By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — On June 20, School Superintendent Dr. Stephen Zrike and Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio issued a challenge to the public school students in Wakefield. If the kids collectively read 10,000 books over the summer, Zrike and Maio pledged to jump into Lake Quannapowitt. Zrike made the additional promise to shave his head.
Wakefield students did their part, reading more than 10,000 books in conjunction with Beebe Library’s Summer Reading Program.
On Saturday, Zrike and Maio made good on their end of the bargain in an event that drew hundreds of excited onlookers to Colonel Connelly Beach at the head of the Lake and even got the attention of Boston’s Fox News Channel 25, which sent a crew to Wakefield.
After Wakefield High School student Diversity Leaders Courtney Sullivan, Julia Derendahl, Dylan Melanson, Brian Dickey and Nicole Galli took turns shaving Dr. Zrike’s head, the School Superintendent and the Town Administrator plunged into the chilly waters of Lake Quannapowitt to the cheers of all.
“As much as I’m disappointed that I have to jump in a cold lake today,” Zrike said in welcoming those in attendance, “I’m very proud of all the reading you did.” He recognized second grader Sam Carpenter as the top reader, with 140 books to his credit this summer.
Zrike also thanked the Wakefield Cooperative Bank for sponsoring Saturday’s event by donating $5,000 to the schools’ laptop computer program.
Maio made it clear that he would not be shaving his head, joking that both his wife Jean and his mother Dorothy Maio had forbidden him from doing so. “Now listen,” Maio quipped, removing his cap, “if you had a head of hair like this would you shave it?”
Following his date with the shears, the newly bald Zrike made his way through the crowd and joined Maio at the edge of the water amid chants of “Do it! Do it!” After a quick handshake, Zrike and Maio sprinted and splashed their way through about fifty feet of shallow water before plunging headfirst into the Lake.
They surfaced to the cheers of the crowd and the drenched duo slowly made their way back to shore where they were greeted with hearty handshakes and congratulations.
Numerous past and present public officials were among the hundreds who turned out to witness this unique occurrence. Among those spotted in the crowd were State Senator Jason Lewis and State Representative Paul Brodeur. School Committee chairman Christopher Callanan along with committee members Janine Cook, Kate Morgan and Anne Danehy were in attendance along with selectmen Phyllis Hull, Paul DiNocco and Tiziano Doto. Town Treasurer John J. McCarthy was on hand as well as former selectmen John Carney and Al Turco.