The Ways We Celebrate 100

By Stella Haffner   |   August 8, 2023

Dear Montecito,

Welcome to the 99th edition of Dear Montecito! 

Even though this column was started three years ago, I have been looking forward to our 100th edition practically since Day 1. It is not unpopular to say 100 is a very nice number. It is round and also somehow circular in that it encourages reflection, celebration, and speculation. Most of us like 100. And I think it is fair to say that I have liked the number 100 since before I knew what it meant. 

In the summer of 2005, I was learning how to hold my breath underwater in the YMCA guppies class. At the end of class, we were often asked how many kicks or bounces we wanted to do to conclude our time. One day we were asked how many jumping jacks we wanted to do to finish the day. 

“ONE HUNDRED!” One kid said. 

I have been a bit of a know-it-all my whole life, so I let him know that counting to one hundred would take all day. I really did think that. Sometimes, Montecito, know-it-all doesn’t really mean understand-it-all.

I first understood what 100 looked like in Ms. Hillway’s kindergarten class. At MUS, we celebrated the 100th day of school with special hats, child-friendly percussion instruments, and a parade. Each kindergartener got to prepare their own hat, decorated with 100 stickers each. And so, we learned to count by ten – a big moment. A big moment elevated by the fact that we each got 100 stickers. Have you ever seen a five-year-old with one sticker? Yeah, well getting 100 stickers at five years old is like winning the Powerball. It’s a high that really cannot be outdone. Thus, the 100th day became its own holiday for me like Halloween and Thanksgiving.

I celebrated my 100th day of college and my 100th day of graduate school. One day I will celebrate my 100th year. My idea of what this will look like has changed significantly, and I know that for a fact.

Back on our 100th day of kindergarten, we were given a special assignment. We were asked to draw and describe what we would be like at 100 years old. I said I wouldn’t hassle with dresses or skirts anymore, and I thought I would probably be grumpy when people rang my doorbell. Notably I did not mention any spouses or accomplishments – interesting – but I did say I would want to have my friends over for tea. 

I still think giving that assignment was a stroke of genius by our teachers. It is true my teachers at MUS have continued to have an impact on the way I think about the future and reflect on the past. It is why I so enjoy hearing from them when they read this column. Actually, it is why I enjoy hearing from all of my readers; because this town has concretely shaped the way I think about myself and about others and about time. And like all parts of this paper, the Dear Montecito column couldn’t exist without all of you.

I decided to write to you on the 99th edition of this column because I wanted us to be able to anticipate the 100th edition together. And to further emphasize the circular reflective-projective nature of o-n-e h-u-n-d-r-e-d, our 100th edition centers on an individual who both grew up here and is playing a big role in shaping the next generation. 

Ninety-nine articles down and we still have so many stories to share. In the coming season, this column will feature more writers, more artists, more scientists, more Montecito alumni. 

As always, thank you. And as always, if you know someone who should be featured in the column or have your own great story to share, you can reach me at

Thanks for 99,


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