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Feb 16
Exhibition promotes science appreciation

Imaging 2.jpgMiranda Felix, of Eustis-Farnam Public Schools, examines the mouth of Callum Ward, of Gothenburg Public Schools. It was all part of the Western Regional Science Fair at North Platte Community College on Thursday.

The world became a little bit safer Thursday morning. That's after students from six area high schools learned how to save a life at North Platte Community College.

It was all part of the Western Regional Science Fair, which the college hosts every spring to encourage high school and middle school students to develop an appreciation for science and consider it as a possible career field.

This year, "Hands-On CPR" was one of the interactive breakout sessions in the Health and Science Center. Those in the workshop learned how to respond to an emergency situation and perform hands-only CPR in rhythm to the popular Bee Gees hit, "Stayin' Alive."

Meanwhile, next door, other students were wrist-deep in the mouths of manikins. Lauri Rogers, director of the dental assisting program at NPCC, and her students demonstrated how to take and read dental X-rays and explained the importance of infection control.

On the second floor of the building, science meet participants learned how and why blood clots form by creating a comparative response with glue.


After cleaning up, the students headed down the hall to learn about the Great American Eclipse, which will take place Aug. 21. They left the building with a kit full of information about the solar event, including the best location to view the eclipse, and links to online resources. They also took home a pair of sun viewing glasses.

"I think the breakout sessions are one of the coolest things about this meet," said HaLea Messersmith, a science teacher at Cozad Community Schools. "These students want to get their hands dirty. They learn by doing, and the college gives them a way to do that."

Across campus, in the McDonald-Belton Gymnasium, rows of tables were lined up with science projects, some of which, students had spent months working on.

Through the process, the learned how to conduct and analyze research, prepare a presentation and speak in public when explaining their findings to a judge.

The projects ranged from thinking under pressure, fighting bacteria and fingerprinting to understanding illusions, determining whether white bread or wheat bread molds faster and identifying sources of glucose. There were 84 projects altogether.


Corby Condon, a student at St. Patrick Junior/Senior High School, presents his project at a science meet at North Platte Community College on Thursday. The title of his project was, "The Affects of Wind Speeds On Cooling Rate."

Winners received medals and ribbons and advanced to the 2017 Nebraska Junior Academy of Sciences State Science Fair at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln on April 20.

Additionally, eighth grade winners were invited to attend a State Science Meet at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha in June.

The winners in the middle school division were:

  • First – Kayla Schilke, Chase County Schools
  • Second – Rian Good, Gothenburg Public Schools
  • Third – Bronson Long, Gothenburg Public Schools
  • Fourth - Sean Worthman, Cozad Community Schools
  • Fifth – Elissa Foley, Gothenburg Public Schools
  • Sixth – Alyssa Kolbo, Cozad Community Schools

The winners in the high school division were:

  • First – Sam Aden, Gothenburg Public Schools
  • Second – Emma Ferguson, Chase County Schools
  • Third – Keifer Anderson, Gothenburg Public Schools
  • Fourth – Samantha Jack, Eustis-Farnam Public Schools

A new award was also given out this year. Lincoln Industries donated $125 in cash to an overall winner from Lincoln County. That winner was Landon Klasna of St. Patrick Junior/Senior High School in North Platte.

The science meet was sponsored by the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, UNMC's Area Health Education Center and the Nebraska Coalition For Lifesaving Cures.

Feb 16
Registration open for second round of spring classes


Registrations are being accepted for the second round of eight-week spring classes at Mid-Plains Community College. Some classes begin as early as March 12.   

Many can be taken either online or via distance learning. Students can sign up for any of them the first week they are offered. A complete list of courses can be found online at

Some of the classes available include: 

BIOS 1600: Current Issues in Biology – The course reflects issues discussed in the current world of science. Topics can cover cancer, biological terrorism, HIV/AIDS, emerging infectious diseases, stem cells, Alzheimer's and the human genome. Studies reflect the scientific and historical basis, current status and effect on society. 

