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Jun 25
Summer Fine Arts Series made possible by generous donors

North Platte Kids Klub members will have the opportunity to learn about everything from painting and composing to theater and ballet this summer. 

Kids Klub provides after school and summer programming through the North Platte Public Schools. This year, the organization is partnering with Mid-Plains Community College to offer exclusive fine arts experiences July 15-19 for kindergarten through fifth grade students. 

The offerings wouldn't be possible without the generous support of the following organizations: the Nebraska Arts Council, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, John Russell Applegate funds administered by the Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation and the Johnny Carson Foundation. 

"This is a really exciting opportunity that will expose kids to the fine arts through unique, age-appropriate activities provided by both local instructors and regional organizations," said Alecia Hothan, MPCC area grants coordinator. "We hope the program will be a huge success so we can expand it out to the public next summer."

The Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency, has supported this arts event through its matching grants program funded by the Nebraska Legislature and The National Endowment for the Arts and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Visit for information on how the Nebraska Arts Council can assist your organization. 

Jun 25
NPCC to host animation camp with L.A.-based artists


Animation experts from Los Angeles will bring their skills to North Platte next month. The Business and Community Education department at North Platte Community College will host an animation camp July 15-19 for anyone 12 or older. Just a few openings remain. 

The camp, "Animation Playground," will be led by Erica Larsen-Dockray, founder and director of the Calibraska Arts Initiative. Started in 2013, Calibraska uses creative connections to bring together individuals in California and Nebraska who might not otherwise interact.  

The organization provides Nebraskans with access to high-end educational opportunities, mentorship, training and exposure to L.A. creative industries and also allows Los Angeles artists and students to experience Midwestern culture and hospitality. 

It's a cause near and dear to Larsen-Dockray's heart as she, although now living north of L.A., is originally from Scottsbluff. 

"It's this whole attitude of 'pay it forward'," Larsen-Dockray said. "I was that kid who loved animation, but really had no idea what types of animation existed, what careers were available in the field or what opportunities were out there. So, this is really just about giving back to my home state and helping others make that connection to the industry in L.A." 


Larsen-Dockray has a master's degree in Experimental Animation and Integrated Media from the California Institute of the Arts School of Film and Video. She currently teaches and creates animation in Los Angeles. Larsen-Dockray also serves on the advisory council for the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

Jeff Smeltzer, NPCC's Business and Community Education coordinator, first learned about her and Calibraska while visiting the West Nebraska Arts Center when it was hosting animation camps. He jumped on the opportunity to bring similar training to North Platte. 

"NPCC is excited to bring in animation programming of this caliber to our area," said Smeltzer. "This is an opportunity to transform lives through such an exceptional learning experience and connection to new industries of art making." 

The camp in North Platte will introduce students to the basics of animation. 

"They will learn how to make something move the way they want it to move, some history of animation and will also interact with industry experts," said Larsen-Dockray. "They will do a lot of under camera animation using the same software that is used in big studios." 

Class techniques will include optical toys, flipbooks, clay, sand, scratch and paint on film, pixilation, light animation and more. Students will use a downshooter system to create their own animated short film for a final presentation. 


Larsen-Dockray will be assisted by animator Ezra Sky Peterson-Behnen who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. The camp will also include a Skype question and answer session with additional L.A. animators. 

"We would love to have educators come and learn the process of animation as well as students," Larsen-Dockray said. "It's a great entry point into science, history, invention and technology among many other subject areas, and it's a field that people can get into at any age." 

It's also a career that is becoming an option in locations outside of big cities. 

"A lot of the work I do is virtual," said Larsen-Dockray. "When I freelance, I just upload my files online, talk in chat rooms and share over the Internet. More avenues are opening up all the time that allow animators to work from almost anywhere in the world – not just L.A." 

Animation Playground is possible thanks to the support of the Nebraska Arts Council, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, John Russell Applegate funds administered by the Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation and the Johnny Carson Foundation. 

More information about the camp is available through Smeltzer at (308) 535-3687 or

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The Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency, has supported this arts event through its matching grants program funded by the Nebraska Legislature and The National Endowment for the Arts and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Visit for information on how the Nebraska Arts Council can assist your organization. 

Jun 25
Multiple appearances planned for MPCC raffle car in coming weeks

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The public will have several opportunities to view and buy tickets for the Mid-Plains Community College raffle car over the next couple of weeks. 

Beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, the 1969 Ford Mustang Convertible will be on display at the Lincoln County Raceway in North Platte for the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series show. 

From there, the Mustang will travel to Lexington. It will be a part of the Dawson County Raceway's Napa Auto Parts Night at the Races on Sunday. Gates open at 3:30 p.m. 

