Ronaldo de la Cruz Gomez is the Park Rapids Area High School student of the month for March.

Ronaldo is the son of Domingo de la Cruz Gutierrez and Sabina Gomez Ajqui.

Ronaldo grew up playing soccer in his native country, Principal Jeff Johnson told the school board on Monday, March 15. But when he moved here, there was no soccer team, so he decided to go out for cross-country during his junior year.

“After that, he just fell in love with running, so he started running every day,” said Johnson. “His senior year was the best year in cross-country, and in his senior year he also helped the football team as a kicker. This year he is also going to run track and field.”

According to Johnson, Ronaldo said high school has been a challenge for him because he speaks three languages: K’iche’, Spanish and still learning English. After high school, he plans to attend Minnesota State University Moorhead to study physical education and become a running coach or soccer coach. He plans to run in college, depending on how his track season goes, and either to play soccer in college or join a soccer club.

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Business teacher Angie Kuehn wrote, “Congratulations, Ronaldo! You are very deserving of this award! You are such a hardworking, kind, and thoughtful young man. You always strive to do your best and use your resources well to help you achieve your goals both in the classroom and with your running. I have so enjoyed having you as a student and look forward to seeing what your future brings.”

English teacher Kerry Johnson wrote, “When I think of Ronaldo, I think of a very hard worker. He was in my English class, and he really pushed himself. I really respect his work ethic. Another place I have seen his work ethic shine is in his running. I like to run myself and whenever I am out, there he is. I have seen him run in all types of weather conditions, and yet he does not complain. He puts in the miles. I have no doubt that Ronaldo can achieve anything he puts his mind to. Congrats!”

“Thank you,” said de la Cruz. “I’m so happy to be the student of the month. When I moved here to this country, I never (thought) that I’m going to be the student of the month.”

Science teacher Sara Thorson wrote, “Ronaldo is very much deserving of Student of the Month. He sets an amazing example for the rest of the student body, in and outside of the classroom. Ronaldo is driven by goals and an ambition to achieve those goals. His work ethic is incredible, as a student athlete and as a community member. I cannot wait to see where his next goal leads him. Wherever it is, I will be rooting for him!”

Football coach Jeremy Nordick told the school board, “I’m very, very proud to have had the opportunity to coach Ronaldo.”

Nordick praised de la Cruz’s work ethic and natural athletic ability, adding, “It was tough on him, because during football season it was so cold. So, he would run during our football practice, and then we would call him in when it was time to kick. He’d sprint in, kick a bunch of field goals, and then he’d try to go back and warm up again until it was time to kick again. Thank you, Ronaldo. Congratulations!”