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Iowa Presbyterian church offers ‘No Strings Attached’ education program

School-church partnership is music to the ears

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

Christine Kaplunas instructs “No Strings Attached” students. (Photo from Unity Presbyterian Church website)

WATERLOO, Iowa – When the Waterloo School District cut music programs a few years ago, members and leadership at Unity Presbyterian Church saw an opportunity to partner with Kittrell Elementary School to provide music education opportunities.

No Strings Attached is an after-school string education class for fourth- and fifth-graders that meets Wednesdays in Kittrell Elementary music room, art room and media center during the school year. Students learn violin, viola or cello, taught by Unity’s pastor, the Rev. Christine Kaplunas, and two to three assistant teachers.

The successful program is a collaboration of several organizations in the Cedar Valley area. The church, which came together in 2014 with the blending of Bethel Presbyterian Church and Immanuel Presbyterian Church, says its “dream is to live into our collective calling to nurture and sustain student leaders in the community through musical instruction.”

While music education is the goal, the church focuses on core messages of the Christian faith as well. Students receive reminders in every class that they are loved, they belong and they can do great things.

Instruments are provided free-of-charge by Waterloo Community Schools and funding for instrument repair — by House of Violins in Cedar Falls, Iowa — and assistant teachers is provided through a grant from the North Central Iowa Presbytery and a Presbyterian Mission Agency DREAM Grant.

“Thanks to this enormous support, and the dedicated volunteer hours from members of Unity Presbyterian Church, we are able to offer a full year of instruction for only $20 total, making music lessons affordable for many families,” the church announced.

In the spring of 2016, the program provided instruction 43 student musicians. Enrollment in 2017 has reached what the church calls “a more sustainable level” of 32 students.


For more information, please see the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier story on this partnership.

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