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Jul 17
MPCC partnership breaks down language barriers


Students in Kara Hagan’s English as a Second Language class at Imperial Beef use cards with nouns, verbs and adjectives to create sentences. 

A new partnership between the Mid-Plains Community College Imperial Campus and a feedlot in Southwest Nebraska is improving communication skills. 

Kara Hagan is an English as a Second Language instructor for MPCC. She has started a new program that's making it easier than ever for Spanish-speaking employees at Imperial Beef to learn English. 

"We're seeing crazy success," said Hagan. "So far, we have 29 students registered, and the class just began in April."

Hagan isn't new to ESL. In college, she worked in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Writing Center – tutoring ESL students. She also taught ESL classes at the Lincoln County Detention Center in North Platte before relocating to Imperial. She's excited to be able to put her experience into practice. 

"There's such a need for ESL," said Hagan. "It's really important to me that everyone be able to effectively communicate. Anyone who is a non-native English speaker still has a basic need and desire to want to fit in and be part of a social circle of some sort, and the way that is accomplished is by communicating. Students are in my classes because they want to learn a new language. They don't want to be different." 


ESL students at Imperial Beef learn how to spell words by playing Hangman. 

She got the idea for the partnership with Imperial Beef after teaching an ESL night class at the Imperial campus for spouses of Imperial Beef employees. 

"Their husbands couldn't commit to the time the class was offered because they were working," said Hagan. "So, I thought, 'What if I go to them, instead'?" 

Located approximately 13 miles northeast of Imperial, Imperial Beef is a nationally-recognized and established cattle feed yard. About two-thirds of its employees are primarily Spanish speaking. 

"When I took my idea to Imperial Beef owner, Brad Foote, he was enthusiastic from the start," said Hagan. "He also offered to help by providing dinner to participating employees on the nights classes are offered." 

Foote said he immediately saw the partnership as a natural fit. Many of his employees weren't born in the U.S., and they had been looking for ways to improve their English skills. They were excited about the idea of taking classes without having to travel. 

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ESL students at Imperial Beef review the past tense of verbs using flash cards. 

"Most of the Hispanic people in Imperial want to better themselves and be good neighbors and good people in the community," Foote said. "They want to be able to speak the English language so they can feel comfortable when they go to the grocery store, to a restaurant to order a meal or to a bank to open a checking account. If these classes help with that, then how could I not support them?"

Hagan is joined by another ESL instructor, Eric Gonzales, in teaching the classes from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Because Gonzales is bilingual, and Hagan is not, he teaches the basic English skills, and she teaches the more advanced skills such as proper grammar and punctuation. 

"By the time the students get to me, most are already fluent in English and just need to brush up their writing abilities," said Hagan. "The process – it's somewhat indescribable, but I'm smiling right now just thinking about it. The students work so hard. They might put in 12-hour days and then come to class as soon as their shifts are over. It's incredible." 

Salvador C. drives a feed truck at Imperial Beef and attends Hagan's classes. 

"I take the classes to increase my ESL level and to gain more opportunities in my job and life," Salvador said. "I understand good, but I'm excited to learn how to talk more and say things correctly – like using correct tenses when talking. My English really is better than when I started." 


Watching the growth in her students has inspired Hagan to pick up a second language as well. 

"I listen to a podcast every day to try to learn Spanish because of the excitement I see in my students," Hagan said. "For them to take what I'm saying and value it and put it to use – it's the greatest feeling in the world."

Jul 17
MPCC raffle car to make appearances across the state this week

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The Mid-Plains Community College raffle car is on the road again. The public will have the opportunity to view and buy tickets for the 1969 Ford Mustang Convertible at multiple locations this week. 

The car will start out by visiting at least four businesses in McCook on Thursday: MNB Realty from 10-11 a.m., Cappel Motors from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Arby's from 1-2 p.m. and Wireless World from 2:30-3:30 p.m. 

The next stop on the Mustang's tour will be the 32nd annual Cruise Nite in Kearney. The car will be set up at the Show and Shine at the fairgrounds from 5-7:30 p.m. Friday. It will also be a part of the Show and Shine on the Bricks from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. 

From Kearney, the Mustang will travel to the sixth annual Car Show and Shine in David City. It will be at the Butler County Fairgrounds from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. 

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. 

Jul 16
MPCC grads receive high ratings from area employers

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Cindy Williams takes a call at the Dave Major - State Farm Insurance agency in Valentine. Williams is an alumna of Mid-Plains Community College. 

Mid-Plains Community College continues to provide quality personnel for industries and employers in West Central Nebraska and beyond. 

That's according to a 2017-18 Graduates at Work Report released by MPCC. The information in the report was compiled from a combination of responses to a survey completed by graduates and from a survey of employers of MPCC graduates. 

Of those grads, 81 percent were from Nebraska, and 69 percent resided in MPCC's 18-county service area. The majority of them, 87 percent, rated the usefulness of their training at Mid-Plains as good or very good, which was up two percent from the previous year. 

