Cowichan Valley Open Learning Collective ‘ambassador’ named Student of the Month

Ryan Linehan earns award for demonstrating natural leadership

Flanked by CVOLC staff members Kevin van der Linden, Nate Boersen, Lisa Kellar and Neil Ellingson, Ryan Linehan receives his Student of the Month award from Rotary representatives Gregg Perry and Kim Barnard. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Ryan Linehan admits he had a “tough time” at his previous school.

Linehan was attending a traditional public school in the Cowichan Valley, and things weren’t going well. With his father deployed to Egypt with the military for a year, it just got harder.

“I kinda crashed and dropped out,” he recalled.

When his dad came back, he suggested that Linehan try the Cowichan Valley Open Learning Co-Op a try. He started going for one day a week, then two, and eventually full-time.

“It dug me out of this hole I was in,” Linehan said.

Two years later, he is a few months from graduating, and was selected by school staff for the Rotary Club of Duncan’s Student of the Month Award for January.

“He’s an outstanding representative of our school,” said counsellor Lisa Kellar, who nominated Linehan for the award. “Calling him our ‘ambassador’ is perfect.”

Linehan is CVOLC’s representative on the District Student Advisory Council, and, according to Kellar, tends to take a leadership role there as well. He is also CVOLC’s “tech man,” she said, and helps organize several school activities, including Pink Shirt Day and grad festivities. Before he graduates, he also wants to create a mascot and logo for the school. It’s all part of helping students feel at home there.

“He’s very good at helping new students settle into the program,” Kellar added.

According to teacher Neil Ellingson, Linehan is an “exemplary student.”

“The last two years, everything he does, he does at the top level,” Ellingson said.

Linehan is finishing up the prerequisites now for the environmental technology program at Camosun College, and plans to eventually transfer to UVic to complete a degree.

Leadership comes naturally to Linehan, who has three younger brothers and spends a lot of time helping out on the family farm in Cobble Hill. As much as he will be missed by CVOLC when he graduates, he will miss the school as well.

“I’ve been to a lot of schools, and this has definitely been my favourite,” he said. “The teachers are all involved and dedicated to their jobs. It’s a lot more personal. The students and teachers all share a connection with each other. Other schools are more distant; here, it’s more of a family.

“That’s why I want to give back. This school has helped me so much. More than I can give back.”

Cowichan Valley Citizen

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