Students Take a Plunge for a Good Cause


Doug Wang ’23

Students made a quick jump into icy Wononscopomuc Lake last Sunday.

On Sunday, April 11, students dashed into Lake Wononscopomuc’s icy waters for the annual Polar Plunge, an event organized by St. Luke’s Society, the school’s community service organization, to raise money for the Jane Lloyd Fund.  

The Jane Lloyd Fund is a local nonprofit organization, founded by the Lloyd family in memory of Jane Lloyd, sister of Steve Lloyd ’74. It aims to aid cancer patients and their families living in the local Northwest corner of Connecticut who are struggling with medical bills and living expenses. This year, students raised $1,450.

To demonstrate the impact these students have made in the past, St. Luke’s faculty advisor Mrs. Caroline Kenny-Burchfield ’77 shared the story of Colton, a toddler diagnosed with a rare cancer that resulted in the loss of his left eye and a need for chemotherapy to save his right eye. Colton’s family reached out to the Jane Lloyd Fund, which provided critical financial support through two grants in 2019 and 2020.  Colton has now been in remission for over a year and is excited to receive a new prosthetic eye. 

Last April, when all students were remote, St. Luke’s Society compiled a video of students diving into local bodies of water, dumping buckets of ice water on their heads, or taking a cold shower to signify their commitment to the cause. Although the same initiative was not brought back this year, virtual students were given the option of donating online directly to the Jane Lloyd Fund. 

However, due to limitations created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Polar Plunge looked different this year. St. Luke’s Society board member Madeline Chang ’22 explained some of the alterations that were made to the plunge. She said, “This year, since we couldn’t go into the lake with a mask on…we divided the Polar Plunge up into shifts [to allow for social distancing]. Each shift was about a half-hour long and had about 20 students in it.”

Mrs. Burchfield stressed the importance of continuing to hold this event, even with the difficulties caused by COVID. She said, “The emphasis is on trying to build a sense of togetherness and communal effort in uniting behind one goal. I think that’s what we’re trying to drive home.” Trip Brown ’21, another St. Luke’s Society board member, echoed Mrs. Burchfield’s message, saying, “I think it’s just important for everyone to try to have fun for a good cause.”

In total, around 120 students plunged into the lake. Nick Astorian ’22, a participating student, said, “The Polar Plunge reminded me that even when things are uncomfortable, together with my friends, I can overcome all. The cold was invigorating and refreshing, and I even went in twice.” After the plunge, students gathered by a bonfire by the dock and ate cookies from Sweet Williams, a local bakery. 

This is the second year that the Polar Plunge has been held in person, and the event is likely to become an annual tradition.