The raffle car will start out at Sutherland's Railroad Park from 8 a.m. to noon Central Time on July 4 before ending the day in Grant. It will be set up in Grant's city park from noon to 5 p.m. Mountain Time. 

The Mustang's tour of the state continues in St. Paul on July 5. It will be at the Royal Coachmen Car Club's 28th Annual Car and Motorcycle Show from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

The raffle car will wrap up its two-week itinerary with a stop in Brainard for the 18th Annual Pride and Performance Show from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 7. 

About the car 

The Mustang is the 15th raffle car produced by MPCC's Transportation Division. It was restored by students in MPCC's Automotive Technology and Auto Body Technology programs. 

The car came from Stuart, Neb. The students disassembled it – essentially reducing it down to a shell. They then sandblasted the body and frame to bare metal. 

From there, they embarked on the long and challenging process of transforming the vehicle into a work of art. The project required them to study traditional engineering and technology. 

"The interior is original in intent," said Don Wilson, MPCC Auto Body instructor. "The students learned how to put on, align and paint quarter panels Viper Venom Red. They installed a new top, floorboards, carpet, seats and a dash pad. They also removed then reassembled the instrument panel, including the speedometer." 

The car was completely rebuilt inside and out, according to Bryan Herrick, MPCC's first year Automotive Technology instructor. 

The 302 cubic inch V8 engine and transmission were rebuilt in Herrick's classes as were the suspension and chassis. Four wheel disc brakes and Magnum 500 wheels were added in the process. 

The tour 

The car will tour the state throughout the summer, making appearances at car shows, parades and cruise night events. 

The state allows MPCC to conduct the raffle within a 90-day window. A total of 10,000 raffle tickets will be offered at a price of $10 each. Proceeds will be used for scholarships for students in the college's transportation programs and to help offset the cost of producing the next raffle car project. 

Tickets will be sold everywhere the vehicle is displayed. A schedule is posted at  

Tickets can also be purchased in the welcome centers at any of MPCC's campuses in McCook, North Platte, Broken Bow, Imperial, Ogallala and Valentine. 

Additionally, a number of businesses, organizations and individuals are selling tickets. In North Platte, those include: North Platte Buick GMC, Cohagen Battery Store, Grandma's Memories Antiques and Collectibles, Isabelle's Auction House, A.J. Janas, ABC Auto Salvage, Pat Smith, Jody's Auto Sales, Larry's Barber Shop, Modern Tire Pros, Twin Rivers Body Shop, LKQ Corporation and E.J.'s Outdoor Sports. The Curtis Collision Center, Yellow Rose Lounge and Herrick Auto and Marine in Curtis will also have tickets available, as will Smith Signs in Kearney. 

The drawing for the Mustang will be at 2 p.m. Sept. 7 during the 24th annual Colonel Cody's Cruise Show and Shine in Memorial Park. 

Jun 19
MPCC gives back through NEBRASKAland Days activities

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Mid-Plains Community College has been well-represented at NEBRASKAland Days activities this year. Numerous students and employees volunteered to take part in the state's official celebration in North Platte the past couple of weeks. 

Among other things, they unveiled the 2019 MPCC raffle car, a 1969 Ford Mustang Convertible, during the Antique Car Display in Memorial Park. 

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Mid-Plains reps also participated in the Antique Car Parade, NEBRASKAland Days on Parade, the Sweet Saloon, Golden Games, Cowboy Kickball, the NLD Buffalo Bill Rodeo Golf Classic and Business Night during the Buffalo Bill Rodeo. 

Additionally, MPCC President Ryan Purdy presented two-year, renewable full-tuition scholarships to the new Miss Rodeo Nebraska 2020, Joeli Walrath, and the newly crowned Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska 2019, Brylee Thompson.

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Jun 18
Pinning ceremony planned for LPN students

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Eighteen Licensed Practical Nursing students will be honored June 28 at North Platte Community College. The public is invited to a pinning ceremony at 11 a.m. in the McDonald-Belton Theater on NPCC's South Campus. 

Pinning ceremonies represent a significant step in the process to becoming a LPN. The following students will be recognized: 


Bassett – Jessica Hollenbeck, Jurnee Saner 

Cozad – Elisha Keim 

Culbertson – Bryce Jones 

Hershey – Cindy Glos, Yvonne Quesada-Witt 

Imperial – Kaycee Tucker 

Maxwell - Angelia Smith 

McCook – Amanda Bennett, Baylie Simmonds, Ashley Walkington, Cailee Zwickle 

North Platte – Anna Junker, Karisa Rodriguez, Cortney Scott, Mindy Schmadeke, Courtney Viter 

South Dakota 

Kadoka – Robyn Jones

Jun 17
MPCC cowboy finishes third in the nation


JD Draper prepares to wrestle a steer at the MPCC Stampede last fall. Draper finished the collegiate rodeo season third in the nation.

