Students help teacher swim with sharks

  • Photo submitted - Corrina Crumpton, in the middle holding an envelope, received tickets to swim with whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium from her class after the students learned of her wish.
    Photo submitted - Corrina Crumpton, in the middle holding an envelope, received tickets to swim with whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium from her class after the students learned of her wish.
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Everyone has something they want to do or see before they “kick the bucket.” However for many people, the bucket list is a collection of distant wishes that never reach fruition.
For an end-of-the-semester project, Hart County High School teacher Corrina Crumpton assigned her 10th grade honors literature class to not only come up with a bucket list, but to research how to achieve one thing on it. For example, if they wanted to see the northern lights, they would research where to go and how to get there to see them.
The students then turned the question on the teacher and she said she would love to swim with the whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium. Crumpton didn’t think much of it until the last day of the semester, when her students presented her with a ticket to swim with the whale sharks at the aquarium.
“I was just floored,” Crumpton said. “Nothing like that has ever happened to me. It was amazing.”
Whale sharks are sharks, not whales. They have gills like a fish, while whales  are mammals and have lungs. Despite being the largest fish in the ocean, growing up to 30 feet long and weighing up to 20 tons, the school-bus-sized fish filter feeds on tiny creatures such as zooplankton and krill with a throat the size of a quarter. The gentle giants may be hard to find to swim with in the wild because they are listed as endangered due to entanglement in fishing nets, boat strikes, ingestion of marine debris and micro plastics.
“When they asked me what I wanted, that just instantly popped into my head,” Crumpton said. “It just seems like the ultimate experience. To be amongst these giant creatures sounds really cool to me.”
This is Crumpton’s third year teaching and third year at Hart County. Crumpton graduated from White County High School and later the University of Georgia. She currently lives in Toccoa.
“Teaching isn’t easy by any means,” Crumpton said. “Just to see that you do make an impact in students’ lives and do make a difference just by doing your job makes it an incredible job to have. To be able to touch students’ lives like that where they want to pay something back is incredible.”
Crumpton said she will begin planning her whale-shark-swimming trip over the holiday break from school.