LHS auditorium honors longtime educator

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Lufkin High School will dedicate a new auditorium Thursday night, named after a longtime drama and broadcast journalism teacher.

According to LISD Assistant Superintendent Lynn Torres, the late Tom Jack Lucas was responsible for starting the broadcast journalism program at LHS.

"He did fall and spring plays every year, and even taught some of our school board members," Torres said. "He's just an icon around here."

Torres said Lucas taught at LHS for more than 20 years and retired as a teacher at the old LHS campus, which is now the Lufkin Middle School.

The small Nacogdoches County town of Sacul is actually named after Lucas' family, which is "Lucas" spelled backwards.

"I was a student of Tom Jack Lucas' when I was in high school here at Lufkin High School and he was a fabulous director," said Cay Billingsley, the current LHS theater teacher. "He put his heart and soul into every show he did."

The World War II veteran began teaching at the junior high back in 1947. Seven years later, he started teaching speech and drama at the senior high school. Later he would establish a TV production program that Frank Latimer now directs.

"Mr. Lucas was the quintessential gentleman, and director," Latimer said. "He traveled the world, he would go to New York and see productions and share those visions with the students here in Lufkin."

As this generation of students takes their new stage, Billingsley wants them to know, her teacher would be proud.

"I would like them to remember that they are a part of an on-going legacy and that their work is worthy of what he stood for," Billingsley said.

"I'm going to be on that stage and there's this man who it's dedicated to and he had so much to do with everything and I would hope that when I'm on stage and when I'm performing that if he was here, it would make him proud," said Paige Parker, an LHS theater student.

"He seems like he would be extremely proud of us and probably he wouldn't be in the audience, he'd be on the sides of the wings, cheering us on and telling us what we could improve on," said Megan Yeager, another LHS theater student.

They've never met Lucas, but as they practice in his namesake, they know his influence went far beyond this state-of-the-art facility.

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