sound of distant sirens filled the air. Unfortunately, the roads were impassable. Citizens with shocked faces and empty eyes began to slowly move fallen trees and light poles out of the roadway so that emergency vehicles could eventually get through.

We were still in shock, and we did not know exactly what to do. The only escape route was on foot. This was not going to be easy with so many dangerous obstacles to step over while carrying two dogs and a duck. My phone was ringing off the hook, and people were offering to help, but there was no way for anyone to get into the subdivision. Outsiders did not seem to understand the magnitude of this situation. First responders were entering the subdivision on foot and asking if anyone was hurt. Apparently, a lady had been inside the double-wide mobile home next door when it toppled through the air like a tumbleweed and landed on our house. She miraculously crawled out of the remnants of her destroyed home. I do not know how she survived.

At one point we began to smell gas. A leak was somewhere close by that sent us into another panic. I saw a first responder running down the hill shouting “Gas Leak!” We thought we were going to have to leave on foot right then without any supplies, but fortunately, they were able to get the gas lines shut off quickly.

Eventually, rescue vehicles and more first responders were able to make their way into the subdivision at a snail’s pace. The road became jammed with emergency vehicles and flashing lights lit up the dusk. Kim was able to retrieve some essential items like clothing and flashlights from the accessible parts of our destroyed bedroom. Nightfall was coming swiftly, and we had to get moving. Many fine people were calling and texting, offering to give us rides and shelter, but it would be hours and hours before anyone could actually get to us. Without any other options, we decided to walk out. Our dogs would be placed into a baby stroller, and my wife would carry the duck. We also had bags of supplies to take with us, so this was not going to be an easy trek. An emergency responder informed us that some of the fallen power lines were still live and that we should make sure not to step on any of them. So adding to the rubble, nails, metal and glass obstacles that we had to overcome, deadly live wire were also threats that we had to look out for in the darkening night. This did not include the challenge of the crowded roadway and hundreds of vehicles that we would have to weave between.

I was in charge of the dogs and led the way, so every time we came upon a live wire, I had to lift the stroller up and place it down on the other side. This became almost impossible because I was also carrying bags of supplies and trying to shine a flashlight onto the darkened path. My mother-in-law quickly became exhausted and out of breath before we were very far out of the driveway, and it was clear that she would not be able to make the journey. We stopped in a stranger’s front yard to let Donna rest and catch her breath while we desperately tried to get her some kind of transportation to the nearest convenience store in town. Finally, thanks to the kindness of a Good Samaritan, we were able to get her a ride out of the subdivision in an already packed truck with no room for my wife and me. The plan was to meet her later.

We trudged on. It was like strolling through pure chaos that became virtually unmanageable, and we eventually came to a standstill where low hanging power lines blocked our passage. We stopped on the side of the road in an effort to construct a better plan for getting out of this nightmare. After a few minutes, my wife crossed to the other side of the road, and I was held up as more vehicles inched their way in and out of the ruins. Kim was eventually able to secure a ride for us in the bed of a stranger’s truck. We were filled with gratitude and relief just to be able to exit the dreaded obstacle course and sit down.

Even though we were now secure with our pets in the refuge of this truck, it was a painstakingly slow process getting out of the subdivision. The drivers were forced to dodge hanging power lines and splintered trees, and in some cases, we were plowing through front lawns and ditches as they had become the only drivable paths. The journey out of the devastation took hours, and we were never able to make it to the convenience store where Donna waited for us. We had to settle for being dropped off in front of a hardware store in town, and some good friends were able to pick up my mother-in-law and finally make their way over to us. We were free at last, and some wonderful people opened up their beautiful home to us for a few nights until we were able to get on our feet.

The next day, we were going to try to salvage our surviving belongings from our house, but the subdivision was only open to emergency vehicles as they searched for missing persons and began the long process of clearing the roads. Not until two days later were we able to get into our house to get our things. The kitchen and the bathroom were completely destroyed. The oven and refrigerator had been thrown across the room, and the wall where the cabinets and sink once stood was obliterated. Jagged wooden planks and beams jutted out like teeth from the hungry maw of some towering beast. The outer wall of the bathroom had collapsed inward and a long piece of wood had literally impaled the wall. If any one of us had been standing in the kitchen or the bathroom when the mobile home struck, we would not have made it. We are all extremely fortunate.

Most of our things would have to be moved out of the house in a day, and on top of that, I had somehow managed to severely injure my back sometime during this whole terrifying ordeal, so this was no easy feat. Luckily, we had many great human beings helping us during this hectic and confusing time. Our wonderful landlords had an older model mobile home that they were getting ready to remodel, but they were gracious enough to let us move into it so that we had somewhere to stay, and they spent days helping us transport and situate our things.

