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ETBU students shine light on convention center

By Bridget Ortigo
Jan. 11, 2017 at 4 a.m.

A class of ETBU students spent the week fixing and cleaning lighting at the Marshall Convention Center as part of a joint restoration project with the city.

Some East Texas Baptist University students let their light shine at Marshall Convention Center last week by helping to restore the venue's lighting system back to full working order.

Sixteen ETBU students participated in the community service project during a mini-semester session for fine arts course credit.

The class spent the week cleaning and repairing the convention center's lights and lighting system, which hadn't seen maintenance in a few years due to a lack of resources, said John Dement, associate professor of design in theater.

"This was a twofold project for us and it does coincide with ETBU's mission to get involved in the Marshall community," Dement said Friday. "The first part of the project was to coordinate with the city and Marshall Convention Center to create a course as a service learning project to improve the lighting system at this venue. The second part was to prepare the space for our 'Fiddler on the Roof' production coming up next month."

Dement said the university does not have a venue like the convention center on its campus so students have often used the city's venue for theater productions.

"We have done several shows over here throughout the years and as a lighting designer, I could tell the lighting system needed some work. So, Tom Webster, dean of the School of Communications and Performing Arts, spearheaded this project along with the convention center's Debbie Swendson and Randy Pritchard."

Throughout the week, the students worked on, cleaned and repaired more than 100 lights at the center, he said.

"We pulled down the lighting, cleaned it, did maintenance checks on it and made any repairs that were needed," he said. "Randy Pritchard provided any materials we needed to get the job done."

The students first spent a day in the classroom with Dement learning about the lighting system before going in the venue to work on the lights themselves.

"Some students had never been in a theater before," he said. "Anytime we can get the students out of the classroom, into the community and learning in a hands on way, it's a great opportunity."

Dement said the university, which is currently teaming up with the city and county on other restoration projects across Marshall, is looking forward to creating more courses of this nature in the future.

"We finished the work a day ahead of time," he said.

The university's musical theater production of "Fiddler on the Roof" is set to begin on Feb. 23 with shows at 7:30 p.m. each day through Feb. 26. A matinee show is set for 2:30 p.m. Feb. 26 and tickets can be purchased at the ETBU Box Office at (903) 923-2292 or online at http://bit.ly/2iNH8U7.

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