The story of Wingspan

From the beginning of the college until 1975, the student newspaper, which was a tabloid format and printed erratically in Nebraska, had under gone at least three name changes. They included the “Engima,” “Campus Free Press” and “Crow Creek Gazette,” the latter referring to a dirty creek running occasionally through the southside of town.

In 1976, the format was changed to a biweekly newsmagazine; the name was changed to “Wingspan” after the college’s Golden Eagle mascot, and the printing was transferred to the college’s in-house media services department. {Wingspan trivia question: Who renamed the publication? In fall 1976, Jeanne Uphoff offered the new name, and we knew it was a perfect fit the moment we heard it.} Stability has remained ever since. In fall 1988, Wingspan became one of the first student publications in the nation to be desktop published completely.

The fall 1999 semester marked another milestone in Wingspan’s history when the administration increased funding for the publication. This allowed Wingspan to be published off campus at the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle by a press capable of running four-color photographs on the cover, back and centerspread. The format returned to a tabloid size. In addition, a fourth issue was added to each semester.

On May 18, 1995, Wingspan became the first student publication in Wyoming to go online via the Internet through the founding efforts of Vicki Cox and Jessica English.

In fall 2008, Wingspan started printing in full color on every page.

Throughout the years, the college has published a literary magazine, including the college’s first professionally printed one called “A Yuletide Fanfare.” In 1977, some 9,000 copies of this publication were printed using trustees’ innovative funds. However, it was not until 1989 that a formal Literary/Arts Magazine Club was formed and an adviser named. The High Plains Register, which was desktop published by students, was printed locally until 1999. It was revitalized in 2001.

Beginning with the fall semester 2012, the department assumed responsibility for Charter cable television Channel 11, providing another outlet for student work. The channel has since moved to become Charter Channel 191. Students produce broadcasts of college events to broadcast on Channel 191 and online via Wingspan’s YouTube Channel. Some of these events include graduation, home basketball games and Board of Trustees meetings. Students also produce live election coverage via Channel 191 during election years.

In 2015, a new weekly series, the Wingspan Weekly, was launched. This 1- to 2-minute broadcast highlights the top stories of the week. It runs at the top of the hour on Channel 191. A close-captioned version is published on YouTube and Facebook.

Also in 2015, Wingspan launched the Wingspan News Digest, a new weekly email edition that highlights the top stories of the week that are produced for Wingspan Online.


The original facility was simply a classroom, with a converted closet used as a darkroom and shared with the college’s audiovisual department and the criminal justice program. When the college built its College Community Center, the student newspaper moved into a room adjacent to the theatre; however, the closet darkroom in the other building had to be used. The department also had no typewriters.

The bond issue of 1979 funded a new Fine Arts Building, which now houses a 12-station black and white and color darkroom. The five-mill levy approved by the voters in November 1998 funded a remodeling of the Fine Arts Building finished in January 2001. Now the Wingspan staff has its own separate newsroom and kitchenette but also utilizes the Multimedia Lab with 15 high-end computers; black/white and color laser printers and scanners.

With the takeover of broadcasting, Wingspan has a broadcasting room adjacent to the newsroom and a production studio down the hall.

Scholarships and awards

John and Dana Metzke established the first scholarship in the department, the Lewis E. Bates Scholarship, named after Dana’s father, a former Wyoming State Tribune editor.

In April 1999, a former Wingspan editor, Paul Jordan, died of a heart attack at age 52. His trust left $100,000 to the department to fund scholarships and equipment each year.

In May 2004, the Candy Van Dyke Investigative Reporting Award was established upon her death at age 42 in April 2004. She was an award-winning editor of Wingspan and Wingspan Online and a local newswoman. The first recipients of the award were Michelle Stoll and Jenée White for their work on the proposed relocation of Triumph High School to the LCCC campus.

The Robert and Rosalind Schliske scholarship funded its first recipients in fall 2005.

In May 2006, the Kristi Barkhurst “Magic” Award was established to honor a student who excels in communication graphics. She was an online editor who could work magic on illustrations and photos in Photoshop. She was killed January 2006 in a horse training accident. Jared Michaud was the first winner of the award.

Squad: Emilygrace Piel, Amber Munjar and Shari Johnson celebrate the end of the semester during the Spring 2016 award luncheon.

Eleanore “Ellie” W. Field “In Focus” Memorial Scholarship was created for students majoring in mass media, multimedia or equine science. Field, a longtime Wyoming newswomen, was the writer/editor of publications at LCCC. In addition, she loved photography and participated in the local Ghost Riders horse group.

In 2014, endowment of the Wyoming Media Professionals Award for Leadership was completed. WMP was an affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women, so recipients of its award will be women who demonstrate leadership potential in the media. The first scholarship was awarded in 2018.

