Teacher, student share leap year birthdays

Published 12:20 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2012

SHARING A LEAP YEAR BIRTHDAY on Wednesday, Feb. 29, are John Johnson Elementary school student Shelby Harper, left, and JJE music teacher JoAnn Moore, right.

Perhaps the rarest birthday of all to have is the one that comes once every four years, on Feb. 29.

Wednesday is a leap day, an extra day that is added to the month of February, making it 29 days long instead of 28 days. This usually only happens every four years.

Several local people share the Feb. 29 birthday — among them are John Johnson Elementary School music teacher Mrs. JoAnn Moore and second-grade student Shelby Harper.

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If leap year babies only got to count their Feb. 29 birthdays , Moore would be celebrating her eighth birthday Wednesday. She said some of her students got a good laugh out of that fact, when her birthday was announced over the school’s intercom this week. When she was a child, Moore’s mother always let her choose which day — either Feb. 28 or March 1 — to celebrate her birthday in non-leap years.

Shelby, the daughter of Ridge and Jenny Harper, said she has already had her birthday party this year, but was looking forward to celebrating with her family on Wednesday, when she marks her “second” leap year birthday. She said she thinks it’s neat to share a special Feb. 29 birthday with one of her teachers.

Amy Bush McKown, formerly of Bainbridge, now of Clewiston, Fla., is celebrating her 10th leap year birthday this week. McKown formerly worked at The Post-Searchlight and is married to Steve McKown, the city manager of Clewiston.

With help from some of our readers, we learned that some of the other Bainbridge natives and residents whose birthday falls on Feb. 29 include: Cara Bono Mitchell, Rita Key Phillips, formerly of Bainbridge, now of Colquitt; and Tommy Howard Sr., who is celebrating his 80th birthday.


What is a leap year?

A leap year, which has an extra day at the end of February, happens because the Gregorian calendar system in use in most of the world is based on the length of time it takes the Earth to orbit the Sun, which is approximately 364.25 days. To ensure that certain dates, such as Easter, fall on the calendar around the same time every year, one whole day has to be added every four years.

Leap years have occurred since the Roman Catholic Church first recommended the use of the Gregorian calendar in 1582. That system states that a Leap Day is added to the calendar every fourth year, using the Year 0 as a starting point. However, a Leap Day is not observed every 100th year, except for every 400th year, when it is. So 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, but 2000 was one.