Employers also rated MPCC favorably – at 4.55 on a 5.0 scale - for its overall training. That was up 10 percent from the year before. Additionally, 94 percent of employers said the training their employees received was good or very good - compared to 80 percent the previous year. 

On average, employers rated graduates' ability to produce quality results at 4.58 and their listening abilities at 4.58.

The report showed that 96 percent of technical graduates stayed in Nebraska for work and that 83 percent of them remained in MPCC's service area. 

The findings are important – not just for Mid-Plains, but for MPCC's service area in general, according to Tad Pfeifer, the college's area director of institutional effectiveness. 

"Graduates of Mid-Plains Community College become great assets for their employers," Pfeifer said. "As time goes on, more and more employers will be looking to our graduates for quality employees that know how to perform on the job." 

More information about MPCC and the educational opportunities it provides can be found online at

Jul 16
22 MCC student-athletes named to NJCAA all-Academic teams

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22 MCC student-athletes named to NJCAA all-Academic teams

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The National Junior College Athletic Association has announced that 22 McCook Community College students have been selected to one of three NJCAA all-Academic teams.

Of those 22, eight are members of the women's softball team, four each are from the women's basketball and volleyball teams, and three each play for the men's baseball and golf teams.

To make the first team, student-athletes must maintain a 4.00 grade-point average (GPA). Those with GPAs of 3.80-3.99 are eligible for second team honors and those with GPAs of 3.60-3.79 are named to the third team. Six MCC student-athletes were named first team, four selected to the second team and 12 were named to the third team.

Named to the first team with 4.00 grade-point averages were: Kiera Barr, Granby, Colo. (volleyball); Makenna Bodette, Colorado Springs (women's basketball); Ashley Carson, Ord (volleyball); Shaun Hickey, Summerville, New Brunswick (baseball); Larua Mata, Barcelona, Spain (women's basketball); and Emma McLean, Willetton, Western Australia (softball).

Selected to the second team were: Liliana Belton, Pleasant Hill, Calif. (softball); Nikki Cross, Melbourne, Australia (women's basketball); Graham Gaspard, Breckinridge, Colo. (golf); and Trevor Oberg, McCook, (golf).

Third team selections from MCC included: KC Carlson, Delta, Colo. (golf); Emily Charchuk, Victoria, British Columbia (softball); Brooklyn Evans, Ogden, Utah (volleyball); Makayla Harris, Brighton, Colo. (volleyball); Jade Hollands, Effingham, Kan. (softball); Jerusha Miner, Gunnison Valley, Utah (softball);  Shae Muggridge, Perth, Western Australia (softball); Kassidy Powers, Severance, Colo. (softball); Aubri Ross, Cambridge (softball); Anna Sanjuan, Reus, Spain (women's basketball); Mark Starks, Blair (baseball); and Kade Wroot, North Platte (baseball).

This year student-athletes from around the nation contributed to a new NJCAA record as 6,656 participants earned a spot on one of the three NJCAA All-Academic teams. This year's record eclipsed the previous mark of 6,329 set in the 2017-18 academic year.

"Year in and year out, NJCAA student-athletes continue to set a new standard both on the field and in the classroom," stated NJCAA President & CEO Dr. Christopher Parker."

The 2018-19 academic year was no different as student-athletes raised the bar once again to reiterate the importance of academics throughout the NJCAA. As an association, we take tremendous pride in knowing that our student-athletes put their best foot forward each day to become well-rounded members of their team, their campus, and their communities."

Jul 16
State teaching peers honor MCC's Lorrie Mowry

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'Outstanding Contributions to Business Education by a Post-Secondary Teacher'

LINCOLN – The Nebraska State Business Education Association recently named McCook Community College Business Instructor Lorrie Mowry the organization's winner of the 2019 award for "Outstanding Contributions to Business Education by a Post-Secondary Teacher."

Mowry, a full-time business instructor at MCC since 2004, received the honor at the organization's awards banquet. Recipients must be members of the organization teaching business at the secondary, post-secondary, or collegiate/university level (including business teacher education) and are nominated by NSBEA members. Mowry received several letters of recommendation.

She teaches business and business technology at MCC

"Lorrie is one of the most positive individuals that I've ever worked with," said one of several nomination letters. "She brings excitement and energy to her classes and always goes above and beyond to help promote our programs."

That nomination letter went on to say Mowry steps up and volunteers for various committees to help MCC move forward serving on the scholarship committee, the instructional services council, faculty negotiations and also serves on several Academic Quality Improvement Projects committees.

She was cited for her leadership in keeping curriculum current. "She is a forward thinker and always comes up with creative ways to implement these changes through classes or student organizations."

Another nomination letter singled out Mowry as an outstanding educator who puts the time in to make a difference outside the classroom. "Her excellence in the classroom, developing students, and providing community education makes her deserving of this award."

She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Fort Hays State University and also received a graduate certificate in Community College Leadership from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has served as community college liaison to Fort Hays State since 2007.

"Her students always talk about how interesting, challenging and stimulating her course content is and how this makes them achieve their maximum potential. She works hard to give students relevant examples and meaningful learning experiences through tours and guest speakers," said another nomination letter.

