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Mar 23
NPCC introduces girls to career opportunities


Avery Hayward, of South Platte Public Schools, gets a nervous system scan from Melissa Veal on Thursday at North Platte Community College. The activity was part of an Expanding Your Horizons conference. 

Taser demonstrations, nervous system scans, robotics – students at the Expanding Your Horizons conference participated in a variety of exercises that encouraged them to think outside the box in terms of career opportunities. 

A total of 315 middle school girls from 16 area high schools attended the conference Thursday at North Platte Community College. Interest in the event grows every year. 

"We've been doing this conference for over two decades," said Bridget Lange, test center coordinator for the college. "The purpose of it is to introduce young girls to STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] related careers, which are not traditional fields for women. Expanding Your Horizons is actually a nationwide effort, but this is the only conference we know of in Nebraska." 



The day began with some words of inspiration by Kelly Rippen, the college's area dean of enrollment management. Rippen encouraged the girls to think of five positive words to describe themselves and to put those words into their phones for easy reference. 

She told them happiness is something they can decide ahead of time and recommended they choose careers to fit their personalities.

"I want you to be unique," said Rippen. "One of the greatest things you can wear is confidence, and that is a choice you make." 

The girls then split into groups and attended breakout sessions to learn about the various professions. Firefighter/paramedic, physical therapist, land surveyor, meteorologist, veterinarian, X-ray technician, protection engineer, personal trainer, horticulturist, railroad switchman, mental health counselor and even a mad scientist were some of the options. 

firefighting suit.jpg

Among other things, the students made a mock-up of a nuclear power plant then sent a robot inside to control a fictitious emergency. They built flashlights, tried on firefighting gear, practiced using a digital camera and learned about proper nutrition – not just for themselves, but also for their pets. 

"I like that it's all girls here today," said Paige VanSkiver, an eighth grader from Sutherland. "Even the instructors are women. There are fewer distractions that way. We can just have a fun day being ourselves and bonding." 

Valerie Kershner, a life skills teacher at Sutherland Public Schools, said she took 22 students to the conference. 

"We come every year," said Kershner. "I think it's a great opportunity to expose them to different career pathways, to encourage them to think about their future and to help them build confidence outside the classroom." 

Schools from all over the western half of Nebraska attended the conference. Those from Burwell, Big Springs, Mullen and Wallace were among those who traveled the farthest. 

Mar 22
MPCC announces Registration Days


Heather Pucket, MPCC area advising coordinator, visits with a student about a class schedule. Advising is just one of the services prospective students will be able to learn about during a series of upcoming Registration Days at the college.

Mid-Plains Community College will offer and in-depth look at its programs and services during a series of Registration Days starting in April.

Every MPCC campus will host a Registration Day, giving prospective students from throughout the college's 18-county service area an opportunity to sign up for classes and receive the information needed to begin coursework in the fall.

The events are more than just registering for classes, however. They also serve as foundations - designed to keep prospective students on track and ensure they have a successful and rewarding experience at MPCC through graduation.

"Our mission with these events is to connect with students early in the process and make a plan for their success," said Kelly Rippen, area dean of enrollment management. "We want to partner with them to help make the best decisions on how to pay for college and what major to choose, as well as what schedule fits their needs. It is so important for them to see how many services are available and how many people are in their corner."

Students will be able to take placement tests, if needed, and campus tours will be available. Representatives will be on hand to answer any questions about:

  • Class scheduling
  • Financial aid
  • Setting up a payment plan
  • Bookstores
  • Career services
  • Advising
  • Library services
  • Student Success/tutors
  • Disability services
  • Student life
  • Student organizations
  • Campus housing 

Those interested in attending a Registration Day are asked to RSVP at least a week ahead of time at The first 75 to sign up will receive a free hoodie.

Although not mandatory, parents are also encouraged to be part of Registration Days. There will be a session designed specifically for them.

The Registration Days will be:

  • McCook Community College – 10 a.m. on April 13, May 25, June 15, July 13 and Aug. 3
  • North Platte Community College – 10 a.m. on April 11, May 23, June 13, July 11 and Aug. 1
  • Broken Bow Campus – 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. on March 30
  • Imperial Campus – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – on April 10
  • Ogallala Campus – 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. on April 4
  • Valentine Campus – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 20

More information is available by calling MCC at (800) 658-4348, ext. 8101, or NPCC at (800) 658-4308, ext. 3609.

Mar 17
Sandhills Area Foundation contributes to Valentine Campus

check presentation Sandhills Area Foundation.jpg

Representatives from the Sandhills Area Foundation present a check for $5,000 to Mid-Plains Community College officials Friday to assist with completion of the new Valentine Campus. 

