Polar Plunge

Bowling Green Middle School Principal David Koogler comes sputtering to the surface after being dunked in ice water for the’What would you do to promote reading’ challenge Friday. One student from each grade was given the opportunity to dunk him. Photo by Stan Schwartz

Brisk winds and icy water made for a chilly challenge

BOWLING GREEN—A brisk wind on Friday, combined with chilly temperatures made the “What would you do to promote reading” Polar Plunge an extremely challenging event for the principals of Bowling Green’s middle and high schools.

David Koogler and Scott Mullins bravely faced the challenge, standing outside in swim trunks and flip-flops eyeing the water and ice, which filled dunk tank parked on the circle drive in front of the middle school.

“Each year, we host a book fair in the Bowling Green Middle and High School library,” said Julie Colbert, the librarian for both schools. “We set a book fair sales goal and all profits go toward the purchase of new books for the library. If we reach our sales goal for adding books to the library, the principals agree to do a special activity to promote reading.”

It is the students who decide what kind of challenge the principals will face, Colbert noted. In previous years, the principals have had their hair dyed green and been taped to the school wall using duct tape. Montgomery County Fire Protection District provided the dunk tank for this year’s challenge. The tank can be rented for $50.

“This year,” Colbert said, “Mullins and Koogler agreed to do the polar plunge.”

Up first was Koogler. As the driveway in front of the middle school filled with students eagerly anticipating the spectacle of their principle immersed in freezing water, Koogler came striding up to the dunk tank ready face his icy challenge. He was about to be dunked, not once, not twice, but three times, as a student from each grade was given the chance to pull the lever and put Koogler deep into the tank’s freezing depths.

Koogler stood on the platform facing the middle school students, mildly taunting them to do their worst. As he sat on the tank’s platform in preparation for his first dunk, his feet went into the water and ice. That’s when he knew this was going to be a real challenge. But as long as it was for the students, Koogler said he was willing to face that challenge. That’s when he was blindfolded, so that he wouldn’t know when the lever would be tripped.

The middle school students began chanting his name as the first student walked up to the lever. With little fanfare, the lever was pushed and Koogler disappeared below the rim of the tank. A split second later, he came sputtering to the surface trying to fling the bone chilling water from his eyes.

A loud cheer burst from the students as Koogler prepared for his second immersion.

By his third dunking, it looked as though he had had enough. But the students began chanting: “One more time, one more time.”

Showing what a good sport he is, Koogler climbed back onto the platform. This time, Middle School secretary Ellen Meyer was given the opportunity to hit the lever, and she did so with great enthusiasm.

By that time, Koogler was so cold it was difficult for him to climb out of the tank. But he did, and still managed to smile.

The middle-schoolers made their way back inside. 

Next up was Mullins. He wasn’t out there for Koogler’s turn, so he made a brief foray to his office for some pointers on what to expect.

The high school students were a bit more cynical as they made their way to the circle drive, wanting to make sure the water in the dunk tank was indeed cold enough.

Colbert went through the crowd to select a student from each grade—ninth through 12th. Mullins smiled from his perch, as the first student approached the lever. He, too, was blindfolded, but he must have received some tips from Koogler, because he pinched his nose shut before the lever was pushed and he learned firsthand what it was like to be a human popsicle.

By his fourth dunking, Mullins was ready for the challenge to end.

Colbert said this was a nice diversion for the students coming to the start of their spring break. It was not until the Monday that the students and teachers learned the R-1 school system would be closing for three weeks because of the novel coronavirus. See more on that story in this issue.


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