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Students from Lone Pine Classical School pose for a picture in Estes Park, Colorado in 2014. Jordyn Pair | Courtesy
Stu­dents from Lone Pine Clas­sical School pose for a picture in Estes Park, Col­orado in 2014. Jordyn Pair | Courtesy

Lone Pine Clas­sical School, an online Latin school program based in Col­orado, empha­sizes the classics and liberal arts.  The school offers varying levels of Latin, beginning with middle school stu­dents and extending to high school.

Many of the clas­si­cally-minded stu­dents from Lone Pine decide to attend Hillsdale College. Though there are no obvious ties between the two schools,  they share similar mindsets and a love for the classics.

“I think Hillsdale is always on the radar for my Michigan faction, which is usually large,” founder of Lone Pine Karen Karp­pinen said. “As they get to know their class­mates online and talk about where they’re applying, they probably tell them that Hillsdale is a great school which is also friendly to home-schoolers.”

Lone Pine began with  Karp­pinen, then a high school math and science teacher. After teaching two high schools in the metro Detroit area,  Karp­pinen moved to Col­orado from Michigan in 2003. In Col­orado, she main­tained friend­ships with Michigan home-schoolers who asked Karp­pinen if she would teach a Latin course online.

Using a cur­riculum called Orberg, Karp­pinen set up Lone Pine Clas­sical School as an online resource for stu­dents.

It began as a group of six stu­dents in 2003 and has grown since then, reaching 85 stu­dents at its peak. This year, Karp­pinen has about 45 stu­dents enrolled.  The average enrollment is roughly 60 stu­dents, beginning at Latin 100 and fin­ishing with AP Latin.

Hillsdale sophomore Ben­jamin Weeks, said his mother found the resource and shared it with other home-schooling friends.

Weeks described the learning expe­rience as a live classroom video of a white board. Stu­dents would com­mu­nicate with Karp­pinen via live chat feed on the screen. Karp­pinen con­trolled the micro­phones of each student.

In Week’s expe­rience, the class would meet two times a week for an hour and a half. In the upper levels, he said, stu­dents would give a pre­sen­tation on a selection of reading in Latin  that they have trans­lated and ana­lyzed.

Weeks took all the levels offered, and after four years of high school and two years of middle school, he grad­uated the program.

“It was great,” Weeks said. “ It really pre­pared me for Latin here. Hard, but worth­while at the end of the day.”

Sopho­mores Jordyn Pair and Nora Gibes also grad­uated from Lone Pine. Gibes said the classroom expe­rience was similar to many online classes she had taken, and she enjoyed it very much.

“Miss Karp­pinen approached Latin a bunch of dif­ferent ways at once,” Gibes said. “We would read and write, she com­bined all these aspects. This is why I love Latin so much, because Lone Pine was such a fun expe­rience.”

Gibes con­tinues to take Latin at Hillsdale.    

Although Lone Pine serves stu­dents from across the country, approx­i­mately 25 stu­dents fly to Col­orado each April for the annual Latin Con­vention, Karp­pinen said.

Gibes said at the con­ven­tions, she par­tic­i­pated in a clas­si­cally-themed com­pe­tition, making a Latin-based board game based on the theme of that year’s con­vention.

This Col­orado Junior Clas­sical League con­vention “is what really solid­ified the school,” Pair said. These stu­dents who had been talking together all year online and learning together finally got to spend time together and compete as a school.

Karp­pinen said many Hillsdale alumni coin­ci­den­tally are teaching at The Clas­sical Academy in Col­orado Springs, Col­orado, another school that par­tic­i­pates in the Latin Con­vention.

“We meet with their stu­dents at our state’s annual Latin Con­vention and at other JCL events,” Karp­pinen said.   

Hillsdale College’s liberal arts edu­cation focuses on the classics, and many stu­dents believe the con­nection lies in the shared loved for the classics, Weeks said.  

“There’s just not as many classics resources out there,” Weeks said. “That focus on Roman culture and classics con­tributes to a certain type of person looking for both of those and ending up at both.”

Gibes echoed Weeks’ sen­ti­ments.

“I think it’s a love for the liberal arts, a value for the classics,” Gibes said. “They’re attracted to a school like Hillsdale where the classics are empha­sized and appre­ciated.”

In addition to a sim­i­larity in aca­demic focus, Karp­pinen said she believes that the two schools have the same mindset about edu­cation.

“Lone Pine has a small, friendly, col­legial envi­ronment and my impression is that Hillsdale is similar,” Karp­pinen said.