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They met as strangers 40 years ago at Northeast and remain close friends

They met as strangers 40 years ago at Northeast and remain close friends

NORFOLK, Neb. – There may have been no computers, cell phones or social media on the Northeast Community College campus 40 years ago, but a group of students from that time agree the things that make Northeast unique were already in place.

Five members of the Class of 1982 got together to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their graduation and catch up on their personal lives. Tracy (Vanderheiden) Stoltzman, Norfolk, said the “Fab 5” went in different directions after college, but all agreed that their choice to attend Northeast was right for each of them.

“It was a solid educational choice that was financially reasonable, close to home, and in a quaint sized community college with a big heart,” Stoltzman said. “The teachers, staff and administration were invested in each student’s collegiate success and provided a safe, encouraging learning environment.”

The other four members of the group are Lynlee (Anderson) Medhi, Walthill; Jackie (Marx) Kopetka, Wynot; Joyce (Hagedorn) Ortmeier, West Point; and Doris (Hunke) Batty, Snyder. A sixth friend, Donell (Eucker) McKenzie, Madison, passed away in 1995. 

“We six began college in the fall of 1980 as strangers,” Stoltzman said, “but quickly became acquaintances and classmates. Some rapidly became dorm roommates. Ultimately, the fruition of an enduring friendship blossomed.” 

Members of the group remember the Northeast campus as bustling with energy with a variety of social events and activities to keep students active and involved. The women remember participating in volleyball, cheerleading, Hawk’s mascot, swing choir, theatre, intramural sports, work study, and watching lots of men’s basketball games.

“We all admitted to staring at and crushing on those cute boys’ basketball players that walked amongst us on campus,” Stoltzman said with a laugh. 
Over the past 40 years, one or more of the 1982 alums have furthered their education, lived abroad, moved out of state, worked as an educator and been named teacher of the year, married, had children, survived breast cancer and the death of a spouse, been the proprietor of an evolving self-employed business, and chief financial officer for an international company. 

Those successes, the “Fab 5” said, all started on the Northeast campus with the help of caring faculty, staff, and administrators.

“When you had questions, they were answered or they referred you on to someone who could be helpful,” Stoltzman said. “We experienced teachers who were both professional and positive which created a high standard classroom experience. They were approachable and kind. We knew "we mattered" which was reassuring when you come from a smaller populated high school and entered the college arena of studies.”

“On a deeper level,” Stoltzman continued, “what we personally discovered while attending Northeast was explained perfectly by Doris Batty. It is the gift of friendship . . . that we will never tire of celebrating.” 

“It is a privilege to acknowledge that we all graduated from NTCC (Northeast Technical Community College, the official name of the college in 1982),” Stoltzman concluded. “We are the proud graduates of the Class of May 1982.”


                                                                                       PHOTO CUTLINE 

Five friends, members of the Class of 1982 at Northeast Community College, show off their copies of a book on the history of the College.  Pictured (from left) are Joyce (Hagedorn) Ortmeier, West Point; Jackie (Marx) Kopetka, Wynot; Tracy (Vanderheiden) Stoltzman, Norfolk; Doris (Hunke) Batty, Snyder; and Lynlee (Anderson) Medhi, Walthill