Principal jumps into lake for students

Wednesday at 9 a.m., the Cleveland Elementary principal Mike Smolnik did a Polar Bear Plunge into Oneida Lake.

taking the plunge
taking the plunge

This was part of a challenge to raise items for the North Shore food pantry that is run out of the Cleveland Elementary School.

The “food fight” includes the entire Central Square school district.

As the challenge was drawing to an end and Cleveland was behind, Smolnik brainstormed and added onto the challenge (to Cleveland specifically) that should Cleveland kids/staff collect more than 1,000 items, he would jump into the lake.

We certainly made sure to win that bet and in good ole Cleveland fashion we gathered more than 3,400 non-perishable items.

Because of the amount of items, several staff members/teachers joined him for the swim.

cheering section
cheering section

Cleveland Elementary has held the award for most non-perishable items donated since the challenge started nearly ten years ago.

Smolnik was determined to keep the winning streak going.

He was unable to do the plunge which was originally planned for in December due to a storm that came in and froze the lake.

Even though the ice has thawed, the water was still a chilly 38 degrees in North Bay behind Vellas Market.

The students were bussed in before school began to witness the event and were joined by several parents, grandparents, Cleveland community members.

As the group chanted “Cleveland, Cleveland,” the staff dove into the water.

Everyone kept calling Smolnik crazy, but his response was simply, “I’m keeping my promise to the kids.”

photos courtesy of Michelle Uptegrove and Terri Ransom video clip