That brings the total amount the foundation has given to the project to $7,500, according to Bonnie Kruse, MPCC area director of Institutional Advancement. 

Pictured left to right are: Mark Johnson, Kruse, Valentine Campus Coordinator Jennifer Nollette, Duane Kime, Steve Brown and Monty Neiffer. The men are all Sandhills Area Foundation members.

Mar 17
Communication strategist to speak at NPCC


A new class offered through North Platte Community College will teach people how to improve their communication skills while boosting self-confidence and overall happiness. 

The Business and Community Education department will offer "Unfrozen: Emotional Mastery" from 6-8:30 p.m. March 23. 

The class will be taught by Andrea Wenburg, author, speaker and communication strategist. She will teach out of her book, "Unfrozen: Stop Holding Back and Release the Real You," which will be provided to every student. 

"I teach practical ways to process and express emotion," said Wenburg. "That can apply to so many aspects of our lives – from our own self-talk to the way we interact in relationships and the type of influence we have on other people." 

Among other things, she will help students figure out what they want to express and the best way to accomplish that. 

"I want people to understand what it means to have and develop a voice of influence," said Wenburg. "A voice of influence allows you to say what you want to say with confidence, so that you can get what you want or at least have a good dialogue with someone." 

The benefits to that, according to Wenburg, include reduced tension, anxiety and conflict and increased respect and engagement. 

"It's the idea of being able to make a difference somehow instead of nagging or complaining," said Wenburg. "Instead of expressing emotions in a negative way to get what you want, you do it in a loving way that helps you connect with the other person." 

Another positive side effect of improved communication is increased efficiency – something that can be beneficial to everyone. 

"There are lots of things we can spend our time on," said Wenburg. "But, we can all gain so much if we make a core change inside ourselves. By doing that, we actually gain time in the end because we are no longer worrying and mulling things over. Everything in our lives is better." 

The cost of the class is $49. More information can be provided through the BCE office at (308) 535-3678. Online registration is available at

Mar 16
NPCC students inducted into PTK


A total of 53 students were inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa academic honor society on Sunday at North Platte Community College. All were selected based on grade point average. 

The complete list of inductees is as follows: 


Ainsworth - Whittney Pirnie 

Brady - Allison Hood, Nathaniel Sitorius 

Broken Bow - Emily Gottschalk 

Brule - Lydian Shipp 

Elsie - Amanda Osler

Elwood - Heidi Button 

Gothenburg - Madison Gilg 

Hershey - Madison Hoatson, Ashlee Pierce 

Imperial - Kinberlyn Benitez, Eric Chavira 

North Platte - Duelly Baxter, Michael Bergmeier, Mickenzie Brennan, Mikenna Curlee, Sarah Dillenburg, Roberta Eller, Jessica Fernandez, Anna Griffiths, Micaelia Hernandez, Jasmine Johnsey, Shayna Kramer, Cheyanne Kuhlmann, Dru Linderman, Summer Malsbury, Stephanie Manka, Susan Marquez, Jaedyn Michaels, Stephen Monfee, Robert Park, Andrew Pavelka, Austin Phillips, John Schroder, Justine Sowle, Karly Stahl, Taylor Wiese 

Ogallala - Elizabeth Meyer 

Stapleton - Morgan Klosen 

Sutherland - Kayla Bush, Jocey Nelson 

Tryon - Michaela Schultis

Valentine - Carolyn Moore-Petersen 


Riverside - Victor Lewis 


Brighton - Erin Renwick 

Denver - Shelby Belloni 

Frederick - Samantha Foster, Antonia Villani 

Julesburg - Noah Blochowitz 

Otis - Antonya Schaffert 


Lake Worth - Mike Amius 


San Antonio - Lexa Lealiiee, Loren Lealiiee

Mar 16
MPCC Imperial Campus: bridging a communication gap


English as a Second Language students look over notes during a class at the Mid-Plains Community College campus in Imperial. The ESL classes are helping to bridge a communication gap in the community.

It may be small, but it's doing big things. 

The Mid-Plains Community College Imperial Campus has been meeting the educational needs in Southwestern Nebraska and Northeastern Colorado since 2003. Now it's becoming known for another reason – successfully breaking down language barriers. 

"Our English as a Second Language class is proving to be extremely popular," said Brenda Ledall, campus coordinator. "It's opening up a whole world of possibilities." 