BSAD 1010: Personal and Professional Development – The class emphasizes the relationship between image/social awareness and job success. It covers on-the-job situations of problem-solving, time management, goal setting, business etiquette, listening skills, work groups and the relationship between productivity and job attitude. A major emphasis is placed on developing productive work ethics. 

BSAD 1090: The Job Application Process – The instruction is designed to provide all students with the tools and skills to develop an effective job search campaign. Topics include, but are not limited to, methods of finding a job, resume preparation, the development of customized application letters, interview techniques and preparation of follow-up communications. Students utilize word processing skills. 

CSCE 1604: Introduction to Microsoft Word – The course is an introduction to basic features of the Microsoft Word software program. Special attention is given to the utilization of graphics, templates, report styles, tables and WordArt. There is a $5 fee. 

CSCE 1644: MS Office Excel – The course is designed to provide the fundamental skills and concepts of using Excel spreadsheet software in a hands-on environment. Students benefit from a step-by-step approach. The class fee is $5. 

EMTL 1110: CPR Rescuer - The course is intended to provide the student with training, as an individual or as a team member, to administer adult, child and infant CPR. Use of an AED, pocket mask and bag valve mask is also included. The class fulfills the CPR requirement for most health-related trainings. The $15 fee covers the cost of a book and a two-year certification card. 

ENGL 0990: College Prep Writing - College Prep Writing is a review of grammar and sentence writing skills including use of words, parts of speech, parts of a sentence, agreement of subject and verb, punctuation of sentences, vocabulary development and paragraph development. The course strengthens English proficiency before attempting college composition. 

ENGL 1020: English Composition II – The class focuses on extended source-based writings and projects, including a required research paper. An emphasis is put on organizational strategies for research, the integration of multiple resources and the ethical use of information to produce informative and/or argumentative texts. 

MATH 0900: Elementary Algebra – The course reviews real number operations, algebraic expressions, exponents, the solving of linear equations, graphing, operations with polynomials, solving quadratics and solving word problems. 

MATH 1150: College Algebra – This course is the study of relations, functions and their graphs, equations and inequalities, polynomial and rational functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, systems of equations and inequalities. 

MUSC 1010: Music Appreciation – The class is an introduction and overview of the history of Western art music, from the Middle Ages to modern times. It includes the elements of music, historical style periods and major composers and selected works.

NURA 1100: Nursing Assistant – This course trains a non-licensed individual to provide safe, effective and caring services to patients, resident and clients in a variety of health care settings. Upon successful completion, students receive a certificate from MPCC and qualify for placement on the State of Nebraska Nurse Aide Registry. The fee is $5. 

PHIL 1150: Intro to Logic and Critical Thinking - Students encounter an analytical method of language analysis, logic, fallacies, construction of valid arguments, the notion of evidence, relevant questioning and problem-solving techniques. 

PHED 1240: Golf – The one-credit hour, co-educational course is designed to introduce students to the sport of golf. Emphasis is placed on fundamental etiquette, skill techniques, rules and history of the leisure sport of golf. Students participate in the activity individually and within a group. The fee is $10. 

PHED 1260: Beginning Yoga – The co-educational course is designed to promote balance and strength for the body and mind. The class combines breathing, stretching and positive affirmations to relax the body and mind while creating strength and tone for total body wellness.

UPHR 1670: Couch Reconstruction and Upholstering – This class teaches frame and spring repair, pad replacement and how to recover large projects. The fee is $35. 

It's strongly recommended that those who want to register for a class make an advising appointment first by calling (308) 535-3701 in North Platte or (308) 345-8102 in McCook. 

MPCC provides numerous scholarships, grants and loans to qualified students. More information about financial assistance is available by calling (308) 535-3705 in North Platte or (308) 345-8112 in McCook. 

Feb 15
Durbin funds awarded to 32 NPCC students

A total of 32 North Platte Community College students will receive scholarships through the "Oliver, Mildred, Marguerite, Mary and Albert Durbin Scholarship Fund" this semester. 

