There is a form that staff members at Covenant have requested that others fill out when they would like to reserve any facilities, ask for audio/visual assistance, and a myriad of other things. Like with many forms, this was started with the best intentions but rarely gets completed and is often replaced by a quick ask via email. That is why, earlier this year, the marketing office was surprised not only to receive a thorough and polite request via the form but was even more shocked to see that it was from a student! Our surprise quickly subsided when we saw the name of the requesting student: Ryland Dickman.
Ryland has been a Covenant student since Kindergarten, making him a member of the Swingset Club (the name we give the group of alumni who go through their whole school career at Covenant). He has excelled academically during his time here, even skipping a grade level. This feat is unusual given the rigor of the curriculum and programming but is just another example of Ryland’s academic prowess. His classmates have become used to hearing about his achievements in the classroom and often anticipate him winning awards at the end of the year.
Given how gifted Ryland is academically, it would feel natural to just label him as “smart” or “clever”. And he is. He is a true polyglot and has an affinity for language. But these modifiers do not get at the heart of what makes him a truly special student: his work ethic, persistence, and character.
Self-possessed and confident, Ryland said that he knew he wanted to pursue a slightly less traditional path of studying law at a European university as early as his middle school years. He always had a natural love of learning and was tremendously supported by his parents LaTricia and Jim. His teachers cultivated this innate curiosity in all areas, including theatre, and Ryland says that they were/are his favorite part of his time at Covenant.
Ryland knew he would have to have college-level credits when he graduated if he were to chase his dream since high school credits are not equivalent in many European countries. In addition to the Advanced Placement classes he was able to take at Covenant, Ryland spent the summer of 2019 studying by himself and took 14 additional college-level exams through The College Board. That same year he enrolled in classes online with Northern Virginia Community College and began his Associate’s Degree. All while simultaneously pursuing his degree at Covenant and being involved in extracurricular activities.
He graduated quickly with his Associate’s and was not that far away from his Bachelor’s so, according to Ryland, “I figured I’d just get that.” He enrolled in Liberty online in January 2020 and began his Bachelor of Science degree in Business. This May, Ryland graduated from both The Covenant School (a year ahead of schedule) and Liberty within two weeks of each other.
When asked what advice he had for other students, he said, “Be persistent!” It can be discouraging if things do not seem to lay out easily into a path in front of you but where there is a will, there will be a way. This is what really seems to define Ryland - he is persistent and simultaneously polite, diligent, and thorough. It is hard not to be impressed by this young man in his pursuit of his goals.
Colin Anderson, Head of Upper School has this to say about Ryland: "We are certainly proud of Ryland for his remarkable academic accomplishments, but even more so for his godly character and commitment to Christ shown day after day in word and deed to others in our school community. We will miss his leadership on the Judicial Council, his enthusiastic participation in the school musicals, and his gentlemanly conduct in every interaction. I am excited to see how God will use his gifts and talents in the future to further His kingdom."
As far as next steps? “Paperwork for school, and I start my summer job [at a local grocery store],” he says. He is in process of filling out admissions materials for his application this summer to a small and competitive Italian and German law program hosted jointly by the University of Florence and University of Cologne. The Commission for Admission, if they are as smart as we think they are, will definitely see the value in adding such a special Covenant School graduate to their ranks.
Located in Charlottesville, VA, The Covenant School is a non-denominational, private, Christian day school for Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, visual and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.