Traditional or Experiential?
Why not both? At EMH we approach education holistically. We believe you should be preparing for more than just a career but for God’s calling on your life. Education should be not only academic, but also spiritual, physical, and communal. While we take our academics seriously—and our high student test scores show this—we also believe that students learn best when being challenged in all areas of life.
Research shows that active learning increases retention. Students learn more when they are engaged in hands-on, real-life activities that require them to think critically and explore connections between what they are learning and real-world experience. We believe that education should not be separated into isolated categories but should involve the whole person: mind, body and soul.
Our program offers a unique blend of traditional classroom work and experiential learning. Students enroll in traditional high school courses and work through those courses both in the classroom and on the field. We believe that students’ learning is enhanced and deepened by their experiences in the outdoors. Wilderness courses and academics are connected in purposeful, deliberate ways, creating learning opportunities that the traditional classroom alone cannot provide. Furthermore, we believe that our emphasis on discipleship and spiritual community helps students to grow and mature as children of God and servants of His Kingdom, building leaders prepared to take Christ’s message to the world. Go here for more information on specific curriculum and courses offered.
Courses taught at EMH represent the content needed for all or most juniors in high school. Course material will be adequately covered for students preparing to take standard tests for college admission. Course credits will be transferred and assessed in the same way as students’ other courses. Click here to learn more about transferring credits.
Darren Patterson Christian Academy (DPCA) is the educational home and academic center for students at Ekklesia Mountain High. DPCA offers a rigorous, college preparatory curriculum for grades 9-12, and takes the position that with available technology, almost no course of study is out of reach. EMH students will have access to coursework for their junior year in at least three formats: traditional classroom, structured online, and Directed Independent Study (DIS).
HIGH SCHOOL FACULTY
Administrator and Philosophy
If you have spent any time at DPCA, you have seen Mr. R, whether it is greeting children as they arrive at school, counseling students headed to college, teaching a Philosophy class, or, of course, serving as school administrator.
Mr. Ritschard received his M.S. degree from Pensacola Christian College. He has served at various Christian schools and colleges and came to DPCA in 2003. “I love the discipling mission of the school,” he says, “and the chance to help students see and understand that life with God through Jesus Christ is absolutely the best ‘story’ of all.” Mr. R is passionate about Christian education and will gladly talk with you anytime about the mission of the school.
If you are new to DPCA, you should know that Noah is not an only child! Mr. and Mrs. Ritschard have four other children living all over the country: one married (and working), two in college, and one in the Marine Corp. On the rare occasion that Mr. R is not at school, he enjoys keeping up his house and yard, hiking, boating, and any activity with his family. His favorite foods include anything grilled, chocolate, nuts, and Lebanon Bologna (ask for it at your local City Market deli counter!).
Director, Wilderness Instructor, and Bible
A graduate of DPCA, this is Mr. Little's 12th year as a teacher of the school. He is the director of the boarding program and is the lead instructor for all of the wildernesses courses. He also teaches Bible for the entire high school. Finally, he operates as the chaplain and lead planner for the chapel and small group program. He will also occasionally be found coaching or driving the bus.
"My heart for students is for them to be transformed into the likeness of Christ, to really take on the new self that He promises. The wilderness plays a critical role in this process. When you study the Bible, you realize that God has spoken to so many of the key leaders, like Moses, David, Elijah, and Jesus Himself in the wilderness setting. I love to be part of that process as God challenges and grows them into the people He has created them to be."
He is also an adjunct instructor for Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries based in Laramie, Wyoming.
Tom "Coach" Navaratte
Athletic Director, Science,
As with most of the DPCA faculty, Mr. Navarette, or “Coach” as he is more affectionately known, wears many hats, from running athletics to teaching science and Spanish. He received his B.A. in Industrial Arts Education and a coaching minor from New Mexico Highlands University. Coach began teaching at DPCA in 2006.
“I’ve been called to work here,” says Coach. “The kids are my favorite thing at DPCA. I enjoy teaching, and I appreciate the support from parents. I love being able to talk about God whenever I want.”
Coach’s favorite hobbies are—surprise!—coaching and watching sports. “I love sports, all sports! Oh, and my favorite foods are chocolate and coffee.”
History and Government
Mrs. T (as she is fondly known) has been part of the school for more than 30 years. Her main roles at the school involve the junior high program, but she teaches the high school history and government classes. She also runs the schools lunch and library program.