Mid-Plains Community College steer wrestler JD Draper is third in the nation following the conclusion of the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. Draper threw his third and final steer in 5.2 seconds during the short go on Saturday. 

"JD did very well," said Garrett Nokes, MPCC rodeo team timed event coach. "He made good, consistent runs all the way through. There were a couple of times when he could have probably pressed harder, but the important thing is that he stayed in there, and that's what a person needs to do at that level of competition." 

Draper, of Oakley, Kan., had a total time of 20.2 seconds on three head. 

"He was never quicker than 4.8, but never longer than 5.2," said Nokes. "He just got in there and took care of business every run." 

Making it to the final round of the CNFR had been a goal of Draper's for a long time. Once he was there, he had to contend with the pressure of competing alongside the toughest steer wrestlers in the country – many of them professionals.

"Garrett taught me to think about one steer at a time, which helped," Draper said. "I had to look at the competition as just another rodeo. Whether it's the biggest rodeo in the world, or a day in the practice pen, I have to focus on me and doing the best job I can." 

He was quick to point out that the success wasn't his alone, however. 

"I have to thank Garrett, steer wrestler Chad VanCampen, of McCook, and my family," said Draper. "If not for them, I wouldn't have been able to do as well as I did. I also want to thank Austin Madison [a MPCC rodeo team member from Whiting, Iowa] for hazing for me." 

Draper plans to return to Mid-Plains in the fall to spend one more year learning the business side of rodeo from Nokes. His CNFR qualifying teammates: Madison; Koby Jacobson, of Haiku, Hawaii; Marshall Still, of Oconto; Danielle Wray, of Ord and Wyatt Williams and team alternate Chance Williams, both of Ord, will all return with him. The only one who will not is Clay Bauer, of Arcadia, who graduated. 

"I think it's awesome as a community college to take seven to nationals and only lose one going into the next year," Nokes said. "Now that they've had that experience, there's no doubt in my mind that they will be back." 

Nokes said the steer wrestlers as a whole did an outstanding job. Still's first steer dog fell with him, meaning the steer fell in the opposite direction that Still was trying to throw him. Still had to stand the steer up and re-throw him. 

"He made a good run in the second round and placed in the third round," said Nokes. "He just missed the short go by two, and finished 14th in the nation. Austin Madison had a pretty strong steer in the first round, then he came back and had a 4.5 in the second round to place seventh. He should have won the third round, but the steer hung a leg, and he had to roll him off it." 

Nokes said if Madison's final steer would have hit like he was supposed to, Madison probably would have had a 3.4-3.5 and would have won the round. 

"I don't know if was jitters, but the rest of the team didn't have much luck," Nokes said. "The team ropers both had trouble in the first round, and that makes it awful tough. It ends up being a rough week when you start off like that." 

In the tie-down roping, Bauer was riding a borrowed horse and had never roped a fresh calf on him. His timing was off. He missed the first calf, then roped the second, but the calf got up. Bauer took a chance on the third calf, trying to be fast, and missed it as well. 

"The team ropers did good," said Nokes. "Maybe they could have been helped by their partners a little bit more or done better themselves, but they will be back. Koby hadn't seen bulls like that before. They were big, rank professional bulls, and he couldn't quite make it to the whistle on any of the three, but I have no doubts that he will be back there next year, too, going for a bit of revenge." 

Overall, Nokes was happy with how the team did and the exposure they got to a higher level of competition. 

"I was awful proud of how the kids handled themselves both in and out of the rodeo arena," Nokes said. "Even when things weren't going so well for them, they were polite and respectful and carried their heads high. I think that's a great reflection on them, on the team and on Mid-Plains Community College."

Jun 17
MC​C music major to study at Liszt Academy in Hungary

Beth Hoyt selected to Kodaly Institute

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McCook Community College music major Beth Hoyt was recently accepted to study voice and musicianship at the renown Kodály Institute of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, Kecskemét, Hungary. She will attend a two-week summer music institute in July.

This institute is known as one of the best in the world for all-around music training, and is a satellite location of the world renowned Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. The seminar is organized every second year in conjunction with an international music festival.

"Studying abroad is something I always wanted to do and I was talking to my Music Instructor, Dr. Mirna Cabrera, who told me about her experiences at the Liszt Academy," Beth said. "When she received information about this year's summer opportunities, she encouraged me to apply. I was accepted and I also received a $1,500 scholarship to help pay for it."

