This is one in a series in which readers share why their local school is special. Today Anita McMahon, of Ocean View, a parent of four children, three of them students at Bishop McHugh Regional School in Cape May Court House, talks about a family tradition that is now becoming a school tradition.

“Last year, our family continued a tradition that began at St. Augustine's Parish School in Ocean City more than 20 years ago. On the last day of school each year, the McMahon boys would race home in order to be the first to jump into the bay in his uniform. It became a familiar site each year; as the boys grew, so did the number of fellow jumpers.

Fast forward to 2012, when the McMahon girls (Maggie, Grace, Erin, and Nora) clamored around a pool in Upper Township dressed in Bishop McHugh Regional Catholic school gear. It was the last day of school; an impromptu party that came about as a result of a raucous story told at a McMahon family dinner.

A call was put out to the families of BMRCS and they came running with pot luck dishes in hand. About 20 children from varying grades lined up shoulder to shoulder along the pool's perimeter  Eager, camera-bearing mothers and a few hardy dads braced themselves for the onslaught.  

As the kids began falling in like penguins, the joy of the good times had all year was clear on their faces  It was the look of lessons learned, lifelong friends, and contented parents.  

It's this type of gathering; this embodiment and continuation of a tradition started more than two decades ago, that makes Bishop McHugh Regional Catholic School special  It's the tangible way that BMRCS is able to support childhood.”

Anita McMahon

Rain was still threatening on the last day of school Friday at Bishop McHugh Regional Catholic School, but at noon the sun peaked out and the second annual "Pot Luck Pooloza" began at the McMahon home in the Ocean View section of Upper Township.

"Can every kid swim?" Bill McMahon asked as he lined up rows of tiny burgers on the grill. Nearby more than two dozen students, still in their uniforms, started lining up at the deep end of the family pool.

Assured by camera-wielding parents that all could swim, Anita did the countdown, and the school year officially ended with a shriek as the students gleefully dove in and splashed around.

Anita said the story was told at a family gathering about her husband's younger brothers jumping into the bay years ago on the last day of school at St. Augustine's Parish School in Ocean City. That' when she and Bill decided to restart the tradition, with a bit of modification, at Bishop McHugh.

"We had just moved into our house, and it had a pool," she said.

While St. Augustine is closed, many of the families are now at Bishop McHugh. Bill said he and his brothers, (Michael, Patrick and Brian) are still friendly with some of the group that used to jump in the bay.

Anita said three of their daughters, Maggie, 9, Grace 7, and Erin, 5 attend Bishop McHugh, as will Nora, 2. And it is that sense of family and tradition connected to the school that they want to continue with the annual party.

Last year they invited all the students in their children's classes to the first party. This year they opened it to everyone at the school.

Julie Grimes, of Ocean View, went to St. Augustine's with Bill's sister, and now her children attend Bishop McHugh. Her third child just graduated.

"There are more people here this year," she said. "We all have friends here."

Contact Diane D'Amico:

609-272-7241