February 10
SLOCA High School

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience"


Hosted by SLO Classical Academy, the Living the Life Retreat provides you with time to unplug and learn from valued voices in the field of Classical Education. What does it mean to truly live the life? Part of what we’ll discover is that setting time aside for the query is one of the steps to discovery. By taking the time to gather, connect, and learn together, we brighten our own outlooks. This brighter, broader perspective can then be shared with and have influence over our own children. Don’t miss it!

Tickets are $75/person.
Buy 2, get the 3rd free using coupon code LIVING


Doors open + refreshments served
Introduction: Our speakers and their stories
Session 1*
Session 2*
Lunch break + book signing
Session 3*

Closing reflections + raffle drawing

*All attendees will rotate through the following sessions during Sessions 1, 2, and 3*


Ark of the Heart: Learning to love what is worth loving

Jessica Hooten-Wilson

It’s not enough to talk ABOUT great books or ideas, but we must love the good things, seek for truth despite its cost, and demand beauty over ugliness. In my session, we will walk through examples of those real and fictional people who cultivated lives of truth, goodness, and beauty. We will look at how they stored these things in their heart through memory, recitation, art, conversation, and all the various disciplines and habits that make what we learn part of how we live.

Narrating and Reflecting the Sea through the Arts: How notes and color capture the magnificence of the sea

Professor Carol Reynolds

Writers evoke the sea with words. Artists use pigment and the strokes of a brush. But what of music? Can composers effectively paint the sea in sound? This workshop will demonstrate how the choice of pitch, rhythm, harmony, instrumental color, and momentum allows composers to depict the sea, both as an atmosphere and as a narrative force. With books like The Tempest in mind, we will explore stylistic devices that writers, composers, and painters use to bring the sea to life. Participants will emerge from the session more confident in their listening skills and be supplied with a checklist of features common to descriptive works across
the arts.

Grammar as the First Art: Reading for understanding and reading for life

Phillip J. Donnelly

The art of grammar is central to Classical education, but what exactly is grammar and why is it so important? I will explain how learning to read involves not simply decoding words but helps students to understand their own lives and the world around them. Learning to read for mere information ensures only that students can read well enough to be the victim of other people’s propaganda —in order to flourish as human beings, students need to learn how to read for understanding. They can begin an apprenticeship in such reading through what I call a “grammar of causes.” One of the most helpful texts for introducing this practice is A.A. Milne’s book, The House at Pooh Corner.


Jessica Hooten-Wilson

Author + Professor + Chair of
Great Books

Jessica Hooten Wilson is the Fletcher Jones Endowed Chair of Great Books at Pepperdine University and formerly Louise Cowan Scholar in Residence at the University of Dallas. She is the award winning author of several books, most recently Reading for the Love of God. Her book Giving the Devil his Due: Flannery O’Connor and The Brothers Karamazov received a 2018 Christianity Today book of the year in arts and culture award and The Scandal of Holiness received a 2022 Award of Merit. In 2019 she received the Hiett Prize for Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture and is the recipient of several other prestigious awards. She is a Senior Fellow at The Trinity Forum. Jessica is most passionate about getting students to fall in love with words and stories. She enjoys spending her time playing with children (she has four), reading books, and trying new drinks or food with her husband. Things that bring a smile to Jessica’s face include 1990s nostalgia, puzzles, trivia, and people dancing.

Professor Carol Reynolds

Professor of Music
History + Author

As a Teacher, curriculum designer, author, and speaker Professor Carol (her call sign in the classical world) currently works with several institutes, including teaching her online curricula and courses, high school courses for Memoria Academy, as well as for the Masters Program in Classical Education through Memoria College. She also works as a Smithsonian Expert Study Leader for Smithsonian Journeys. Carol retired after 21 years as an Associate Professor of Music History, SMU, Dallas. Carol is most passionate about the connection with students: cultivating ways to encourage and inspire students; finding ways to help open paths for them, to mentor, and to pass on the cultural heritage that was so richly given to me by teachers and mentors. When not working or traveling Carol is most often found reading, writing, and raising two grandchildren who are deeply involved in ballet and Tae Kwondo. A lover of good challenges, Carol also derives cheer from learning, speaking languages, and exploring cultures through language. Laughter comes from being with students and friends, plus anything involving the grandchildren.

Phillip J. Donnelly

Professor of Literature for
the Great Texts + Author

Phillip Donnelly, an Associate Professor of Literature in the Honors College at Baylor, teaches in both the Great Texts Program and the English Department. Before coming to Baylor, he taught at the University of Ottawa and at Texas Tech University. He currently serves as the Director for the Great Texts Program. His research interests focus on the historical intersections between philosophy, theology, and imaginative literature, with particular attention to Renaissance literature and the reception of Classical educational traditions. The topics of his published work range from St. Augustine and post-modern critical theory to the Renaissance poetry of George Herbert and John Milton. His goal is to instill a desire for wisdom and to apprentice students in the art of writing as a means of pursuing such understanding of both practical judgment and first principles. Helping students grow in understanding is Phil’s passion. When not working Phil can be found playing his guitar. Coincidentally, Phil’s favorite text for introducing students to good reading is Winnie the Pooh and when asked what brings him cheer, he answered, “Honey!”

Note on Parking: There are a number of parking options near SLOCA High School, including metered, unmetered, and parking garages.