As an alumnae of the Liszt Academy, Dr. Cabrera studied there during the summers of 2005, 2007 and 2009, as well as completing the first semester of the general diploma in fall 2007.

"I am proud that we found a way to sponsor part of Beth's studies there, and to send one of my devoted students to enrich her MCC music education at this prestigious institution," Dr. Cabrera said.

The 30th International Kodály Seminar will bring international master teachers and performing artists for a combination of summer music education and musical performances from July 15-26. Three different class types are offered: music pedagogy, piano master class, and vocal master class which Beth will attend. These will include individual lessons, lectures and analyzing music. All groups will sing in a choir at Kodály Art Festival.

Each day students will spend three hours of morning vocal training, and another five hours of individual lessons, performance classes and lectures throughout the rest of the day. The high concentration of music in her life is something Beth has come to embrace completing her first year as an MCC music major.

"My freshman year was a lot of hard work – more than I expected," she said, adding that the real challenge was from a time-management standpoint. "After I got the hang of things, I had a good year, I feel like a learned a lot and feel like I've grown as a musician especially in theory and sight singing -- and with piano."

As she got more involved with other things in high school, piano was one of the things she set aside, but is happy she picked it back at MCC and is pleased with her improvement.

"Beth has the self-discipline and well-rounded skills of a musician who will be able to handle the rigor of their curriculum and represent our community college abroad," said Dr. Cabrera.

Before the opportunity arose to study abroad, Beth admits her knowledge of Hungary was pretty much limited to knowing Budapest is the capital city. To alleviate her family's concerns about Beth traveling alone in a foreign country, her mother Sarah came up with a solution.

"Mom's going with me," Beth said, and she's excited they get to experience it together. They are leaving a few days early for a couple days stay in Budapest and will remain a few days later with plans to go to Vienna, Austria, where she'd really like to see an opera.

"I'm really excited really about the trip and thankful that I got this opportunity," she said.

Jun 12
MCC students learning 'Photography On Location'

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​McCook Community College photography students had the chance this week to work with portable photo boxes controlling light for product close-up shots.

These students are in the second of a two-week "Photography On Location" class taught by Becky Meyers instructor of the MPCC Graphic Design and Visual Communications Program.

Students have taken field trips to a variety of locations in the area gaining experience with a number of photography techniques and skills.

Meyers said this is an ideal class for students who want to learn more about digital photography. The Digital Imaging class this fall is a great class for students to follow the summer class since students learn Photoshop skills.


Jun 12
MPCC represented at golf tourney

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Four representatives from Mid-Plains Community College participated in the NEBRASKAland Days Buffalo Bill Rodeo Golf Classic. The tournament was Tuesday at River's Edge Golf Course in North Platte. Pictured left to right are: Jeff Thurman, NPCC head women's basketball coach; Kevin O'Connor, NPCC head men's basketball coach; MPCC President Ryan Purdy and Paul Knopick, area director of early entry and program development.

Jun 11
MPCC nursing students score in top two percent on exit exams

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Ronda Haumann

Three students from Mid-Plains Community College have scored in the top two percent of the nation on their exit exams. The students are: Ronda Haumann, of Thedford, Jocey Nelson, of Sutherland, and Ashleigh Cardwell, of North Platte. 

The Health Education Systems Incorporated (HESI) Registered Nurse Exit Exam is an assessment used by some nursing programs to determine whether a student is ready to take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) – RN exam. Nursing school graduates must past the NCLEX to receive a nursing license. 

The HESI exam compared the scores of the MPCC students to those of a standard or "norm" group of 55,536 nursing students from across the nation, representing every type of RN program - diploma, associate degree and baccalaureate degree. 

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Jocey Nelson

All MPCC nursing students who took the HESI Exit Exam for the RN class of 2019 scored in the top 68th percentile or higher. 

Additionally, Haumann scored 144th with a 99.74 percent ranking. Nelson came in at 1,305 with a 97.65 percent ranking, and Cardwell was number 1,005 with a 98.19 percent ranking. 

"I am very proud of all of our nursing graduates and the scores that they achieved on their HESI exit exams this year," said Dr. Kathy Harrison, MPCC director of nursing. "The HESI scores that were obtained by this nursing class show that they all have a high potential for passing the NCLEX-RN on their first attempt. I believe that our NCLEX-RN first-time pass rates will increase this year as a result of these scores and the students' hard work and dedication." 

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Ashleigh Cardwell

More information about the nursing program at MPCC is available at

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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​