Academics Expand Your Classroom
"That which ought and can best be taught inside the classroom should there be taught, and that which can best be learned through experience dealing directly with native materials and real life situations outside the school should there be learned.”
~Julian Smith
The way DPCA approaches academics is unique from any school I've ever seen; the teachers strive to make sure that the students are prepared for the real world, be that college or the workforce or kids running around the house. There's a reason and a purpose for every class they offer. Besides just the schoolwork, though, it's really the people that MAKE the school. DPCA is a school where the students form deep and meaningful bonds rather than surface friendships. It's more of a family than a bunch of classmates.”
- Josette, DPCA Graduate

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).

Traditional Courses

  • Perspectives in Bible & Philosophy

           (Required for all EMH students)

  • English & American Literature
  • English & British Literature
  • US History
  • American Government
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Environmental Science
  • Algebra I
  • Algebra II
  • Finite Mathematics
  • Trigonometry
  • French I,II,III,IV
  • Spanish I,II,III,IV
  • German I,II,III,IV

Structured Online Courses

Around 140 Dual-Credit (high school and college credit) courses in subjects such as Bible, Psychology, Sociology, History, English, Science, Mathematics, and more.


  • ACT and SAT prep courses
  • AP Art History
  • AP Biology
  • AP Calculus AB
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP Computer Science
  • AP English & Composition
  • AP English Literature
  • AP Macroeconomics
  • AP Microeconomics
  • AP US Government
  • AP US History
  • AP World History
  • Chinese I,II
  • Computing for College & Career
  • Economics
  • Flash Animation
  • Global Studies
  • Health
  • Latin I,II,III
  • Marine Science
  • Psychology

Directed Independent Study

DPCA features a unique program called Directed Independent Study, or DIS. DIS classes are carefully constructed learning experiences for students who wish to pursue course of study not found in either DPCA’s traditional or online programs. DIS courses make use of a variety of resources, often including community mentors, online elements, texts, etc. With the DIS program, there’s almost no course of study that a student at DPCA cannot pursue.


Examples of DPCA classes from past students include:


  • Arabic Language Studies
  • Japanese Language Studies
  • Photography
  • Art
  • Private music
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes
Romans 1:16

















    Erik Ritschard

    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!).
















    Tom "Coach" Navaratte

    Athletic Director, Science,

    and Spanish

    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.”
















    Pat Tritz

    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.


















    Jani Ritschard

    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.”

















    Jordan Euler

    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."

And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and Man
Luke 2:52



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

Cedarville University

Colorado Mountain College

Colorado Christian University

Dordt College

Hardin-Simmons University

John Brown University

Lamar Junior College

LeTourneau University

New Life School of Worship

Oklahoma State University

Parsons School of Design:

Pikes Peak Community College

Red Rocks Community College


Sterling College

Tabor College

Taylor University

Taylor University Fort Wayne

Texas A&M University

Training for Life: The Way Christian

Ministries, Scotland

University of Hawaii

United States Navy

Western State College

Wheaton College

Wyoming Technical Institute

Youth With a Mission – Discipleship Training School