The tornado destroyed both of our family vehicles, but we were able to get our car replaced with our full coverage insurance and the generous donations from our church and community. Since we only had liability insurance on the truck, we were not able to get it replaced. It is still sitting in an auto wreck yard right now along with many other tornado damaged vehicles. Most of the damage to the truck was to the crushed cab where the steel beam landed, so hopefully there is a chance that it can be restored. If there is a possibility that it can be saved, I am sure it will not be cheap. I reached out to the Angelina College Foundation Student Emergency Aid Fund, and we even had an interview, but I must have been passed over in the end because I never heard back from their office. Luckily for me, college classes are still online this semester, or I may not be able to attend. If they were held on campus, I would not have transportation to Lufkin every day since my family is down to one car, and my wife uses that one for work.

Even now, in late August as I am writing this, mounds of rubble and ruins of homes remain in the Yaupon Cove subdivision of Onalaska, Texas, and the path of the tornado can still be seen while driving over Lake Livingston. Many places in town are utterly unrecognizable. Some people were not as fortunate as my family, and sadly, the tornado claimed their lives. The town has forever changed, and we are eternally thankful that we made it out alive. I was reminded of the fragility of human existence, and it helps me to understand that I should appreciate every breath and never take my short time on this earth for granted because it can be over in the blink of an eye.   

Ruins of the home Nylan Holifield and his family were in during a devastating tornado that ripped through his east Texas neighborhood. (Photo by Nylan Holifield)
Huge debris lay everywhere disabling vehicles and blocking roads. (Photo by Nylan Holifield)
The powerful tornado easily removed the tops of houses and splintered walls. (Photo by Nylan Holifield)
Holifield’s family, dogs and duck are devastated by the storm’s damage but happy to be safe and together. (photo contributed)

Question this issue:

How have you, or your family, been affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

Demee Martinez

Unfortunately, yes, we have been affected. I have lost two family members. One of my uncles passed away, and about two days later, his daughter passed. My oldest brother tested positive as well, but he’s all right now! It was hard in the beginning because of all the unknowns. My mom owns rentals, so some renters could not make payments because of being laid-off, hours being cut, etc., and it caused an economic impact. It has all worked out now, thankfully.

Major: Journalism/Mass Communication

Hometown: Lufkin

Michael Gollott

My family was affected by the coronavirus due to having restrictions and delays when seeing doctors. Also, we had reduced hours at work so a reduction of revenue. The overall effect of the virus has really just become an inconvenience.

Major: Graphic Arts

Hometown: Biloxi, Mississippi

Kayla Bergeon

It’s been hard but I am not letting it beat me down.

Major: Graphic Design

Hometown: Lufkin

Andrew Kraemer

The coronavirus has affected my family and me in good and negative ways. My sister was unable to finish her high school career in person like she always wanted to. I lost my job and had to file for unemployment, but the benefits have been very rewarding. I was able to do more classes with my free time.

Major: General Studies

Hometown: Lufkin

Ivan Guerrero

Since the pandemic has begun, my activities outside of the city have been decreased immensely. I find myself worrying about the world’s outcome and the health of those around me. At certain points, the panic of the virus has tightened the love between my family and friends, but occasionally, I’m still very concerned for what’s to come for the next decade.

Major: Graphic Design

Hometown: Lufkin

Molly Clifton

The pandemic hasn’t affected my family directly, which I am very fortunate for, but it has affected my job tremendously. I work in retail and am known as an “essential worker.” I has been very difficult working in the public during times like this simply because it’s dangerous putting myself at risk working with the public. Yet I work and go home to my whole family, which puts them at risk , too. Another trial you face while working with the public during a pandemic is the fear your customers experience. Customers come in and panic, often taking several items that aren’t necessarily needed. They are rude to the staff and other customers and act irrationally. So health-wise, I haven’t been affected by COVID-19, but my everyday normal job has turned into a complete nightmare.

Major: Journalism and Mass Communication

Hometown: Zavalla

Caitlyn Hutson

I graduated Angelina College this past spring semester of 2020. I had been there for three years. You can only imagine how badly I wanted to walk across that stage with all my family and friends watching. Because of COVID, there was no graduation ceremony. I was very disappointed and felt like my hard work the past three years had been all for nothing. I wanted to celebrate my accomplishments because I was proud of how far I came. I know AC did this not to harm us but to keep us safe and healthy. Though I wish things could have been different, I know that everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for my life!

Major: Former AC student, Elementary Education at SFA

Hometown: Kennard

Josh Weeks

At the start of the pandemic, my grandpa was dealing with treatments for cancer and with my parents’ ages, I didn’t want to put them at risk since I was still going to work and possibly exposed. I had to pack up my things and stay with a friend and then later ended up just living on my own. It caused me to take a big leap in my life but also kept me from seeing my family.

Major: Former AC student, Graphic Design

Hometown: Jasper

Aubriana Huggins

Due to the coronavirus, I started working with DoorDash. It has also caused my family to stay indoors much more.

Major: Special Education Teaching

Hometown: Lufkin

Ross Jones Jr.

My family has been affected by the coronavirus because work hours have been cut for my mother, which causes her financial problems. It’s also making it hard to find a job that’s hiring.

Major: Nursing

Hometown: Lufkin