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Shepherd students help church through service-learning project

January 10, 2011

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Shepherd University students from Keith Alexander's Introduction to Historic Preservation class presented their service-learning projects to the members of St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Shepherdstown on Dec. 5.

The church members received a detailed map with the locations of gravestones, as well as a database with the gravestone inscriptions.

Congregation members listened as students Carrie Drewry, Fredric Martin and Matthew Caldwell described the process of gravestone cleaning, mapping and transcription.

Caldwell told the congregation that the mapping component appealed to his meticulous nature.

Martin noted that the project had given him a new appreciation for the work that goes into historic-preservation projects.

For Drewry, uncovering lost stories revealed in the grave inscriptions resembled detective work. She related how she had uncovered the story of Alice Sophia Lambright, who died in Shepherdstown in 1859, just three months short of her 16th birthday.

Cleaning the stone, which Drewry called "a buried treasure," revealed a beautiful carving of a woman kneeling at a graveside beneath a weeping willow tree.

Alexander said this is his sixth semester using service learning as part of his Historic Preservation class.

"Service learning has allowed me to give my students unforgettable hands-on experiences doing a historic-preservation project while helping the community," he said.

"The work that they did will benefit researchers well into the future. Every semester, the students outdo themselves, and I'm very proud of them."

In his next semester, Alexander will teach two courses employing service learning.

His Introduction to Historic Preservation class will partner with Christ Reformed Church on East German Street to document, clean and map graves. His course in oral history will partner with the Historic Shepherdstown Commission to document the experiences of residents who grew up in Shepherdstown.  

For more information, contact Alexander at 304-876-5668 or kalexand@shepherd.edu.

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