The department is currently working toward endowment of the Wingspan Cub Reporter scholarship.

In 2010, upon the retirement of LCCC’s Arts and Humanities Division dean, Dr. Howard Major, Wingspan established an award to recognize those who support one of the five freedoms in the First Amendment. The Howard Major First Amendment Guardian Award will be given when a person or group shows courage in its support of those freedoms. In 2011, trustee Dr. Kevin Kilty received the award, and in 2012 Wyoming Press Association executive director Jim Angell was honored. WPA attorney Bruce Moats was named in 2013, and retiring A&H dean Kathleen Urban was honored in 2014.


In 1978, the LCCC journalism department was named the outstanding journalism department among two- and four-year colleges and universities in a 15-state area by the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Press Association (now “Media” instead of “Press”)

Since 1986, the Wingspan staff has received more awards than any other two-year college in the RMCPA region. For 1999 and 2000, Wingspan captured the top award, “Best in Newspapers” in the RMCMA regional competition. In 1980, a Wingspan editor was named RMCPA’s journalist of the year after participating in live competition. The following year another Wingspan editor won the award. In 1987, a Wingspan editor, competing among two- and four-year schools, received the RMCPA’s Director’s Award for overall outstanding talent and leadership. In 1992, a Wingspan and High Plains Register editor was the top single award winner in the RMCPA.

For 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2011 and 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017 Wingspan was named first place winner in the American Scholastic Press Association competition, and first place with special merit for 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013.

However, the most prestigious award came in October of 1993 when the publication received the Pacemaker award from the Associated Collegiate Press. These are considered the Pulitzer Prize of the student press. The award goes to the Top Five student newspapers in the nation. In 1994, Wingspan was again named in the Top 10 nationally. In 2009 and 2011, Wingspan became a Pacemaker finalist again. In 2000, Wingspan Online received a Pacemaker, competing with major universities nationwide. In 2001, both the print and online versions of Wingspan were nominated for an ACP Pacemaker, quite a remarkable feat.

In February 2009, Wingspan won third place Best in Show at ACP’s National College Journalism conference, and in October the publication won third place in the Best of Show of the ACP’s national conference. In February 2010 Wingspan won third place Best of Show; in February 2011 first place; eighth place in February 2012 in the ACP National College Journalism Conference, and eight place Best of Show in October 2012. The October 2013 issue took first place Best of Show.

A story written by Sports Editor Cody Tucker was named one of six sports stories of the year by ACP in 2010. The other finalists were from major Division I NCAA universities. The following year, Tucker won honorable mention for sports story of the year; the staff won honorable mention for editorial of the year; Jeffrey Pallak placed fourth in the nation for illustration of the year.

Wingspan was awarded first place by the American Scholastic Press Association in the 2016 Scholastic Newspaper Awards among community colleges with an enrollment of 2,501 or greater for the 2015 calendar year. Additionally, the program was recognized for outstanding photography, the only school in the competition recognized in this category. The award was given for the May 4, 2015, issue of Wingspan.

In the fall of 2004, Wingspan entered the overall newspaper contest sponsored by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association for the first time. Competing with four-year institutions, Wingspan won a Silver Crown award, one of 15 newspapers in the country and one of two community colleges. At the March 2005 ceremony in New York City, individual writing awards were also captured in the column writing and personality feature writing categories. In 2006, an ad received an award. The national Silver Crown Award was repeated in 2007. Also, Greg Pratz, Laura Nelson and Emma McClure received individual awards.

In 2008, six individual awards were won by Lauren Daly, Chris Arneson, Bree Anderson, Montika Bunner, Greg Pratz and Jared Michaud as well as a staff award for best designed tabloid.

In 2009, 12 individual awards, including a staff award for best designed tabloid, were won by Chris Arneson, Adam McCoy Kirk Rea, Rob Ketcham, Dominic Benintende and Andrew Dyl.

Wingspan Online captured a 2011 Gold Circle award for its live breaking news coverage of the wrongful termination hearing of a vice president of student services. Staffers covered the two-day hearing by streaming live video, posting on Facebook and Twitter, writing running news stories on the testimony and preparing photographic slide shows.

In 2012, five Gold Circles awards were won. WIll Hebert won first place, op-ed page design; second place, photography portfolio of work. Dominic Benintende and Jeff Pallack won a certificate of merit for feature page design in a tabloid format. In the digital media contest, Shawn Havel won a certificate of merit in the single sports photography category.

In 2013 Kasey M. Orr took second place in video news package.

Wingspan has competed against four-year schools in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence contest. For the 2002 contest year, co-editor Kevin Wingert placed first regionally and second nationally in editorial writing, and Wingspan was named best nondaily newspaper in its region.

