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Discovery Middle School 'Cool School Plunge' top in state, raising $44,100

The event has garnered $153,000 in the last five years for Special Olympics Minnesota

Two girls in cold water
Maddie Heid, left, and Brooke Stender try to get out of a tank of cold water as quickly as possible at the annual Cool School Plunge outside Discovery Middle School Friday afternoon.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA – With 374 plungers and $44,100 raised, the Cool School Plunge at Discovery Middle School was deemed another major success by organizer Lukas Gotto.

“The event keeps us as the best single school plunge in the state and possibly the nation,” said Gotto, noting that this year’s event had MicDrop Entertainment serve as emcees. “You could certainly feel the energy from having a professional company do the event for us.”

Once again, he said the school’s plunge, which took place Friday, March 11, was the highest grossing Cool School Plunge.

“The community continues to surprise us with the support for the plunge, inclusion and Special Olympics Minnesota,” said Gotto. “For us to be able to continue that kind of level for four years is downright mind-boggling, especially when you add it all up and see that we’ve hit $153,000 in our first four years.”

People jumping into cold water
Participants in the Cool School Plunge jump into a tank of cold water outside of Discovery Middle School in Alexandria on Friday afternoon to raise money for Special Olympics Minnesota. More than 370 people jumped in the event and raised nearly $45,000.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press

He also added that when it comes to picking a date for the event, he continues to have a hard time choosing one where the weather has cooperated. Out of the four years he has been in charge, three of the initial dates have needed to be rescheduled and moved to a later date because of a snow storm and school being canceled. And, he said, the rescheduled dates end up having cold and nasty weather, too.

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That was the case on Friday, he said.

“The last time I looked at the weather that day it was 5 degrees with 20-30 mph winds,” said Gotto. “It certainly made the plunge feel like it was right in the middle of winter again! The air was actually colder than the water was, as the water temperature was 35 degrees.”

Jumping into cold water
Discovery Middle School assistant principal Heather Timm, left, and Jess Kriel make a splash as they jump into a tank of cold water.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press

Gotto thanked the Alexandria Fire Department for filling the tank used for the plunge.

With all the “bad happening around the world,” Gotto said it was so awesome to see something so good happening and that the community once again rallied behind the school and students’ needs.

“I'm excited to continue the Cool School Plunge as an annual tradition and hope to expand upon it next year as we celebrate our five-year mark. There's nothing in stone yet, but I'm looking to make it the biggest plunge yet!” he said. “A special thank you to everyone who helps support the plunge both with time or finances. There are so many people and places to thank, but a big thank you to Sgt. Keith Melrose with the Alexandria Police Department for everything he continues to do to support our plunge and help it run smoothly.”

Wet boys walking down stairs
Beau Jones, left, and Adi Newman try to get off the tank and back into the school building as quickly as possible after jumping into the cold water.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press
Two girls in cold water
Samantha Whaley, left, and Brecklyn Ellingson gasp after jumping into the cold water.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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