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.