According to co-workers, Mowry is dedicated to make sure the courses she teaches will transfer to other institutions. She served on the Nebraska transfer Initiative common course syllabus development and also on the NETforce statewide committee for the Nebraska Entrepreneur Task Force.

At MCC she has taught more than 20 different courses as well as teaching courses for both Bellevue University and Concordia University. Over the years, she has polished and adjusted her delivery methods and formats to meet the needs of her students face-to-face, distance-learning and online environments. Her curriculum has been delivered in corporate-sponsored cohort groups, traditional 16-week semesters, hybrid formats, night/evening classes, and summer condensed terms.

"She works hard to ensure that the classes she teaches are top-notch experiences for students and ensures that students are learning practical applications for the workforce," said another nomination letter. "Lorrie is committed to teaching leadership both in and out of the classroom and works tirelessly to connect our students with local businesses to ensure our students receive real-world experiences in their classes and through internships."

She has led workshops for the Southwest Nebraska Leadership Institute Leadership series, the Republican Plains Activity Conference Leadership Day, and provides leadership presentations in the 18-county Mid-Plains area and presented a leadership seminar at the NBEA Convention in Chicago this past April.

Her past honors include 2017 (and 2008) Nebraska Phi Beta Lambda adviser of the year, 2016 Gene Budig Outstanding Faculty Award at MCC, the 2010 NISOD Award, the 2007 UMW Guiding Light award, and has received a NSBEA Best Award for 12 straight years.

"Ms. Mowry is known among students and colleagues for her high expectations of students and herself, her patience with even the most trying of student situations, her willingness to work with students outside of the classroom, her commitment to help each student improve his or her knowledge and skills, and her commitment to bring the best teaching and learning practices into the classroom."

Has been active in her home town of Cambridge in numerous organizations including, Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, her church's administrative council, PEO, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

The Nebraska State Business Education Association promotes education in Business, Marketing and Information Technology through instruction, best practices and opportunities for professional growth and networking among Nebraska educators.

Jul 15
Area youth learn about animation from L.A.-based experts

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"Animation Playground" participants view images using an optical toy Monday at North Platte Community College. The animation camp is hosted by NPCC's Business and Community Education department and is taught by L.A.-based experts. 

Among other things, participants are learning about flip-books, paint on film techniques, pixilation and light animation and are using a downshooter system to create their own animated short films.

Jul 11
Emergency responders invited to Flat Rock EMS Conference


Emergency responders will have the opportunity to brush up their skills through a combination of classroom and hands-on training next month. 

North Platte Community College will host the annual Flat Rock EMS Conference from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 17 on NPCC's South Campus. 

The conference is open to emergency medical technicians, paramedics, fire fighters, nurses, mid-level practitioners and physicians. The training is free and provides seven hours of continuing education to emergency medical responders and nurses. 

Participants will train on the Incident Command System in the morning, then will utilize what they learned in a mock large-scale mass casualty incident. Actors posing as patients will be moulaged, and first responders will be responsible for triaging, treating and transporting the patients to a mock hospital where intra-facility participants will have an opportunity to re-triage and re-treat the patients. 

"We are very excited for this year's conference," said Alex McConnell, the college's EMS/CPR coordinator. "Our goal is to increase not only department cohesiveness, but also that of first responders and the facilities to which they transport. The Flat Rock EMS conference is unique in that we provide a conference completely free of charge to the participants, including training, meals and continuing education certificates. It is an opportunity for MPCC and all of our sponsors to show our appreciation for and support of emergency responders." 

All day attendance is required. 

Breakfast and lunch will be provided, but pre-registration is necessary for the meals. The Business and Community Education department at the college is accepting registrations at: (308) 535-3678 and

In addition to the college, sponsors for the conference include: Great Plains Health, LifeNet North Platte, North Platte Fire Department and Priority Medical Transport.

Jul 10
Elementary STEM students at MCC for robotics camp

Robotics 2.jpgTwenty-three students in the third through eighth grade are on the McCook Community College campus this week for a three-day STEM Robotics Camp through the MCC summer Kid's Academy. Students are learning a variety of science, technology, engineering and math skills through several project objectives.

Jul 10
MCC’s Summer Kid’s Academy to present "Seussical Jr." July 19-20

Students in McCook Community College's Summer Kid's Academy Theatre Camp rehearse for the upcoming musical "Seussical, Jr." for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. This musical includes "Horton the Elephant," "The Cat in the Hat" and other Dr. Seuss characters. Performances are set for July 19 and 20 at 7 p.m. in the Weeth Theater  at Tipton Hall, with a free will donation.

Jul 10
32nd Accelerated Paramedic class underway at MCC

ROB STOECKEL OF OREGON, (left) tends to a patient during a training scenario on the McCook Community College campus Tuesday. He was assisted by Jozef Kuehn, Hartwell, and under the supervision of Joy Molcyk, Director EMS/Paramedic Program at Mid-Plains Community College. This is the 32nd class for MCC’s Accelerated Paramedic Program, which is offered three times a year, and filled with students from all over the United States and internationally.

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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​