Getting wet for a good cause
Washington principal uses dunk tank for reading incentive
Washington Elementary Principal Terry Martinez woke up Oct. 21 with “a little sniffle,” he said.
He was lucky it wasn't pneumonia. The night before he had spent nearly an hour in a dunk tank at the school's fall carnival - a willing victim for 150-plus students who had completed a week-long “reading challenge” at his school.
“I lost track,” Martinez laughed, when asked how many times he sank into the water as a result of an eager young scholar's accurate toss at the dunk tank's target.
As for staying warm, he said he wore a wetsuit and helpers tried to keep the water at least lukewarm. The air temperature was the real problem. At the beginning of the evening event, at 6 p.m. when the sun was still out, temperatures were in the 50s, but by the carnival's end, with the rain falling around 8 p.m., they were probably in the 30s, he guessed.
In fairness, the principal was not the only one who got wet and cold for the cause. When Martinez took a break midway through the event (warming up in the boiler room), teachers Anne Yenne, Mike Hedges and Brian Holcombe took turns in the tank.
The whole time, there was a long line of raucous students waiting their turn.
“Almost all the kids enjoyed the mere fact that I would do it, and some of the teachers as well,” Martinez said. “So there was a constant flow. There was no time in the two hours that nobody was throwing a ball.”
He'd known what was coming. “I don't know how many kids that Friday came up to tell me, 'I'm going to dunk you, I'm going to dunk you,'” he said.
He had no regrets, however. To complete the reading challenge, students had to read at home every night for a week. And there's always the chance that many of them will continue to do so.
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