The fund was established in November of 2009 with a $1 million donation from the estate of Oliver Durbin. It is offered through the NPCC Foundation. 

"The NPCC Foundation works hard to gather these types of funds for scholarships, so we're always excited to see the efforts pay off," said Grant Schramm, chairman of the NPCC Foundation scholarship committee. "We find it very rewarding that so many students will be using the Durbin funds to further their education and better themselves." 

Oliver, who died Dec. 25, 2008 at the age of 102, was a strong proponent of continuing education and NPCC. According to those who knew him, Oliver was quite frugal by nature, but exceptionally generous at heart. 

His scholarship was designed to help students going through financial hardships due to family circumstances attend college.  

More than $210,000 in Durbin funds have been awarded since 2009. This spring, $25,000 was up for grabs to be used for tuition, fees, books or tools.   

Applicants had to be full-time NPCC students, either freshmen or sophomores, who were not Pell Grant eligible. They also had to maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.5. 

The following students received scholarships from the Durbin fund: 

  • Ainsworth - Whittney Pirnie
  • Arapahoe- Collin Frink
  • Broken Bow – Baily Kirkpatrick
  • Cozad – Michael Cannon, Jenna Hall, Tristin Lindstedt
  • Gothenburg – Elizabeth Ostendorf
  • Hershey – Ashleigh Cardwell
  • Imperial – Eric Chavira
  • Indianola – Justine Jones
  • Lexington – Gabriela Gonzalez-Huiseng, Magali Ruiz-Martinez
  • McCook – Kayla Bauer
  • North Platte – Rebecca Chessmore, Adam Dobesh, Kaleen Dunbar, Remingten Elsen, Andrew Feeney, Treu Gibson, Cheralee Hasbrouck, Taime Hill, Zachariah Huerta, Ashleigh Matson, Treyann Miller, Jamie Norton, Christine Pfortmiller, Ariel Quiroga
  • Ogallala - Michelle Walker
  • Sutherland – Scott Taylor
  • Valentine – Jackilyn Potter
  • Wallace – Destiny Garcia
  • Mason City, Iowa – Stephanie Jensen

The Durbin funds are part of a total of $96,000 worth of scholarship money the NPCC Foundation awarded this year. A variety of other academic and technical scholarships are also available. 

Those interested in applying for a scholarship can do so online at

Feb 15
Speaker will offer insight into working with millennials

Cara Silletto 2016.JPG

Cara Silletto

Help is available for Boomers and GenXers confused about how to work with millennials. Thought leader Cara Silletto will explain how to bridge the generational gap during presentations in Broken Bow and North Platte next week. 

Silletto is the president of Crescendo Strategies, a firm committed to reducing unnecessary employee turnover and making leaders more effective in their roles. 

She has a Master of Business Administration degree and more than 14 years of experience learning the unwritten expectations of older managers and business owners. Silletto is also the co-author of "What's Next in HR." 

The best part? She is a millennial herself – born in 1981. Millennials, those younger than 36, are the largest generational group in the workforce. They will outnumber Boomers and GenXers by 2020. 

Silletto's talks, "They Drive Me Crazy! Managing and Retaining Millennials," help audiences understand how business, along with the expectation of employees, has changed. An increasing number of job opportunities and LinkedIn poachers who try to steal talent away are just a couple of challenges employers are up against. 

Silletto will discuss the power shift from employers to employees that has occurred since the recession and how successful companies are putting forth intentional effort and resources to create an organizational culture where people want to work. 

1 Cara Silletto.jpg

Silletto has been named a "game changer" by "Workforce Magazine," and named her in its list of Top 10 Company Culture Experts to Watch. 

Her presentations in North Platte and Broken Bow are possible thanks to MPCC non-instructional enhancement funds, the Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation, the Custer County Community Foundation and Becton, Dickinson and Company. 

Silletto will speak on Feb. 22 from 8:30-10:30 a.m. in the Broken Bow City Auditorium and from 12:30-2:30 p.m. in the McDonald-Belton Theater on the North Platte Community College South Campus. 

