The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

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A One-in-1,461 Chance: La Salle’s Sole Leap Day Birthday

Lola+Marks+loves+using+the+fact+that+she+was+born+on+leap+day+as+an+icebreaker+or+a+fun+fact+when+getting+to+know+people.
Seychelle Marks-Bienen
Lola Marks loves using the fact that she was born on leap day as an icebreaker or a fun fact when getting to know people.

Most Americans — and anyone else who uses the Gregorian calendar — are familiar with Leap Day. Starting in elementary school, we’re taught mnemonics to help us remember that, unlike most other months, February is special in that it typically only possesses 28 days, with Leap Day falling once every four years on Feb. 29. 

The reasoning behind this? Contrary to popular belief, the Earth actually takes 365-and-a-quarter days to rotate fully around the sun. Because of this, we add an additional day to the calendar every four years to compensate. If we didn’t implement this system, the result would be that, gradually, our calendar would fall out of sync, affecting everything from solstices to weather patterns to seasons.

Due to its infrequent occurrence in the calendar, the probability of being born on leap day is 1 in 1,461, making it the rarest birthday to possess. Statistically, this means with a population composed of roughly 700 students, the odds would suggest that there are no students at La Salle whose birthday falls on leap day.

However, for one member of the Falcon community, Feb. 29 is more than just a leap day — it’s a day of celebration.

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Sophomore Lola Marks was born on Feb. 29, 2008 and will turn 16 on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. Born at Providence Hospital in Portland, Oregon, Marks entered the world just shy of two weeks before her mother’s due date. 

When giving birth to Marks, her mother was asked by a nurse if she was okay with the fact that her child might be born on leap day, but she was perfectly content with the possibility. Marks is appreciative of her mother’s nonchalant attitude toward her birthday, as she likes having it be unique.

Marks doesn’t remember when she learned about the meaning of leap days, but she does remember having the responsibility of educating her classmates about it as a kid, as she would explain it to them when asked about her birthday. 

“I would have to explain to all [the kids] in my class what it was,” Marks said.

When she was in elementary school at Happy Valley Elementary, she met another child who had the same exact birthday which was “crazy,” Marks said.

Despite only being able to truly celebrate it every four years, her birthday has never presented itself as being anything but fun and special, as she loves the uniqueness and individuality of the day. 

Though Marks’ true birthday only occurs once every four years, she doesn’t have a tradition to commemorate this. When her birthday occurs in a year that doesn’t have Feb. 29 on the calendar, Marks celebrates it just like usual, except on February 28. “That’s always how I’ve done it,” she said. “I always celebrate my birthday on the 28th … because I wasn’t born in March, I was born in February.” 

This year, her cousins suggested that for her birthday, she should have a “giant party,” she said, but she feels the extra attention isn’t necessary, as she views her birthday just like anyone else does.

As leap day marks her 16th birthday, Marks will celebrate it by going to the DMV to get her drivers license, which is also what she is most looking forward to. She is intent on going on the day of her birthday so that her birthday, a rare day, can also match both the expiration and issuance date of her license. 

Marks loves being born on leap day, and if given the opportunity to go back in time and change her birthday, she wouldn’t alter a thing. “It’s cool telling people that I was born on that day,” she said.

This story was originally published on The La Salle Falconer on February 28, 2024.