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Students connect through Steeple to Steeple program

Susan Lindaman and her sixth grade class are among the St. Paul’s school students who work with Wartburg students in the Steeple to Steeple program. Members of Dr. Penni Pier’s capstone class are helping the sixth graders make video documentaries. — Submitted Photo

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School shares a close connection with Wartburg and its students through a Steeple to Steeple program made available to a variety of departments on campus.

Located near the college, St. Paul’s provides students with opportunities to volunteer and engage themselves in Waverly.

Dr. Penni Pier, the journalism and communication department chair, involves the St. Paul’s and Wartburg relationship in several of her classes.

Pier said Steeple to Steeple is more of a relationship program and there are a variety of students across campus who participate.

“I do service learning in my upper level communications courses. For example, in my capstone class, students are required to do 16 hours of volunteer service. For these situations I try to match my students’ gifts with the needs at St. Paul’s,” Pier said.

Pier said in her persuasion class in the fall, her students create public relations materials for St. Paul’s, so it is part of their class to create materials that get graded and used by St. Paul’s.

MacKenzie Sellnau said she started working with St. Paul’s through one of Pier’s classes and has been able to use her skills with the Department of Journalism & Communication department, including video making and writing.

“She [Pier] kind of threw us in there and said we are going to help. She said they need help, whatever we can do,” Sellnau said.

“After working with them for a semester, I decided that I was going to do more video work with them this coming semester. I have been making some promotional videos and I have worked a lot with the kids. They are always grateful for anything so the amount of Wartburg students that go over and help is awesome.”

The relationship between St. Paul’s and Wartburg isn’t new.

“Their steeple provides our students with opportunities for service learning and for growth in the community and our steeple provides them with volunteers and people to help make their programs flourish,” Pier said.

Sellnau said one of the biggest things she does is working with the children at St. Paul’s.

“All of the preschoolers and sixth graders are so grateful to have college students go over there,” Sellnau said.

“They are a little rambunctious at times but I think them having mentors that are our age is really important.”

Pier said she has seen students who have been interested in digital ministry, doing communications work for non-profits, youth ministry and others get involved with the Steeple to Steeple program.

“It could be as formal as in-class service learning or it could be more of a volunteer through the Volunteer Action Center,” Pier said.

“We also have students who have done internships for a variety of reasons.”

Sellnau recommended the program because it is a fun learning experience.

“If you get to know the people who work there you automatically have connections,” Sellnau said.

“It is a place where you can practice your skills without jumping right into the big business atmosphere.”

The connection between St. Paul’s and Wartburg isn’t only a connection for service, but a way for students to learn more about the community.

“One of our pillars is service and another pillar is leadership and I think that there are a multitude of opportunities for those students to live out both of those pillars in service to others. I think that that is really important,” Pier said.

“I also think it is important for students here to understand that it is easy for us to get caught up in the Wartburg bubble. When our students come to Wartburg for four years they are part of the community that extends beyond the boundaries of campus.”

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