Tickets are $25 each. They can be purchased ahead of time by calling (308) 872-5259 in Broken Bow or (308) 535-3678 in North Platte. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Feb 15
Truck driver finds a new start through Diesel Tech


Jeff Riggins stands next to a semi he's working on at North Platte Community College. Riggins is a non-traditional student studying diesel technology.

College right after high school isn't for everyone. Just ask Jeff Riggins, a non-traditional student studying diesel technology at North Platte Community College. 

"I didn't like high school and didn't want any part of college," said Riggins, 39. "I wanted to get right into the workforce. For me, personally, I think it was a good idea to wait. I had to grow up a bit." 

Diesel technology wasn't on the radar for the Denver native either. Instead, he became a truck driver, and in 2011, found employment with an oil service company in Pennsylvania.

"I worked closely with and was influenced by the mechanics on our fleet," said Riggins. "I thought if the time ever came when I couldn't drive a truck – diesel mechanics might be something I would be interested in." 

Little did he know that time was close at hand. In June of 2015, Riggins was diagnosed with diabetes, bringing his career to a halt. 

By that time, Riggins was driving a truck for JB Hunt Transport Services out of Gothenburg, delivering feed to area hog farms. 

"I didn't want to leave the transportation industry, but I had a four-year-old son to provide for," said Riggins. "I decided if I couldn't drive trucks, I would learn how to fix them." 

A search on the Internet led him to NPCC. Not only did the college offer the Diesel Technology program, it also was five minutes away from his home. He spent two hours touring the campus and was impressed by what he found. 

"The shops were well-equipped with new equipment, and the faculty, because they worked in the industry, were knowledgeable and experienced," Riggins said. "I also liked that the program wasn't specified training, and it wasn't just working on some broken down farm tractor. It was general training on vehicles from a variety of manufacturers – the type of work I wanted to do in a shop." 

Riggins enrolled in the summer of 2015 and hasn't regretted a minute. He loves the hands-on aspect of the classes. 

"It's also been a learning experience from the standpoint that I had never been in a college environment before and had never worked with kids straight out of high school," said Riggins. "We help each other. I've kind of fallen into a mentoring role for the younger students, and if I don't know something, I will ask them, and they usually have the answer." 

Riggins takes classes online in addition to being in the classroom twice a week. He works at Twin River Diesel and Auto every day after school, and is now a father to two sons, ages 6 and 4 months. 

"I'm not going to lie - finding time for everything has been a challenge," said Riggins. "But, I'm glad I finally went to college. Life is too short to be scared of something like that, and there is so much opportunity to grow." 

Riggins will graduate in May with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Diesel Technology. More information about the program is available at

Feb 14
Sunday College offers fast, easy way to take gen eds

Sunday College.jpg

General education requirements can be fulfilled in just eight weeks at Mid-Plains Community College. 

MPCC will offer Elements of Statistics and Intro to Logic and Critical Thinking as part of the Sunday College program during the second half of the spring term, which begins March 12. 

Sunday College allows students to skip weekday time in the classroom by sitting in on classes on Sunday afternoons and evenings instead. The rest of the assignments and coursework can be done online, via e-mails with instructors. 

The on-campus component is offered through classrooms in McCook and North Platte and via distance learning at MPCC campuses in Broken Bow, Imperial, Ogallala and Valentine. 

All Sunday College classes are designated as "academic transfer," which means they should be accepted for academic credit at any regional college or university. 

Those interested in learning more about Sunday College, or in registering for the program, can visit the college's website at:

They can also contact Heather Pucket, area student advisor, at 535-3710 or for more information.

Feb 13
Valentine Campus receives $5,000 grant

Valentine check presentation.jpg

Representatives from Farm Credit Services of America, David Leggott, Mitchell Korf and Dave Lien, presented the Mid-Plains Community College Valentine Campus with a $5,000 grant Monday morning. Pictured left to right are: Leggott, Gail Knott, MPCC area director of outreach, Korf, Lien, Jennifer Nollette, Valentine campus coordinator, and Dave Dent, Valentine City Councilman.  