She loves history and is very knowledgeable when it comes to the subject. Many graduates of the school who have gone on to college have remarked, "My college professors have nothing on Mrs. T. I learned so much more in her classes(especially government) than many of my college history classes." Every other year she takes her junior high class to Washington D.C. area so students can experience the history she has been teaching in class.
She loves to be outside hiking, biking, and skiing. She has participated in many road biking events, such as Ride the Rockies.
Math, Science, and French
“I believe in education from a Christian worldview and that high school students are the most receptive people for discipleship and relationship. I love that we get to invest all day every day in the lives of youth.”
This belief has guided Mrs. Ritschard’s teaching at DPCA since 2005. Her relationships with students come not only through the classroom, but through her role as the Mission Café manager and barista. “Mrs. R” and her team of students are familiar faces in the morning, at athletic events, and more, getting to know the students and their families as they raise money to fund the school’s mission trips.
Mrs. R earned B. S. degrees in Marriage/Family Counseling and Bible from Ravencrest Bible School and Barclay College. She enjoys playing her French horn and training her dogs, who accompany her to school almost every day.
“I love my students and am so excited to be part of a team to help raise them to love their God, to love their neighbors, and to explore the potential of who they are in Christ.”
Math, English, Wilderness Instructor
Mr. Euler received his B.A. in English from Covenant College and has almost completed his Masters of Education from the University of Arizona. He and his wife, Carrie, moved to Buena Vista in August 2013. Besides teaching math and English and helping to coach boys’ basketball, Mr. Euler is excited to work with the Ekklesia Mountain High program.
“I strongly believe in both Christian education and experiential education,” he says. “DPCA incorporates both of these ideas into their regular school schedule in a way that I have not seen in any other school.”
As you might guess, Mr. Euler loves almost any outdoor activity . . . except whitewater kayaking, “because it’s terrifying.” He also enjoys basketball, reading, and playing with his dogs.
“I’m excited to be here at DPCA, and my wife and I are looking forward to being part of the community here. It has been a blessing to get to know the students, and I look forward to teaching them and learning from them throughout the school year."
ACADEMIC STATISTICS FOR DPCA GRADS
Graduation requirements: A minimum of 24 credits is required for graduation. 0.5 credit = 1 semester, 1 credit = 1 year. Graduation requirements include: 4 credits (4 years) Biblical studies; 4 credits (4 years) English and literature; 3 credits (3 years) history and government; 1 credit (1 year) philosophy; 3 credits (3 years) mathematics; 3 credits (3 years) sciences; 2 credits (2 years) foreign language; 1 credit (1 year) art, music, or drama electives; 1 credit (1 year) physical education or health electives; 0.5 credit Computer Applications; and 0.5 credit Study Skills. A senior portfolio is required to demonstrate proficiency. Computer and Study Skills content is integrated with other courses; competency is demonstrated in the portfolio.
Grading and Ranking: Darren Patterson Christian Academy assigns letter grades using a 4.0 grade scale. Letter grades result from percentage scores as follows:
A (4.0) = 93 – 100%; B (3.0) = 85 – 92%; C (2.0) = 75 – 84%; D (1.0)= 65 – 74%; F (0.0) = below 65%
Due to small class size, students are generally unranked. Rank may be calculated at the insistence of other academic and scholarship organizations. No classes are weighted.
Standardized Test Scores: DPCA uses the Stanford 10 Achievement Test to assist in measuring academic progress in grades 1-12. Over the past five years, the student body as a whole has averaged scores that fall in the top 30th percentile rank when compared to their appropriate grade levels nationwide.
DPCA also encourages juniors and seniors to take the SAT I and ACT college entrance exams. Recent statistics from the tests are as follows: (%(#) = percentage and number of eligible juniors and seniors who took the test.)
Education and training beyond high school:
41 students have graduated from the Academy since 1992
93% (38) have continued their education or training beyond high school
61% (25) have matriculated to four-year colleges and universities
15% (6) have matriculated to two-year junior colleges
17% (7) have chosen trade schools, ministry training, or other options for further training or education
The following list indicates institutions and training programs attended by DPCA graduates:
Abilene Christian University
Adams State College
Bethel College (Indiana)
Bowling Green State University
Blinn Junior College
Colorado Mountain College
Colorado Christian University
John Brown University
Lamar Junior College
New Life School of Worship
Oklahoma State University
Parsons School of Design:
Pikes Peak Community College
Red Rocks Community College
Taylor University Fort Wayne
Texas A&M University
Training for Life: The Way Christian
University of Hawaii
United States Navy
Western State College
Wyoming Technical Institute
Youth With a Mission – Discipleship Training School