OKANOGAN Twenty-seven local students and staff members braved the cold — and potential hypothermia — Friday for the Okanogan School District’s annual Polar Plunge.
The plunge is a reward for the district’s holiday donation drive. The more donations students bring in, the more people go for a frozen swim at the Okanogan High School football field.
The four senior jumpers were a mixture of experienced plungers and those getting their feet wet for the first time.
“I’ve done it every year since I was a freshman, so I wanted to finish it out,” Gabe Greene, 17, said.
So does it get any easier with age and experience?
“No,” Greene said.
Newcomer Winter Joseph, 17, said she wasn’t nervous to take the plunge for the first time.
“I’m excited,” she said.
It was very important for us (to raise money). We wish we could have raised more, but we did pretty well.
- Okanogan High School senior Corbin Ranck
Joseph said the aspect of collecting donations was particularly important for the senior class.
“Most of the seniors waited until one of the later days and then just pulled everything together,” she said. “We didn’t think we’d have enough (donations) for the staff. It’s really cool that the teachers are involved here.”
The entire district’s final total equaled $3,366.85 worth of donations.
“It was important to raise money for people who need it,” Corbin Ranck, 18, said.
“It was very important for us. We wish we could have raised more, but we did pretty well.”
Students and staff members packed the stands to watch their peers take the Polar Plunge on Friday. Announcer Darin Radke chided Greene and Ranck for their outfits, complete suspenders and cutoff jean shorts.
“Hey Corbin, Daisy Duke called. She wants her shorts back,” Radke said.
Ranck — a first-time jumper — said he wasn’t nervous about the icy water.
“I just hate waiting to jump in. It’s really cold out here,” he said, as the temperature hovered around 30 degrees at the time of the Polar Plunge.
“It’s my senior year, and I figure why not,” he said.
Brooklyn Bauer, 17, was taking part in the event for the second year.
“The worst part is getting out,” she said.
Experience didn’t change her outlook much.
“It’s the same thrill every year,” she said.
Among the four staff members that took the Polar Plunge, teacher Jeff Cheeseman drew applause and laughter with his yellow superhero outfit and a flying belly-flop into the pool.
“Mr. Cheeseman was never a lifeguard,” Radke said. “You can’t dive in that shallow water.”
Omak students have also been collecting food and money for the holiday season. The district brought in more than 5,400 pounds of food, in addition to cash donations.
Rewards for the students included high school Principal David Kirk and support staff dressing up as characters from “Despicable Me,” several staff members sacrificing their hair, and a wrestling match between Kirk and senior standout Jacob Cutrell.
“We challenged them (the students) to go above and beyond and they clearly did,” Kirk told the Omak School Board on Tuesday.
The money and food collected by the school districts went to the Christmas basket program. Baskets were handed out Saturday at the Agriplex.