The Mid-Plains Community College Valentine Campus is one step closer to funding completion thanks to a $5,000 grant from Farm Credit Services of America. The grant was provided through the FCSAmerica Working Here Fund designed to impact agriculture education. 

"At FCSAmerica, we appreciate the opportunity to support future generations of ag producers," said Logan Thomeczek, a vice president of retail operations in FCSAmerica's North Platte office. 

He was among the representatives from FCSAmerica who presented a check to college officials on Monday at the site of the new campus, 715 E. Highway 20 - next to The Niobrara Lodge. 

MPCC has had a campus presence in Valentine since June of 2002. The college offers online and distance learning classes in a small building at 113 N. Hall Street in addition to providing numerous dual credit courses through local high schools. 

However, increased demand for more localized career and technical training, including that in agribusiness, farm and land management and mechanized agriculture, led to the construction of a larger facility. 

In July, crews broke ground on a new, approximately 7,500 square foot building expected to be complete in early spring. 

It will provide students in the Cherry County region with localized, on-campus academic transfer related classes as well as hands-on training in welding, farm equipment calibration and engine repair and maintenance in a technical shop. 

"Five additional classrooms will enable the college to offer academic courses and programs in multiple areas, including agricultural sciences," said Bonnie Kruse, MPCC area director of Institutional Advancement.  

It is expected that the college will take possession of the Valentine Campus sometime in March, and that there will be a formal ribbon cutting this summer. More details will be released as they become available.  


Representatives from Farm Credit Services of America, David Leggott, Mitchell Korf and Dave Lien, presented the Mid-Plains Community College Valentine Campus with a $5,000 grant Monday morning. Pictured left to right are: Leggott, Gail Knott, MPCC area director of outreach, Korf, Lien, Jennifer Nollette, Valentine campus coordinator, and Dave Dent, Valentine City Councilman. 

Feb 13
Students learn life skills through Automotive Technology

Automotive Tech 1.jpg

Automotive Technology students Kyle Van Pelt, of McCook, Bryce Thoman, of Taylor, and Dylan Brown, Anthony Hill and Anthony Noffsinger, all of North Platte, work on an engine at North Platte Community College. 

Graduates of the Automotive Technology program at North Platte Community College don't just walk away with the technical skills they need to be successful in the workplace, they're also armed with realistic expectations. 

"I feel like part of my job is to teach them work ethic," said Bryan Herrick, automotive technology instructor. "We have a waiting list of employers, so if students leave here qualified, there's a job for them somewhere. But, they have to want to work for it. The industry expects it." 


Students can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree and five certificates: Basic Engine and Electrical Repair, Transmission and Driveline, Suspension and Alignment and Tune-up and Automotive Technology, through the two-year program. 

"Graduates can be anything from a technician or engine machinist to a parts pro or service writer," said Herrick. "There's also an extremely high demand for good drivability technicians. Anymore, being a mechanic isn't necessarily having to bust your knuckles and get greasy every day."

By staying for a third year, students can receive degrees in both Automotive Technology and Auto Body Technology, or in Automotive Technology and Diesel Technology. A Customization and Restoration certificate is available with the Auto/Auto Body combo. 

"We're unique in that we use the aftermarket world to keep things fun," said Herrick. "To start with, we mix old cars with new technology and show students how original systems compare to those of today. In 1955, being a mechanic didn't require much reading, math or general education-type skills, but in 2017, you better have some knowledge, or you're not going to succeed." 


NPCC puts an emphasis on electronics and computerization to meet the changing demands of the automotive industry. However, students are still expected to know how systems work mechanically. That's part of why Herrick still teaches rebuild in his engine classes. 

"We go through all the engine parts and pieces and how they work together," said Herrick. "I just feel that's valuable even though most of what's done in a shop is replacement. The rebuild helps students understand how an engine operates and how critical tolerances are so they can better diagnose problems and perform certain tasks." 

About 30 percent of the instruction is in the classroom, and the rest is hands-on. Herrick also takes his students on field trips to see cars from different eras, to get a feel for some of the job opportunities available and to watch machinist shops in action. 

