HUNTERSVILLE – Incoming freshmen at North Mecklenburg High School got acquainted with their new teachers and principal in an unconventional way this summer: They dumped buckets of ice water over their heads.

For the grand finale of Viking Training Camp, North Meck’s two-day high school survival guide for freshmen, the school held an ALS ice bucket challenge in the football stadium.

Matthew Hayes, superintendent for the North Learning Community, nominated every high school in the community for the challenge.

North Meck’s teachers and staff, as well as Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain, turned out Aug. 22 to accept the challenge.

Courtlyn Reeves, dean of students, helped organize the event, because he said he is “never one to shy away from a challenge.” He also wanted students to know that the event was more than just a chance to joke with their teachers.

“We want to win this for the sake of bringing awareness not only to our students but to our staff who may have had family members affected by ALS,” Reeves said.

Reeves told the crowd about the ALS’s mission to help those affected with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Nationally, the ice bucket phenomenon has raised $79.7 million for the ALS Association, a huge leap from the $2.5 million raised in the same two-month span last year. North Meck has raised $500 and continues to accept donations.

The unbearable “step outside and you become immediately drenched” day made the ice water a welcome relief to the participants. After the event, it was hard to tell the difference between the melting onlookers and the drenched teachers.  

Swain said she had already accepted the ALS challenge several times but came to get soaked again to join the Huntersville community with the high school.

“It’s very important to show the incoming students at North Meck that North Meck is part of a greater community, and it isn’t all about them,” Swain said. “It also is really cool to show that the teachers, the staff, the principal they all have heart, and they all have commitment.”

Rhymer thought the challenge was the perfect way to start her first school year as North Meck’s principal. Rhymer previously worked as principal of Central Cabarrus High school, where she won North Carolina principal of the year in 2013.

“The tradition here is absolutely amazing,” Rhymer said. “Everybody either went to North or knows somebody who went to North or married somebody who went to North … I’m very proud to get to be a part of that.”

After the challenge, North Meck’s drumline introduced the freshmen to a beloved tradition: The Boogaloo.

The dance continually adapts to incorporate current pop culture references, but one move will always stay the same. When a member of the drumline yelled, “Let me see those thumbs up” the crowd waved two thumbs above their heads and screamed “North” over and over.

Because the school has contact with students and the community, Rhymer said it has an obligation to pull everyone together. 

“We’re going to be the school to watch in every area,” Rhymer said. “We want people to look at North and think, ‘Oh, I want my kid to go there.’”