By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
For some, it takes a lifetime to make an impact. For others, it happens instantly.
For Angel and Cristal Rodriguez, their short stay in Liberal left a lasting impression with the students and faculty at Liberal High School.
“They didn’t have any problem making friends,” LHS Principal Keith Adams said Friday night as the two said their goodbyes to their friends and teachers.
Cristal came to Liberal in the second semester last year, and Angel made Liberal his home as a senior.
After they tragically lost their parents, the two were heading back to live with relatives in El Paso.
But the two were welcomed into the LHS student body and made connections.
Angel showed up at home football games dressed as the Liberal Redskin, and he had the natural appearance to match the logo.
“He just did that on his own,” LHS teacher Chris Perkins said.
His personality came through, not only looking the part but pumping up the crowd and portraying a positive image for the Redskins.
With a smile and his arms pumping in the air, he encouraged the Redskins and celebrated the team’s successes.
Few expected Angel and Cristal to come to the final basketball game Friday before they left town.
But Angel donned his Redskin costume one last time and entered the gym to a roaring crowd. He headed to the student section and raised his hands to the air, and the students followed his lead, cheering even louder as Angel led the charge of support for the Redskins.
After Liberal defeated Maize South, Redskin players, students and teachers came up to Angel and Cristal, gave them hugs and wished them well.
Earlier in the day, the students and teachers had collected about $2,000 to help with their expenses.
Friends signed Cristal’s shirt, and the student body started to deal with not only the tragedy that had struck the Rodriguez family, but the void that would now be left from the two students, who spent a relatively short time among them, but became friends to so many.
“That is one great kid,” Perkins said.