Last semester, Herrick's students took a field trip to look at a private collection of cars that date back to steam cars, pre-1900, and at examples of the first V8 engines. The students observed the effort it takes to start the old cars and took a ride in one. 

Earlier this month, they spent an afternoon at Andersen and Sons NAPA in North Platte to learn the ins and outs of engine machining processes. 

Automotive Tech 2.jpg

Automotive Technology students Dusty Gautier, of Cozad; Joseph Pafford and Jason West, both of North Platte;  Aaron Kreuscher, of Gothenburg and Morgan Hoaglund, of North Platte, work on an engine at North Platte Community College.

What students tend to look forward to the most, however, is working on their own vehicles. Priority is given to personal projects – as long as they tie into whatever is currently being taught. 

"Eighty percent of the work we do is live work, not trainers," said Herrick. "My favorite part of the school year is in April when the students get to fire up a project car they've been working on - maybe something that hasn't run in years or one that they built from the ground up. I love seeing the looks on their faces and watching their hands shake when they come back in from their first test drive with something that's got some beans." 

What the personal project aspect means for students pursuing the Auto/Auto Body combo degree is that they can do a complete frame-off restoration in three years. 

"Maybe a student brought a car in as a roller," said Herrick. "He or she is going to drive it out of here. So, on top of learning a trade to get their lives started, the students are getting to build something for themselves that they can be proud of. I don't know of a better way to teach them to take pride in what they do." 

Feb 10
Chavira named Business Student of the Month



An Imperial man has been selected as the North Platte Community College Business Student of the Month for January. 

Kevin Chavira graduated from Chase County High School in 2015. He is currently studying agribusiness at NPCC and is on track to graduate in May. 

"Kevin is very deserving of this award," said Angie Chittick, business instructor. "His attitude is infectious and his smile lights up the room. Kevin's strong work ethic and character carry both in and out of the classroom. He is courteous and goes above and beyond to assist fellow students. His dedication, ability and commitment will be a benefit to him as he strives to reach all of his personal and career goals." 

During his time at the college, Chavira has been an active member of the rodeo team, on which he competes as a team roper. 

"I initially selected NPCC to be a part of the rodeo team and to get a good start on my education close to home," said Chavira. "Since I've been at the school, I have been blessed with great teachers who have gotten to know me on a personal level and who want to see me succeed. NPCC has top notch faculty that want all their students to be successful, and I am very thankful for that." 

After he graduates, Chavira plans to transfer to Fort Hayes State University in Hays, Kan. and pursue a bachelor's degree in business. 

Chavira's parents are Reyes and Gaby Chavira, of Imperial. 

Feb 10
Building Construction students raffle class projects


Ian Smith stains a bench on Thursday at North Platte Community College. It's one of four wooden items building construction students such as Smith will be raffling this month. 

The public has a chance to own some of the creativity coming out of North Platte Community College this month.  

Students in the first-year building construction class made and are raffling four items to raise money for tools that they can take with them into the workforce. 

Up for grabs are an oak blanket chest, a rustic alder blanket chest, a Husker football decoration and a patio rocking chair. 

The items will be on display at the 2017 Home and Outdoor Expo Feb. 17-19 at the D and N Event Center in North Platte. They can also be viewed at the Oregon Trail Home Show in Ogallala Feb. 25-26 at the Keith County Fairgrounds. 

Tickets are $2 each or three for $5. They can be purchased at either of the home shows, or by contacting Building Construction Instructor Roger Fattig at (308) 535-3646, or The deadline to buy a ticket is March 1. 

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Heather Johnson
Area Communications Specialist

Heather produces and distributes press releases for the college. She began work at MPCC in 2014. Prior to that, she spent five years as the news director/web manager for Eagle Radio in North Platte. From 2009-2014 she worked as a reporter/photographer for The North Platte Telegraph. Heather has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Chadron State College.

Brent L. Cobb
McCook Community College News Bureau Coordinator​