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The Student News Site of Urbana High School

THE HAWKEYE

The Student News Site of Urbana High School

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    UHS Students Willingly Jump Into the 38 Degree Bay For A Good Cause

    UHS+staff+and+students+gather+on+the+beach+to+take+a+picture+moments+before+running+into+the+water+%28Photo+by+Unknown%29
    UHS staff and students gather on the beach to take a picture moments before running into the water (Photo by Unknown)

    The breeze coming off the water, loud music playing from beneath the tents and the freezing cold bay were awaiting to welcome middle and high schoolers the morning of February 1st, 2024. 

    Starting in 1996, the Polar Bear Plunge has been an engaging way in which the Maryland Special Olympics raises money. Although the Plunge has been happening for almost 30 years, Urbana had never participated: until 2024.

    Staff member brings Urbana flag into the water as participants brace the freezing bay (Photo by Unknown)

    Starting early January, students at Urbana were informed of the Plunge and encouraged to sign up. There was a mandatory fee of $50 for students and staff who wanted to participate, but they were determined to raise much more than that. In less than 2 months, participants were able to raise $10,000 for not only Maryland Special Olympics, but also unified sports at UHS. Ms. Day, an administrator at UHS explains her motivation behind signing up, “ I love the fact that we get to raise money for a good cause and help our bocce ball team get some new equipment.” 

    On February 1st at around 9:00 a.m, the school buses were parked at the main entrance of UHS as students were bracing themselves for the plunge in a few short hours. The bus ride was around an hour away to Sandy Point State Park, where the plunge took place. Students had a couple hours to wander before their designated plunge time (12:00 p.m.) and engage with high school students from all across the state. Max Dabruzzo, a senior from Urbana, expresses that meeting new people was his favorite part of the event.  

    At 11:45 a.m., the students gathered on the beach, mentally preparing themselves to jump into the water which was said to be around 38 degrees. Emily Wlodarczyk (12) and Charley McGee (11), both voiced their favorite part of the day was the anticipation building moments before running into the water. All of the participants from Urbana gathered, took a quick group picture, and then pushed their way through the hundreds of students lining the water before finally being able to run in. (Picture: Around 70 UHS students and staff members pose for a group picture on the beach minutes before running into the freezing cold bay.) 

    Seamus McGee, a first time plunger, voiced his opinion about the plunge by saying, “It’s freezing cold water. What do you want to do in freezing cold water? Get out.”  The vast majority of plungers average 10 seconds in the water. After getting out of the water, students were making comments about not being able to feel their feet and legs. 

    Following the plunge, students crowded the three large, white tents lining the sides of the beach that were designated for changing. Urbana students were informed that they would have 15 minutes after getting out of the water to change and make their way back to the buses. “It was very busy and the aftermath of changing and making it back to the bus was chaotic,” said Charley Mcgee. This appeared to be a common complaint from students. 

    Finlay Souders, a senior at Urbana, was asked if she would participate again and she responded with, “If it was organized better, yes.” Many students answered very similarly to Souders in that the plunge was disorganized and was not well prepared for as many students that participated. 

    Annually, the Polar Bear Plunge raises 3 million dollars for the Maryland Special Olympics. Despite some disorganization flaws, this will surely be an event that Urbana continues to participate in for years to come as an effort to bring in money for the Special Olympics and Unified Sports.

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    About the Contributor
    Lily Woodham, Reporter
      Lily Woodham is a senior here at Urbana High School and she has had a great experience so far. Being involved in sports and academics has made a big impact on her experience and is what truly made her time here so great. The sports she is involved in are field hockey in the fall, and softball in the spring. Her favorite memory from senior year so far was during field hockey season when UHS beat BCC for the first time in program history. A core memory from high school for Lily is the Urbana softball team winning the state championship in 2023. The win was dedicated to Coach Jeremy Magers who passed a couple monthes before her junior softball season.    Outside of school, Lily is usually attending a sporting event here at Urbana or hanging out with friends.  She loves going to the hockey games every Friday to support some of those friends. Lily is very excited for the new year and can’t wait for summer, her favorite time of year. She loves the warm weather, no school, summer softball, hanging out with friends, and vacations but, what she is most excited for is the bright future ahead of her. In the fall, she is attending the University of Mary Washington where she is committed to play softball. She says “It’s always been a dream of mine to play the sport I love at the collegiate level.”

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