As of the 2010 Census, Imperial's population was 2,071 and about 15 percent was Hispanic or Latino. In the community's public schools, which pull students from throughout the county, the percentage is even higher – around 34 percent. 

Jason Tuller, community development director for the City of Imperial, said much of the original Hispanic and Latino population moved in to work seasonal jobs, such as planting and harvesting potatoes, or hired on at local feedlots, dairy farms and hog farms. Once those immigrants put down roots, they stayed. 

"There are actually two groups," said Tuller. "There's the group that's lived here for years, then there's those moving in now. I think because we have a base of Spanish-speaking residents already, it makes the community more appealing to others who speak Spanish." 


The challenge for the newcomers is that they are moving into a region where English is the primary language. The ESL classes are an effort to help the immigrants not only adapt to their new home, but also improve their lives. It seems to be working.

Venedith Vargas, ESL instructor, tells the story of a former student, who took the most basic ESL classes offered in order to move up from a job as a housekeeper. That student then went on to become a nursing assistant through MPCC and was recently named "Employee of the Month" at her workplace. 

"There are a lot of others just like her," said Vargas. "Most of our students are stay-at-home moms, but some were professionals in Mexico before they moved here. Right now, I'm teaching an engineer and a former business manager." 

The ESL classes are open to all levels of English-speaking individuals. The only requirement is that students be at least 18 and not in the public school system. 

Enrollment is open year-round, and classes are offered in three-hour sessions multiple times of the week. There's typically fewer than 10 students in each session, which allows for one-on-one instruction. It also builds camaraderie. 


"The ESL students tend to have a lot of fun," said Connie Thompson, also an ESL instructor at the college. "They rely on one another for help. Because they are all learning together, they aren't as embarrassed to practice English in front of each other as they might be in front of a native English speaker." 

She's a firm believer that the message sent by the course offering is just as important as the skills learned. 

"The classes show the rest of the community that these students are trying to learn English," said Thompson. "As for the students, themselves, they gain a sense of pride by being able to communicate with doctors, dentists and others without having to take their kids out of school or rely on friends or relatives to translate for them." 

Vargas couldn't agree more, and she's grateful that the Imperial Campus provides an opportunity that might not otherwise be available to local Hispanic and Latino residents. 

"The ESL classes are a gift our students give to themselves," said Vargas. "It's personal time, a learning opportunity and a quality of growth subsequently reflected in our community." 

More information about the ESL classes is available through the Imperial Campus, 1324 Broadway, in Imperial, by calling (308) 882-5972 or by emailing

Mar 16
MPEA offers $1,000 scholarships


Two $1,000 scholarships are up for grabs at North Platte Community College. 

They are available to any student enrolled in at least nine credit hours for the fall of 2017. Applicants must have already completed at least 12 credit hours and have a minimum 3.0 GPA to be considered. 

The scholarships are awarded every year by NPCC non-technical faculty members of the Mid-Plains Education Association. They raise the funds by collecting donations and hosting 50/50 raffles at home athletic events. 

"These are unique scholarships," said Aaron McLean, MPEA vice president. "We don't have limitations that the money must be spent on tuition or books. It can be for cost of living, school supplies or whatever else would help students be successful in college." 

MPEA members will choose the winners. Selections will be based on academic excellence and responses to essay questions asking applicants to describe how a scholarship would help them achieve their goals and what difference a degree from NPCC would make in their lives. 

Applications are available at the NPCC Financial Aid Office, in the Welcome Center on South Campus and from any MPEA member. 

Completed forms must be returned to McLean in Room 207 of the Health and Science Center by April 7. Scholarship recipients will be announced April 27 at the NPCC Honors Convocation.

Mar 16
Miller honored for work with adult education



A Mid-Plains Community College instructor has been recognized at the national level for work in the field of adult education. 

Renee Miller, of Sutherland, was named as a runner-up for the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award by the Coalition on Adult Basic Education. 

Robin Rankin, MPCC area director of Adult Education, submitted the nomination, which was supported by letters from Miller's colleagues. 

"Renee is an inspiration to her students," said Rankin. "She works tirelessly to make sure they have every opportunity for goal completion and advancement. We are thrilled that Renee made the final round for this prestigious award." 

In her letter of support, Vicki Bauer, state director of Nebraska's ABE program, said it has been refreshing to see Miller learn and grow as an outstanding staff member. 

"Her energizing and uplifting personality makes her a favorite among her students and colleagues," the letter reads. 

Bauer said Miller's experience provides the background needed to work with diverse populations - an element crucial to a successful and productive ABE program. 

She commended Miller for her initiative and strong organizational skills as well as a willingness to try new things to improve both the MPCC and state ABE programs. 

