Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ekklesia Mountain High Photo Collections Posted

Photos from Ekklesia Mountain High Wilderness Courses can now be viewed on Flickr!  Click here to see the collections...

Ekklesia Mountain High is a boarding and day-student program for high school juniors and seniors at Darren Patterson Christian Academy, in which approximately forty days of wilderness experience and leadership training is integrated with rigorous academics in DPCA's Biblically-centered environment.  To learn more, please visit the school's website at, and the EMH program's website at

Dogs, Daniel, Moses, and Education

by Mrs. Jani Ritschard

So, I want a new puppy... No, not really - I’m actually still in the middle of training my newest  puppy (who happens to be three…). I’ve had five dogs in my adult life, though, and with each new one it is the same. I start out with hopes and goals and dreams of what that dog will become; then I do my best, doing some things right and making mistakes also. Eventually, I learn new things and begin to struggle with teaching the “old dog” new things. It is always, in dog training, easier to have started correctly with a goal in mind than it is to reteach something.  After awhile, I begin to dream about what it might have been like if I had started out that current dog with “what I know now.” At some point, I begin to want to start over with that new puppy, because after a point it is simply too complicated and difficult to deal with the accumulated mistakes in training present in the “old dog.”

I’m a dog trainer by hobby and an educator by profession, and I've begun to see a bit of a parallel. Educating children has some similarities to training dogs. Starting right from the beginning is always easier than re-teaching after bad habits have developed. The Bible tells the story of Daniel, who was educated from a Godly worldview from a young age. As a young teenager, he was deported to a foreign country - and he was already ready to make his impact on the world and the Kingdom! The Bible also tells of Moses, who in contrast was educated from what we would today call a “secular” perspective, exposed in his education to other gods. Well, Moses spent forty years learning in Egypt, then forty years re-learning in exile, and then forty more years learning in the desert. Perhaps because of Moses’ education (which was the best money and culture could afford), Moses wasn’t even activated into ministry and leadership until after he was forty. God was patient with Moses, but if I had been God I think I would have begun to think, “I want a new puppy!”  

I believe that Christian education is the “Daniel” way to educate children. The “Moses” way of educating is any other way that is not centered, surrounded, and originated from a Christian worldview. Without that Biblical perspective there is no transcendent Truth and therefore, no true learning without God. He is our Creator and therefore he is ultimately what we are learning about and why we are learning in every subject. It is God we seek to discover in everything we study. God is All and is in All, so what else can we be trying to discover?

Do we want our children to be to God as “old dogs,” or do we want them to be ready to serve Him at an early age? Do we want our children to spend their lives re-learning truth and unlearning lies after being educated outside of a Godly worldview? I believe as parents and teachers, God would want us to raise up Daniels, to have the best possible launch into purpose and usefulness in the world.

Mrs. Ritschard teaches mathematics, high school science, and French at DPCA.  Her teaching experience spans more than 20 years in both school and homeschool settings, and it is her desire to help students know the Lord and walk with Him.  Her perspectives on education and dedication are great assets to DPCA, where our passion and purpose is to provide education that blesses families and children by working with each student for  a "Daniel" perspective - ready and equipped to express God's truths and to stand for the gospel in their culture.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Have You Ever... Taken a Step of Faith?

Chapel services today were varied, interesting, and in the case of the secondary chapel - a bit chaotic!

A lively game of "Have You Ever"
Matt Thompson, Youth and family pastor at Clearview Community Church, presented the message to the elementary students this morning on faith - and the need sometimes to take a step of faith.  Using a brief Indiana Jones film clip to illustrate his point, Matt encouraged the students to develop their trust in the Lord; to be willing to act or love generously at times when they might not feel certain of the outcome.  Such "steps" or even "leaps" of faith have great value for God's kingdom and our growth!  Thank you, Matt, for exhorting us to deepen our walk of faith!

Chase tries to get to an empty seat
The secondary chapel service took on a different tone today as the newly formed Student Planning team exercised their leadership with their first chapel service.  Working on the theme, "Have You Ever," the student leaders began with a fun, chaotic game of "Have You Ever" in the gym, and then revealed the weightier idea behind the theme:  where are the "Have You Ever's" in our walk with Christ?  Have we ever taken that first step of faith?  Have we ever given up anything in response to Christ?.

Following the game, Kate and Tori read from Mark 8, where Jesus says, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?"
Tori and Kate share their ideas for secondary chapel

Kate then previewed chapels to come in which the students will continue to explore the theme of "Have You Ever?" in relationship to our walk with Christ. We're looking forward to our next few chapel services together!

