Last year, during the dead of winter, Chesapeake High School SGA president Jake Ritterpusch and his classmates decided to jump in the freezing Chesapeake Bay.
They are doing it again this year.
Approximately 35 Chesapeake High School students will be participating in the Polar Bear Plunge’s Cool Schools Challenge Frigid Friday Event tomorrow in an effort to raise money and awareness for the Maryland Special Olympics.
“It is a fun way to go and help others,” said Ritterpusch. “There is music and games, so you aren’t doing work, but you are still making a difference, which is why a lot of kids participate.”
Chesapeake physical education teacher Mike Gimon, who works in the special education department, said this is the school's second year participating and that he hopes it continue for many years to come.
The Polar Bear Plunge has had such an increase in student involvement that schools now get their own day to plunge.
“Special Olympics of Maryland has the Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday,” Gimon said. “But they had so many schools participating in The Plunge, they moved it so there is a Plunge the day before the actual Plunge and it is called Frigid Friday. There are four Maryland schools participating this year, so if you are going to plunge with a school, that is the day they want you to go.”
This is the third year in which the Polar Bear Plunge has hosted a Frigid Friday, which provides a safe environment for youth plungers, according to their website.
Students who participate in Frigid Friday for Chesapeake will miss a day of school tomorrow for the Field Trip, and will also gain credit towards their service learning requirement. There is a minimum $50 donation for each student who participates, which goes towards the Special Olympics.
“They have to raise the money themselves; that is part of the service learning,” Gimon said. “They have to go out and raise the $50-whether they went out and raked a couple of yards and raised it or they went door to door asking for sponsors, they raised the money.”
Ritterpusch, who plunged with Chesapeake last year, said the experience was a lot of fun.
“There were just people everywhere and everyone was really excited,” he said. “There were kids from the special education department there to cheer us on and we all ran in at the same time and ran back out and it was really exciting.”
Chesapeake High School is set to plunge at noon tomorrow at Sandy Point State Park in Anne Arundel County.