UPPER DUBLIN — Ryan Goodman likes to root for the underdog.
As “one of the shortest” in the senior class, “I embody that narrative sometimes,” says Goodman, who stands “5 feet 4 inches and change on a good day,” but lists basketball — he plays intramural — as his favorite sport.
In all likelihood, it’s Goodman’s penchant to not just root for, but help those less fortunate, as well as bring people together, that led to his selection as the male winner of the Upper Dublin Medal for Outstanding Student.
“I was surprised and happy,” Goodman said. “I thought any one of us” — the three boys and four girls nominated — “would have a great shot.”
The medal is presented to a senior who displays outstanding leadership qualities in academics, athletics and school and community activities.
Amember of the National Honor Society credited with 19 AP Honors courses, Goodman has a 4.706 GPA and scored in the 98th percentile on the ACT.
On the varsity tennis team four years, and a captain this year, Goodman was a Suburban I American Conference Tennis Champion in 2017 and 2018 and part of the Boys Tennis Suburban I All League Varsity First Team Doubles in 2018.
Since his freshman year, the 17-year-old Maple Glen resident has used those skills as a Tennis Buddies volunteer teaching tennis to people with special needs in the community.
The participants range anywhere from 8 to 30, but “most are roughly my age and it’s easy to relate to them,” Goodman said. “It’s supposed to be community service and fun for the participants. I think I had more fun than they did; it’s good to see them go out and have fun with their peers — it’s not easy for them.”
In 2018, Goodman received the Widener University High School Leadership Award for standing up for what is right and finding ways to address a wrong. He also received the 2018 George Washington University Book Award for academic excellence, leadership and spirit and is a two-time recipient of the SHINE (Selflessness, Humility, Integrity, Nobility, Empathy) Award.
As secretary of the Class of 2019 for four years, Goodman said he and the other class officers help facilitate Spirit Week.
“There are a lot of opportunities there to stand up for others,” he said. “I saw it as an opportunity to bring together people from different groups all for one cause — all there to have fun as a class.”
Observing the walls that separate the groups disappear as the students worked together “was fun to see,” he said.
Goodman also recalled a time he was part of a group chat “created with a bunch of friends and I noticed one [friend] was not included and asked why. I got a little back talk about that not being a cool thing to do, but we ended up including him, and it was a fun thing.”
A student at Gratz Jewish Community High School since 2014, where he has taken post bar mitzvah classes, he listed his favorite class as Food for Thought, cooking meals for disadvantaged people.
Goodman is vice president of the Chess Club and the Jewish Student Union, represented the high school at the National Spanish Exam from 2015 to 2018 and is an active member of the Future Business Leaders of America.
“I kind of found my niche” in the FBLA; “I have fun doing it,” said Goodman, who has won several awards at the FBLA Regional and State Leadership conferences.
During summer, he is a counselor at Camp Nock-a-Mixon, where he was named Counselor of the Year in 2018.
“I love working with kids,” said Goodman, who plans to spend his community study as a student teacher in a third-grade class at Jarrettown Elementary, his alma mater.
“It will be a different perspective being a teacher.”
Goodman, who will attend the University of Maryland in the Scholars Program, studying business, said at this point “I have no idea what I want to do, and thought I might do something unrelated to my major.”
While looking forward to graduation, he said he “definitely will miss the people.”
“Upper Dublin is so special,” Goodman said. “The faculty want to help the students; they’re very supportive, they want the best for you. I feel we’re all in it together.”