Thursday, January 9th, marked the kick-off pep rally for the Cool Schools Plunge with St. Elizabeth School (SES) and Calvert. SES’s auditorium was filled with smiles as students, friends, and their families gathered to jumpstart this year’s Plunge.
Among the crowd were 137 St. Elizabeth students and their buddies from Calvert. The room was buzzing with excitement as the students cheered on their buddies. For the fourth consecutive year, St. Elizabeth and Calvert have partnered to participate in the Plunge. This partnership is inspired by the Clark Family: Ali, Jonathan, Oliver ’20, Este ’25, and Sutton, whose Team Sutton has raised outstanding funds and awareness about the Special Olympics and individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities. Since 2017, Calvert has supported the Cool Schools Plunge and Team Sutton by sending our entire Eighth Grade and a group of Seventh Graders to participate at Sandy Point State Park. The past several years Calvert has been the highest fundraising independent school for the Cool Schools Plunge.
Oliver Clark ’20 first made the plunge with his grandfather and father when he was five years old. They plunged for his older sister Sutton, whom Oliver named in his speech as one of his best friends. This year Oliver is excited to share the experience with his entire grade at Calvert. He and his buddy, Terrence, were one of a few speakers at the pep rally. Oliver shared, “I love being buddies with Terrence. He always has a smile on his face. He makes everyone laugh! We have such a great bond.” Over the course of his speech, Oliver emphasized inclusion, love, and friendship as the values that make this plunge possible.
Jim Schmutz, CEO and President of Special Olympics since 2013, spoke at the pep rally to celebrate the incredible students plunging into the Bay this January. Jim partners with volunteers, like Oliver, to bring athletics, leadership, and health promotion of over 6,900 Special Olympians.
Adam Hayes who has been plunging since the age of 11, will be partnering with Oliver for the Super Plunge this year. As a Super Plunger, you are expected to race down towards Sandy Point State Park into the Chesapeake Bay every hour for 24 hours. Adam shared his fondest memories throughout the years and the importance of participating. He concluded his speech with the Special Olympics athlete oath “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
After the speeches concluded, Principal Erin Upton invited each Calvert student and their SES buddy to the front of the auditorium to showcase a little bit about the students. Everyone present witnessed the incredible friendships that the Calvert students have made with their plunge buddies. The crowd listened to each individual’s favorite sport, hobbies, and passions. One buddy is only the second male with special needs to qualify for the Boston Marathon!
Thank you to all the students from Calvert and SES, as well as family and friends who joined us for the Cool School Plunge pep rally at St. Elizabeth School. And to all the Eighth Graders, keep up the good work! You exemplify what it means to be a great leader in our community.