DCW MVP soccer player finding big opportunities in small, specialized school

Bladensburg, Md. -- A group of students finding success in the classroom and on the soccer pitch have found a DCW MVP in someone who is still struggling to feel at home in the United States.

Francisco Ramos is the kind of student who International High School at Langley Park leaders say often goes overlooked at a big, public high school.

Ramos left his home country of El Salvado in 2014. He spent one year in a public middle school then found his way to IHS Langley Park last year as it opened for the first time.

The school, along with its sister school International High School at Largo, is meant to bring together students who are new to the country and struggle with English.

At Langley Park, there are about 200 students from about 20 different countries.

"It's been hard because I only speak English at school and never at home," said Ramos.

Ramos does well in school, excelling in math and science. His coach says he juggles soccer and school all while keeping a smile on his face and putting a good foot forward for everyone at the school to emulate.

"I just try and make my mother proud," said Ramos.

Ramos has also helped the boys soccer team find its footing against other Prince George's County schools. Last year the junior varsity team went
8-1-1. This year the school petitioned to get a JV and a varsity team even though it meant playing 11th and 12th graders when the IHS at Langley Park student population is only freshmen and sophomores.

Ramos said he's not focused on winning every game but playing as well as possible and giving every one on the team a chance to succeed.

"My goals are have a great team," said Ramos. "I just want us to get what we can get. If we can win a championship it's because we have a strong team."

School leaders are proud of the way the students have bonded over both the boys and girls soccer teams.

"These are leadership experiences that English For Speakers of Second Languages students don't traditionally have at large, overcrowded public high schools," said Daniel Sass, the assistant principal and varsity soccer coach. "Because he's at a campus so small Francisco is able to find and build his own network of friends and support systems and really thrive both inside and outside of the classroom and it's been really fun to watch him grow over the last 15 months."