‘Penguins’ take a winter plunge to aid Ripton school

RIPTON — Twenty-one North Branch School students, two teachers, and one NBS alum plunged into a Ripton Pond in the first annual North Branch School Penguin Plunge on Saturday, Jan. 25.
As part of their winter ecology studies, students researched water temperatures of local ponds and learned about hypothermia and the body’s reaction to extreme temperatures. Students have been studying how animals survive the winter so the plunge provided a vivid learning experience.
On the day of the event, a large hole was made in the ice on a local pond and students warmed up in a small sauna or by a bonfire before going in. Every Penguin Plunger went all the way under water, and in doing so scored points for their respective Winter Olympics teams while raising money for the school.
Head teacher Tal Birdsey quoted from the poem “The Book of Hand Shadows” by Marianne Boruch: “A thing thrown up there is worlds bigger than how it starts. So I liked the ceiling better than the wall, looking up where stars roamed and the moon sometimes hovered, were the roof lost, were we lucky and forgot ourselves.”
Some other notable plunger quotes:
“Dark depths surrounding you, holding you captive for a seizing moment, then releasing you back into the blustery wind.” — Althea
“The Penguin Plunge was not as cold as I expected it to be; it was actually very refreshing!” — Hattie
“For me it was about plunging into the ‘impossible’ to get to a bigger world of ‘possible.’” — Rose
“I feel proud to be a part of history. I also enjoyed going swimming on my birthday.” — Keeley Kane
“It was just like jumping into a normal pond. Guess I didn’t need to watch that German guy jump into his frozen pool.” — Owen
“I could have died but I fought through the cold with my extreme manliness and my stored blubber fat.” — Nick

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