Parents and friends of the Academy are always welcome at chapel services; for dates and times, please call the school office!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

JV Boys and Varsity Girls Sweep Elmwood

 In back-to-back victories last Friday evening, the DPCA Eagles came out on top in home hoops play against the Elmwood Eagles of Elmwood Baptist Church and School.  Though fans had to be careful how to cheer ("Go Eagles" was a very democratic cheer Friday night), all present enjoyed a couple of fast-paced games.

The girls varsity team took the floor to begin the evening.  Heather Burdges put the first points on the board for DPCA, and went on to lead the girls in scoring with 25 points total.  Alli Dages added solid support for the evening, adding 9 points to the scoreboard, including hitting three out of four attempts at the free-throw line.  Cailyn Willis with 6, and Katie Busch with 2 rounded out DPCA's offense, and brought the girls to a game winning 42 points over Elmwood's 30.

The boys' JV game got off to a seemingly good start with DPCA winning the tip, but the home team was unable to capitalize on the early possession and the scored stayed 0-0 for a few minutes of play as both teams struggled to break the others' defense. Both sets of Eagles began to find their shooting groove, however, and the score toggled back and forth.  Freshmen Nathan Van Deel and Noah Ritschard led the offensive effort for DPCA,with each putting 11 points on the board, but were closely followed by Jase Staudt with 10.  Garrett O'Neill contributed a solid five points, and Adam Velasquez added his bucket to bring the home team out on top, 39-32. 

Awards Chapels Recognize Character and Achievement

DPCA held our traditional January Awards Chapels on Friday, January 17th.  Focusing on character development and academic achievement during the fall semester, both the elementary and secondary chapel services centered on celebrating the Lord's gifts to and work in our students.

In the morning chapel service, elementary students each received a "Fruit of the Spirit" ribbon recognizing the fruit of some character trait that their teachers had particularly noticed in the student's life during the course of the fall 2013 semester.  Each student was also recognized for an academic strength.  Beginning with the Kindergarten class, each teacher in turn presented the awards to the children in their classes.

The afternoon secondary chapel followed a similar format, with Mrs. Tritz presenting awards to junior high students, followed by the high school teachers and the presentations to 9th - 12th graders.  Mrs. Tritz presented "Fruit of the Spirit" and academic recognition to each junior high student, and congratulated the  group on their growth together as a class over the first half of the year.

High school level awards, which followed the junior high, are determined and structured a bit differently.  All high school faculty meet together to select a "Fan the Flame" award for each high school student, which names a character trait that the teachers both want to recognize in the student and encourage the student to "fan into flame," following Paul's words to Timothy in II Timothy 1:6: "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you... for God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline."

High school students also may receive academic recognition in any class for which they earned an "A" for the first semester, or in any class in which they have made outstanding progress or contributions.

Though it is impossible to capture all that we see the Lord doing in our students' lives in just a few words or a few minutes, Awards Chapel is a cherished time each semester to rejoice in our students, and to recognize, like ancient Israel before us, that all we have is from God's hand. (1 Chronicles 29:14ff)  We were blessed to have a number of parents, grandparents, and friends in attendance: thank you to each friend and family member who was able to join us for the chapel services! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Christmas Stars Challenge Brings Generous Support!

Thanks to a very generous donor putting forth a matching funds challenge for the month of December, DPCA was able to launch the Christmas Stars Challenge, a matching funds campaign running from December 1-31, 2013.  A display in the school foyer has been capturing the progress of the campaign, with a new star posted for each $1000 increase -$500 from supporters matched by $500 from the lead donor.

Having completed the totals for giving to the campaign for the month, it is exciting to report that supporters gave a total of $21,500 during the month, matched by an additional $21,500, for a Christmas Stars Challenge total of $43,000!

"We are deeply grateful for the support and encouragement last month," says Erik Ritschard, school administrator. "DPCA would literally not be able to continue in ministry without the encouragement, prayers, and financial gifts we receive from our friends, and we are so thankful for the generous and sacrificial gifts made on our behalf and for the sake of our work here."

A major financial need for the Academy each year is funding for financial aid for families who need help with school tuition.  Funds from the 2013 Christmas Stars Challenge will be used for financial aid support for families enrolled this school year.

The campaign in December was named the Christmas Stars Challenge with Philippians 2:15-16 in mind: "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life..."  (Philippians 2:15-16 NIV) It's quite a calling and high aspiration to strive for!  Those verses also capture a piece of our vision for our students and our staff team at DPCA: that as we work together we can challenge one another to do everything joyfully, to embrace our calling to be the children of God regardless of the prevailing winds of thought in the generation around us.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all our friends who were part of the Christmas Stars Challenge and who gave so generously!