, Salem, MA

December 13, 2012

A day to remember

Salem students mark 12-12-12, a once-in-a-century date


---- — SALEM — The number “12” was on everyone’s mind yesterday at Saltonstall School. That’s understandable considering it was Dec. 12, 2012 — as in 12-12-12, a magical date that won’t occur again for another century.

“Happy 12-12-12, Ms. Carter,” children said as they greeted Principal Julie Carter at the start of the school day.

One little girl even fretted about the numerical enormity of the day and its mathematical implications for her own life.

“I will never be able to get married on 12-12-12 unless I’m 108 years old,” said 8-year-old Sofia Pargas, a third-grader.

That was not a worry for Lisa Vines and Kim McLeod Weir, who flew all the way from Florida to get married at the Hawthorne Hotel on this special day.

“Her lucky numbers have always come in threes,” said Vines’ sister, Renee Marks, who also flew in for the 6 p.m. (half of 12) ceremony.

All over the country yesterday, people were celebrating 12-12-12.

In Michigan, a new casino held a ribbon-cutting at 12:12 p.m. Last night, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and other rock royalty took part in “12-12-12,” the concert for victims of Hurricane Sandy. And the Legislature in Wisconsin declared yesterday “Aaron Rodgers Day” in honor of the Packers’ quarterback, who wears No. 12.

Even the Patriots honored their No. 12, giving away Tom Brady bobbleheads and jerseys as part of “The 12 Hours of Brady.”

Locally, Saltonstall wasn’t the only Salem school to mark the day. The student body of Bates School gathered for a group photo.

“Instead of ‘cheese,’ we had them say 12-12-12,” Principal Tom LaVallee said.

But nobody outdid Saltonstall, which had children bring in 12 coins for a school playground fund, read a dozen poems and sit still for a whole 12 minutes.

They also brought in 12-12-12 newspaper headlines, made lists of 12 favorite authors and 12 heroes, and designed collages to mark the special moment in time.

The idea to spend the day paying tribute to a single number was proposed several weeks ago by fourth-grader Britain Padgett, who had to muster all his courage to approach the principal.

“He was pacing outside my door,” Carter said.

Padgett told the principal he thought the whole school should do something special on Dec. 12, like wearing blue or eating just one kind of pizza for lunch.

He returned a few days later with his friend, Nick Driscoll, who had some good ideas of his own, and some good-natured suggestions, like spending only 12 minutes on math. He was asked how that went over with the principal and teachers.

“Not so great,” he said with a grin.

Another boy had an even more inspired idea on the 12-12-12 theme.

“He wanted to go home at 12 noon,” Carter said.

Tom Dalton can be reached at