For the 2004 contest year, Wingspan again won first place in its region for best non-daily newspaper. In addition, three LCCC students placed in individual categories competing regionally against four-year institutions. Michelle Stoll won first place in editorial writing; Ezekiel won second place in the general news reporting category; and Jenée D. White won honorable mention in the in-depth reporting category.

For the 2005 contest year, Wingspan was named third place regionally, and Jared Michaud took second and third places in photo illustration

For 2006, Wingspan won second in the region with Greg Pratz, Jared Michaud and Serinda Patras winning individual awards.

For 2008, Wingspan took second place in Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper. In addition, Andrew Dyl, Houston Woodhouse and Kellie Anderson took first place in the photo illustration category, and Chris Arneson won third place for editorial writing.

In 2009, seven first-place awards were awarded : two to the staff and the others to Houston Woodhouse, Stephanie Maas, Dominic Benentende, Vernon Hedrick and Travis Sherman. All placed in national competition.

In 2010, Wingspan won first place in SPJ’s Region IX as “best all-around nondaily student newspaper” as well as eight other awards. Seneca (Flowers) Riggins took first place, photo illustration, and second place, general column writing. Cody Tucker captured first place, sports writing, and second place, feature photography. Daniel Stelle won first place, sports photography; Dominic Benintende, first place, feature photography; Riggins and Benintende, second place, editorial writing; Jeffrey Pallak, second place, photo illustration.

In 2011, Wingspan won four national Mark of Excellence awards from SPJ. The staff one second place in best all-around nondaily student newspaper; Cody Tucker won first place in sports writing; Seneca (Flowers ) Riggins won first place in photo illustration; Dominic Benintende won second place in feature photography; and Will Hebert won first in photo illustration.

In 2012, Wingspan won 20 awards regionally, including best all-around non-daily newspaper, and the following national awards: Cody Tucker, first, feature writing, sports column writing and sports writing; Will Hebert, first, breaking news photography and column writing; Hebert, Courtney Tray, Jeffrey Pallak and Amy Walker, first, online news reporting; and Hebert, Pallak, Susann Robbins and Katie Blaser, first, online in-depth reporting.

In 2012, Wingspan won first place regionally for “best all-around non-daily student newspaper” in the small college category. In addition, Wingspan captured 12 other awards, more than any other small college, including six other first places. In national competition, Wingspan took second place, and Allie Hurley was named national winner in breaking news photography.

In 2013, Wingspan won 11 awards in the region including first place best all-around non-daily student newspaper. Orr took first in general news reporting and Brooke A. Rogers second; Robbins, first place, editorial writing; Dan Herring, second place, sports writing; Amanda Neely first and Herring second in general column writing; Jennifer Stogsdill first feature photography; Rogers first general news photography; Ike Fredregill, Rogers, Orr and Robbins, second best use of multimedia. Herring and Orr took first in photo illustration, which went on to win second place nationally.

In 2015, Wingspan won nine awards, including three winners that went on to the national SPJ competition. Ike Fredregill won in the feature photography and feature writing categories while also coming in as a finalist for a second feature story. Taylor Snell took top honors in photo illustration for the cover design of the March 9, 2015, issue. Cody Fox was a finalist in sports photography, and Tamara Rodgers was a finalist in feature photography. Former co-editor Erica Klimt was a finalist in in-depth reporting for her analysis of the LCCC climate survey.” And the Wingspan staff was a finalist for editorial writing.

In 2009, for the first time, Wingspan won awards in the Student Society of News Design competition. Houston Woodhouse captured first place in inside new page design and first place for a tabloid cover design and Andrew Dyl took second place for a tabloid cover design. Woodhouse repeated the award in 2010. In 2012, Jeff Pallak took honorable mention for an online information graphic.

In 2011, for the first time, Wingspan won two third-place awards competing with four-year schools in the Best of the West competition: the staff for general reporting and Cody Tucker for sports reporting.

For the first time in the history of the American Copy Editors Society’s annual headline writing contest, a community college student won in the 2012 student publications’ division. Matt Rooney took third place. The next year the entire staff took third place. In 2015, the staff took second place overall, the highest it has ever placed in the contest. The staff would go on to place third nationally in 2016.

Jillian Melchior received the Roy W. Howard National Collegiate Reporting Award in 2006, the highest award an individual Wingspanner has ever won. The only community college student of the nine awarded, Melchior won an all-expense paid trip to Korea and Japan.

Students who serve on Wingspan become part of a long and winning journalism tradition. Employers value the fact that they have worked on this publication, for the names of former editors read like a who’s who of media professionals.

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