Miller volunteers for pilot projects, serves as a "sounding board" for the planning and implementation of policies and procedures and presents at state and regional conferences. 

Over the years, she has also recruited, trained and reported on numerous volunteers for the adult education program. 

"Renee is always learning and using what she learns to improve her teaching and her colleagues," said Andy Long, MPCC area vice president of student affairs. "She is willing to invest herself in the education of our students. Additionally, her enthusiasm, ability and knowledge has helped develop instructors across the state." 

Miller was both excited and humbled by the recognition. 

"The only way I can do all of the things I do is with the support of my family, my in-laws, the college's adult education team and God's guidance," said Miller. "I'm grateful to Robin and Kristy Volentine [also an ABE instructor]. Without their support, encouragement and diligence in putting together this nomination, I would never have had the chance at this award." 

The Coalition on Adult Basic Education uses the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award to highlight excellence and inspire other educators so that adults succeed and communities thrive. More information about the organization can be found online at

Mar 15
NPCC to present “The How and the Why”

Theater curtain.jpg

Science, family and survival of the fittest. Those are the underlying themes of an upcoming play at North Platte Community College. 

NPCC's theater department will present, "The How and the Why" next month. The play was written by Sarah Treem, also the writer of dramas such as "The Affair," "House of Cards" and "In Treatment."   

In "The How and the Why," two evolutionary biologists, Zelda and Rachel, meet on the eve of a national conference. Both share a passion for science and a contrarian approach to their male-dominated field. However, when the younger scholar challenges the older biologist's theories, mysteries about their relationship begin to unfold. 

The production offers differing views on evolution, feminism and generational divides in modern America and is likely to keep audience members talking long after it is over. 

"This play will be an intimate view of several feminist issues, but will also touch the humanity in all of us - man or woman," said Ritch Galvan, NPCC theater instructor. "The play is a two-character study, and the theater space will be used in a new and interesting way so the audience can be drawn into the lives of these two women." 

Bea Webster and Wendi Stover will star in the production. The play will begin at 7:30 p.m. April 5-8. Tickets can be purchased at the door at a cost of $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. NPCC students, faculty and staff will be admitted for free. 

Mar 14
Free Youth ATV Training begins in April

Youth ATV.jpg

The Business and Community Education department at Mid-Plains Community College will expand its Free Youth ATV Training this spring by adding classes in Thedford and Benkelman. 

Trainings will continue to be offered in the traditional locations of North Platte, McCook, Imperial, Ogallala, Broken Bow and Valentine as well. 

"The need for quality rider safety training is becoming more of a necessity every year as we continue to see serious injuries attributed to ATVs," said Crystal Welch, Business and Community Education coordinator. "We are happy to be offering this very important training to our area youth." 

The first training is scheduled for April 8 at the North Platte Community College North Campus. There will be two sessions to choose from: 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. 

Classes will be divided by age group, 6-9 and 10-16. Six students from each age group will be allowed in each session. 

The curriculum, developed by Central States Safety Driver Training, will consist of a combination of safety instruction and guided, hands-on ATV operation. Participants will practice turns, stops and terrain navigation. 

Instruction topics will include ATV injury and fatality statistics, how ATV size can contribute to rollover injuries and fatalities, the dangers of carrying passengers and material on ATVs, risks of traveling on public roads and safety procedures and practices. 

Those who complete the program successfully will receive a certificate that aligns with insurance company requirements. 

ATVs in different sizes will be used during the trainings. Parents of children younger than 10 must stay for their child's class. 

Other requirements include:

  • Closed-toe footwear (preferably over the ankle)
  • Long, non-flare pants
  • A long-sleeved shirt or jacket
  • Approved eye protection (will be provided if a participant does not have any)
  • A helmet (will be provided if a participant doesn't have one) 

Those unable to attend the training in North Platte will have the option of taking it at any of the following times and locations: 

  • April 22 - Cherry County Fairgrounds, Valentine
  • April 29 - Custer County Fairgrounds, Broken Bow
  • May 20 - Nebraska Department of Roads, Ogallala
  • May 23 – Thomas County Fairgrounds, Thedford
  • June 14 – Dundy County Fairgrounds, Benkelman
  • June 15 - Red Willow County Fairgrounds, McCook
  • June 21 -  Chase County Fairgrounds, Imperial 

Space is limited in all classes. Pre-registration is required by calling (308) 535-3678. 

The trainings are possible thanks to a grant from the CHS Foundation, of Inver Grove Heights, Minn. The money is administered through the NPCC Foundation. 

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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​